I could not possibly remember or count the many times I’ve heard this. Sometimes if I’m being transparent it feels so empty and quite overused. But what else do you say when a loved one has passed? We all want to encourage, or be encouraged and feel some ounce of betterment. We feel the immense sorrow when someone we’ve lost dies. What should we reply when someone says “I’m sorry”? do we just say it’s ok? or nothing at all? After all it is an expression of sympathy. We offer our compassion and concern. We are showing that we care. But what if we changed the script.? What if we expressed our concern by saying My deepest sympathy, or I’m sending you love, prayers, comfort during this time…I’m thinking of you, and I’m here. We struggle to find the right words. Everyone’s journey through grief is so unique. It’s ok to be short and simple. It’s so hard to see our loved ones suffering, and in the grips of a loss. I’m sorry is not wrong. It just simply doesn’t cover what are brutal emotions give us. Good intentions can make “robotic statements” seem less authentic. My hope in this is that we allow ourselves to respond better if you will to offer genuine support.
Over the last 6 years since Elijah left this earth, I have encountered many people. I have built many beautiful relationships. I’ve met other moms who have lost a child and there is a unique bond that only we share. However many of my relationships changed. Many people whom I thought would remain in my life are no longer a part. Including family members. I also see that those who I maybe at one point was not close to or did not know well are some of my closest confidants.
Grief has an awful effect on most of us. It itself is a complete stranger. My parents told me never to talk to strangers. Do not engage or become familiar with. Therefore, when grief hits, everyone deals with it in a different way. It is an unwelcomed stranger that forces itself usually immediately after a loss. Many of those who I counted as my friend during my deepest part of my grief could not handle it for whatever reason. Some I would say hated to see me suffer so they backed away not knowing how to handle it. Some were trying to handle their own grief and maybe felt like they would make me feel worse by sharing their hurt too. And maybe others feared that my tragedy would somehow affect their lives differently so they just vanished all together. Losing someone will either 1. bring you closer together, or 2. be the catalyst for falling apart. And I experienced both.
I had to ask myself a question… Am I asking to much from my friends/family/comforters? I mean he was my son, my heartbeat, I carried him!!! Right?? Surely no one is grieving harder than me.. Not true. I had to ask myself also What are if any are my expectations? Should someone automatically know how to comfort me? No, they aren’t mind readers. No one could assess my emotional, spiritual, or physical needs without my input. People were grieving in their own way, and because he was my son many people would in fact heal quicker than me because of the relationship to him. Some of the anger I had was towards those closer to me. Some demanded more of my attention to them and I couldn’t give it and I was hurt in the process. I could not understand why I was being avoided in my time of utter and complete sorrow, and brokenness. I mean just because you don’t know how or maybe at a loss for words you avoid me? Yes, people did. I had a friend who 3 years later called me and told me that it was to hard for him to see me hurt so he stayed away. I understood yet at the same time could not give myself a reason for our friendship to just pick up and continue. I instead thanked him for telling me and wished him well in his life. Even through my own grief, there were times I had to sacrifice and be there for others through their pain as well. I also had those who said some pretty dumb things. Some things said were even quite disrespectful. I could say it was because they were at a loss but some people at the heart of it are just insensitive and even if you wrote it out and they took a class and then explained it again, they would still be insensitive and there is nothing that you can change about that. And I could not make excuses for them, so I in turn isolated myself to protect my heart.
Being present is not an easy thing to do. It requires patience, faith, love, gentleness, being kind, and discernment to name a few. In my life today are some wonderful people that encourage me, pray for me, love on me through my tantrums, and push me to keep going. I have healthy relationships with those who didn’t run away. Those who could bear the weight of my grief. I have met wonderful souls who do not mind me talking about Eliyah, his impact, and his life. I evaluate my expectations better than I did before. Even as my journey continues and yet still the layers of loss that are still being uncovered come, I have those in my life I can call. I’m careful not to except someone to give me what I know only God can. I have friends who are present and find it not to be a burden on them. I’m aware that friendships change. My life became more complex, and not easier. I’m so grateful for those that God placed in my life, and I’m grateful for those who he knew would not be good for me and he removed. God has given me beauty for ashes. Thank you Lord for all that you have done in my life!!! Thank you for being present and never leaving nor forsaking me. Amen!!!!!!!!