i thought i was finished with this series on people who have lost a child and then i received this email from a friend of mine who lost a baby. i knew this was one more to be shared and i imagine it will impact a lot of people deeply. i want to encourage those of you who read it to refrain from doing what we often do when hearing someone’s story – justifying, rationalising, critiquing, judging, preparing our response and more – just try and read the story and really hear the voice of a parent who has lost a child and is still in that place of it not being okay. just hear what is being courageously shared. [my friend asked to remain anonymous to protect the people in their life that this speaks to/about]:

Don’t tell me how many times it’s happened to you, I don’t want to know the possibilities of this ever happening again. I can’t see my way through now, how can I comprehend ever going through this again?

Don’t expect me to be better after the time you’ve set out as being reasonable, It may take 5 years, it may never be over. Look out for me, make sure I’m not stuck in a season, but don’t expect me to be fine by now

Don’t treat me like I’m over it, When you see one day that I’m the person I used to be before all this happened, then you can treat me like I’m over it.

I will never be the person I used to be before all this happened

Don’t tell me 4 weeks after my baby has died that you’re pregnant and expect me to be happy for you. I hate you, I hate the God who has allowed you to be happy and not me, I hate the people congratulating you. I am working through asking God for forgiveness for hating. How do you ask a God you don’t trust anymore for forgiveness? I am working through feeling guilty for no longer trusting a God I have always known. How does a God you’ve always known to be one thing suddenly change? I’m working through not seeing God as I’ve always known Him to be. Do you see what your “announcement” has set off in me?

Don’t judge me when you don’t see me singing in Church, I’m reading every song in a different light and with a different perspective, I’m evaluating whether or not I can honestly sing any of those words and mean them even a tiny bit anymore. I’m feeling judged for sitting in church week after week without praising, I don’t want to be here, I want to be in bed feeling sorry for myself, but I’m not…I’m here, I’m with you, it’s a massive step…recognize that

Don’t tell me it’s all going to be ok, you don’t know that. You told me it was all going to be ok when I went for my scan, we know what happened after that…Tell me you love me and you’re there for me, tell me you’ll walk this road with me no matter how long it is, tell me you won’t judge me, tell me you’ll try

Don’t tell me you understand. Really? Your puppies got run over, you understand “exactly what I’m going through”? You will never understand. Maybe one day (hopefully never though) you’ll have some kind of idea, but you’ll never understand. I don’t pretend to understand what someone else in my same situation is going through. That’s because they are unique, their situation will be perceived from the point where their personalities and outside influences affect them. I’ll never 100% understand what they are going through. You do not have the capability of understanding so telling me “you understand” only minimizes my experience of this to the size of your ability to comprehend it. I don’t blame you for not understanding though, I envy you.

Don’t tell me you’re sorry for my “unfortunate situation”. My baby died and was torn from inside me, you term that “unfortunate”?

Don’t offer empty words of consolation, hug me, I’ll know exactly what you’re saying.

Don’t make every “coffee date” a time for you to find out how I’m doing, I want to be able to go for coffee with you without the anxiety of what questions you’re going to ask me, and how those questions will affect me on this specific day. Let the conversations happen naturally, but listen…because somewhere in that conversation I will tell you how I’m doing…

Don’t pretend awkwardly that you haven’t heard me mention something about my baby or how I’m feeling today. Follow up, listen and talk with me, I’m feeling strong enough to open up and talk, don’t ignore me, that’ll only make me feel as if you think I shouldn’t be talking about it.

Don’t let me eat alone in the days right after everything. I feel guilty for even feeling the need to eat at a time like this. Bring food, it’ll make me realize that you think I should be eating even at a time like this and then I can feel just a little less guilty. Don’t ask me what I eat or don’t eat, I feel guilty for being hungry remember? It’d probably make me feel a little less guilty by eating food I completely dislike so I really don’t mind

Don’t make every meeting a somber event, make space for me to have normal times, you know, like when we lived life innocently and we’d go to each other’s houses and play games or watch a comedy together, or we’d go have breakfast in the park. I want ‘normal’, I crave ‘normal’, I can’t get ‘normal’ on my own, I need you to make it for me

Don’t look at my tummy in the months after, to see if I might be pregnant. I’m aware of not being pregnant every day, so keep your eyes off my tummy. Believe me, you’ll know when I’m pregnant again, I’ll be shouting it from the rooftops. So please, don’t make me insecure wondering when someone’s going to ask me about my tummy just because it’s a bit bigger…maybe from being pregnant before, maybe from a bit of extra weight that sadness has added on

Don’t tell me it was probably for the better. Would you ever go to the mother of a disabled child and tell her it would’ve been for the better if her child had not lived? That’s what you’re saying when you tell me that. I would’ve loved a disabled child, or a sick child, etc inspite of all that. That was my baby, I don’t care what was wrong with him/her

Don’t forget the important dates, I’m remembering them, I’ll never forget. The date we found out we were pregnant, the date we heard our baby’s heart beat, the date the doctor told us our baby was dead, our baby’s due date, what would’ve been our baby’s 1st birthday, it goes on, it forever will. When I’m still raw, remember the dates

Don’t tell me I have a choice as to how I’m going to let things affect me. Do you think I would ever choose to have things affect me like they do sometimes? I don’t have a choice in how things are going to affect me, from one day to the next I have no clue how even a simple question will affect me. You asked me yesterday How I am, I said fine, You asked me today…I burst out crying. You asked me this morning how my day has been, I said great, you asked me this evening…I got angry at you. You asked me at 13:00 what I’m up to later, I said I was going out, you asked me at 15:00…I was curled up comatose on my bed. You asked me at 20:00 how I was, I said good, you asked me at 20:05…I was cursing God. I don’t know from one minute to the next how things are going to go, my life is in turmoil.

