When my son died, I received a lot of advice. I found people do not know what to say. They default to the things they have been conditioned to say during these times. It came from many different sources, most of which had never lost a child. The advice came from good intentions, but it was hollow. Not at all what I needed in that moment.
When someone would tell me it would be OK, I was angry. They would say everything happens for a reason and I should trust God. More anger. Then there was, “Give it time. Time heals all wounds.” It doesn’t. Then there were the people that tried to facilitate a connection. Here, call Jane. She lost her son, too. I was not in a place talk to other bereaved mothers and hear all about their experience. Everything felt like pressure towards a direction someone else thought was best for me. Someone that had never stood where I was standing.
If you haven’t noticed, there is a lot of anger in grief. It is unavoidable so you should just learn to embrace it early. It made me feel like I was going crazy. Everything made me mad. I hated their advice yet I found myself starting to wonder if I should listen. It didn’t resonate, but I was desperate. So I started judging my grief. It made me question everything I was doing and feel as if I was doing it all wrong. That made me more angry.
Then I had a breakthrough. A grief breakthrough.
I don’t recall the cause or the source, but I suddenly understood what I needed to do. It all made sense.
My epiphany? My grief is only about me. The journey I walk is my own. No one can tell me how to do it. I simply have to do whatever I feel is right in the moment for me. It is not my job to help make others feel better. I cannot be concerned for how they are doing. I know it sounds harsh and unfeeling. However, there is an “I” in grief. As there should be! It is the only way because MY son died! This was about Cameron and I. No one else. The rest of the world has their own path to follow and they must figure it out on their own.
It seemed so simple. Selfish, but simple.
Since my son died, I have changed the way I talk to someone that has experienced loss. I never tell them I am sorry, that is the worst thing to say when someone dies. I am no longer afraid to say, “That really sucks!” It does. Then I tell them I am thinking about them and sending love. I really am. Love is all that matters. If I feel the urge to share advice, I simply tell them their grief is unique to them. They have to do whatever is right for them and not compare themselves to anyone else. Don’t worry about what anyone else tells you. Just follow your gut.
This advice would have saved me so much agony.
What is your go to advice?