Saturday, December 31, 2011

Stop with the Reasoning!

One thing that I wish people knew about grief was that it isn't reasonable. It's not linear, not nice and neat like steps up a ladder. It is dark, confusing, scary, and cloudy. What grieving people need most when they are grieving is a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen to them.

Before experiencing grief I would have just thought it was a feeling. Probably lots of sadness with maybe some depression if things got really bad.  Now having experienced grief I can say it is more like a sickness than a feeling. I have been surprised at how physical it is. There are days when I have absolutely no energy or feel physically sick to my stomach.  This is the hard part about grief because even though grieving people may look fine on the outside, really they are like sick people. No one would expect someone who is in the ICU unit to come to a family gathering, but they expect a grieving person to show up and act normal.

I feel that people's misunderstanding of how grief really is leads them to try and reason with the grieving person. I have been given this reason in a number of ways by a number of people. It seems when I am honest with people on how life is (hard) or how I am doing (still sad) they seem to want to "reason" with me. To tell me how having two stillbirths hardly ever happens. They tell me to count all the blessings I do have . They tell me that worry will have bad side effects on Abigail. It seems that people want to try to "fix" things by reasoning and the truth is, nothing can be fixed.

And on and on the reasoning goes. It leaves me feeling like I owe them an explanation of my feelings and thoughts. It leaves me feeling like something is wrong with me because I am not doing "reasonable" things like shopping for Abigail or decorating in pink or counting down the days until I get to hold her. Reason just does not work on a grieving person. There is no amount of reason that can convince me that I will bring home a live baby until I actually bring home a live baby. No amount of reason that will make the tears less, the pain stop, or the memories fade.

Would you reason with someone who was sick with a bad infection? No, you would greet them with compassion and understanding. My husband and I often say it feels like we have been on the cross since April 14th. When Jesus was hanging on the cross, people did not come to reason with him. Mary, John, and the Mother of God followed Him to the cross to comfort him and give him empathy and compassion. There were no remarks such as "Don't worry Jesus, it will all be worth it in the end," or "Just a few more hours then we can put this all behind us." He was on the cross and the only answer was to be with him in the sorrow and misery, not to reason with Him, not to "fix" Him.

Instead of reasoning with grieving people, just let them be. I promise it will not be forever! From what I understand and have read about grief, over time it becomes more of a peripheral vision kind of thing instead of right in front of your face thing. The "sickness" become less and less but still has moments of intense flare ups.  I am still in the right in front of your face stage. Typically when a person loses a baby it takes 18-24 months before they feel and act "normal" again. It hasn't even been 9 months, so according to the average I still have a ways to go. Be gentle with grieving friends, especially grieving mothers. Listen to them, don't try to "fix" things, and just simply be that shoulder to cry on.

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