Don’t expect me to be your support. I don’t want to know whether or not you’re coping, I don’t have the emotional capability to handle your feelings. You have your own support system, go to it so you can be mine.

Don’t get upset if I react negatively to something you say to me. I’m sorry for hurting you, but right now you’re the stronger one, can you carry that for me? Please?

Don’t tell me (as you roll your eyes at something your child is doing) “one day you’ll understand”. I understand now. I am a mother. I became a mother and my husband became a father on the day our baby was conceived. I may not have a living baby to prove it to you, but he/she will forever be alive in our hearts. We are parents, we just ‘understand’ a different area of parenting than what you do.

Don’t think that when I’m laughing I am not grieving anymore. I feel guilty, I feel as if I am betraying my baby’s memory.

Don’t forget that I’m still grieving. I know it’s hard for you to be aware of things you say to me, but please, is it such a burden to carry in light of everything? Will you carry that for me?

Don’t think my pain is healed. A part of me will forever be broken, but I will learn to live with that…in time

Don’t get annoyed or hurt when I don’t rejoice with you when you tell me you’re pregnant, I haven’t slammed the door in your face. I want to, but I haven’t because I care for you and want to protect you from me so that you can have the space to rejoice for you. I can’t right now, because I’m using all my energy to fight against hating and envying you, but I’m quiet, and that is my way of saying I care enough to be silent.

Don’t get upset when I don’t talk or open up to you. My words are coming from a place of pain, anguish and turmoil. I love you, that is why I’m silent. My words will only hurt you, so I keep them inside.

I used the analogy once when someone asked me how I was, I said it was like that earthquake that hit Japan last year. One week Japan was thriving, nothing on the horizon that was going to turn their world upside down. The next week everything had changed, all there was for as far as you could see was rubble. Lives that had crumbled into little bits that were no longer recognizable, nothing visible that was still intact. Nothing remotely resembling the life they had, the dreams they held for their futures.

Hopelessness, deep, deep sorrow, utter disbelief. The week before they couldn’t imagine anything like this, they didn’t have the ability to even comprehend the devastation lying ahead for them. In the first few days, no one knew where to even start. Where do you start to begin putting your life together again? How do you begin to fix years and years of life that has been broken down to nothing in just a matter of minutes?

Slowly you pick up a brick and move it out of the way. After a while the bricks become too heavy because your arms are tired, so you start moving pieces of broken brick instead. You rest a while. You’re tired, but your life is in limbo at the moment because you have no security, you have no confidence, you have no dreams for the future, you have no hope. You keep your head down because to look at the ruins of your home, your life, your dreams, as a whole picture is too painful, you can’t bear it. So you keep plodding on with your head down. Eventually you reach the base of where your house once stood. There’s a lot more rubble here because of the size of what once stood there, but you’ve made progress. What lies ahead is a much bigger task than what you’ve gone through already but you have nothing else to do, no other reason to do anything. So you keep going. You think of giving up sometimes because of the strain of it all, but you don’t. You don’t know what drives you, you don’t know what pushes you to keep going but you do. Maybe it’s the fleeting thought that one day you will have a house again, if you just clear this mess, you can build a life, build hopes and dreams and a future. The size of the task is daunting, but you keep going.

After days or weeks, or months, you lift another brick, but this time you see something underneath it. It’s dusty and dirty, and you can’t see it clearly, but you know it’s something you recognize and so you reach for it. It’s a vase, a simple thing that used to hold such beauty. It’s not damaged. Maybe a little dusty, but it’s still intact. You can’t believe it. How did anything survive? You cling to it as if it is the most precious thing in the world. You carry on clearing up. More things slowly start to appear while you’re clearing away the rubble. They begin to form a pile and the pile grows and slowly… keeps growing. Every now and then you go and sit next your pile, and admire the things that are still intact, the good memories start to fill you and give you strength. You get enough strength to go back and clear a bigger section. The times between clearing and resting grow bigger. What once used to fill your days is still there, and always will be, but you have hope now, it may be only a little, but you see how far you’ve come, you could never have imagined getting to this point but somehow you have, you’re a survivor, you ARE strong enough. The road ahead is long. Your house will never look the way it did before, but you start to recognize it as home, you start to see the possibilities in your future. But you never forget, to forget would mean to nullify everything you’ve been through and besides, how could you forget something that impacted your life so much, no, you never forget, but you begin to learn how to live with the memories…