Grief never ends… But it changes.
It’s a passage, not a place to stay.
Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith…
It is the price of love.
Let’s talk about grief. Grieving is something that is brought up a lot in my blog, but I usually try to keep it to my end of year recaps, or Robby’s birthday blog. However, due to some recent events, I feel like I need to talk about it some more.
One of the many things that I have learned since starting my blog, and then starting Project Robby, is that I have opened myself up to a lot of things.
*I have opened myself up to good things such as meeting people who have such wonderful, giving hearts.
* I have opened myself up on this blog, sharing my personal thoughts, in hopes of helping others.
*I have been connected with other loss moms.
*Through the help of everyone who has donated, we are able to touch so many lives through Project Robby.
*We are able to bless families with hats and blankets that fit their tiny child. They have something special, and they are reminded that their child, no matter how early or tiny is special too.
And, for all of these things, I am truly thankful. I have been blessed beyond measure!
However, in the past couple of days I have realized that along with all of the good things, I have also opened myself up to something that does not feel very good and something I did not expect- judgement.
As many loss moms know, grief is something that people very openly have an opinion on. I am sorry to say that in the past I have been judged by a few extended family members and friends before, and I have learned how to accept their opinions, forgive them, and move on. However, up until a few days ago I had never felt or realized that people who don’t really know me and are not apart of my life were also judging me openly and publicly. Judging me in the way that I am dealing with my grief from losing Robby. After experiencing it, I can say first hand that it is a terrible feeling.
So, I would like to try to turn a negative (people judging my grief journey publicly) into a positive ( that someone might take a little bit of what I am saying in my blog and apply it) .
I will not get into the details of what all happened because the details truly don’t matter. However, I do feel that maybe God put this event in my life for a reason, and maybe that reason is for me write this blog. Maybe there is someone else out there who needs to read this. So, if you are someone who has experienced a loss, if you are a family member of someone who has experienced a loss, a friend of someone who has experienced a loss, or maybe even just someone who is looking for some perspective on the subject- this blog is for you.
Grief is something that is so very personal, and we all grieve in our own ways. One of my biggest pieces of advice to other loss moms (and dads) is to grieve however you need to grieve and grieve however long you need to grieve. Even with my recent run in with others judging me, this is still some of my biggest advice. I stand by that statement with my whole heart. I feel that you are not truly working through your grief if you speed up the process just to make someone else happy, or to dodge some judgement. I have learned that if I step back quietly during rough patches of my grief I get labeled “insensitive,” “living in the past,” and “lacking compassion,” however, if I try to explain why I am stepping back quietly I get labeled “ insensitive,” lacking compassion,” and “living in the past.”
Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't.
So, before you offer an opinion to someone for how they are grieving, I want you to stop, think, and then keep it to yourself.
Please do not ever tell a grieving parent that they are not “normal.” I will tell you what isn’t “normal,”- having to bury your child. Trust me, that is not normal. Please do not tell them that they are bad parents to their living children because they are walking the path of grief. Being a grieving parent does not make you a bad parent! It also doesn’t make you a bad parent when you talk about your child that has passed away with your living child. Please do not try to tell someone that you “understand” their grief because you have a friend who suffered a miscarriage. Unless you have actually walked in the same shoes as the mother who has lost her child, please just tell them how sorry you are that they are having to walk this path.
Before I lost Robby, I had no idea what to say and what to not say to someone who had lost a child.. I had no idea that certain things were so hurtful to parents who had lost a child. As part of my grief journey, I have been able to realize that most people say things so innocently, without realizing they are hurting me, and certainly not thinking that their words could be hurtful. Now, at this point in my grief journey, I am able to look past those innocent things, and take them simply as words spoken in an effort to be helpful. Unfortunately, I have learned that there are still people out there who intentionally say things to hurt me because in their minds my grief journey is not justified. Instead of telling someone how they should be grieving, please tell them that if they need anything you are there for them. Whether it has been 10 days since their loss or 10 years since their loss, just be there for them.
“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”
I love that quote because it is so accurate. There are days, weeks, and even months now that are not very hard at all, but then there are days that the pain of missing Robby hits me like a wave. Am I sad all of the time now? No, I can honestly say that I am not. Do I miss my little boy? Yes, I miss him fiercely. However, unlike after he first died, I do not sit at home and cry all day. Did I when he first died? Yes, I did. After Robby died I just stayed at home so that I did not have to be around anyone, especially young children! That was where I was in my grief journey then (nearly 3 ½ years ago), but thanks to supportive friends and family, I have come so far from that.
When I think of Robby or talk about him with Ellie, I have a smile on my face because Robby was a blessing. When I talk to Ellie about her big brother, Robby, it is not ever in a sad way because I do not want her to think that Robby’s memory brings me sadness. Robby’s memory brings me joy because he is my child. I wish he were here with us, but that is not our reality. However, someday we will all be together again in Heaven, and what a glorious day that will be.
I am thankful for Project Robby, because it has helped me to heal. I talked about Robby in public for the very first time during my KWCH 12 interview. It was a hard step to make because it made me vulnerable, but it was a step forward in my grieving process. Unfortunately, I have recently learned that there are people who might think that Project Robby is just a way for me to continue to “live in the past.” Let me be very clear here with my response to that, “It is not!” Project Robby is a way for me to take the pain of losing Robby, and turn it into something positive- which is to help other families who have lost a child. It is our mission to make sure that parents who have lost babies know that their baby was special, and is important. Through Project Robby, we want to make sure that each family has something special for their baby, and something special for the parents to hold onto. Working through my grief will be a lifelong process, and I want to help other families who are beginning their process. I want them to know that there is someone out there who understands.
“Sometimes the people around you won't understand your journey. They don't need to, it's not for them.”
I actually have a list of “milestones” if you will, that I want to be able to achieve. Goals. Steps forward in my grief journey. So far, I have marked off many of these milestones, and I think that in the next couple of weeks I am going to be able to cross off a major one as a dear friend of mine is expecting a little boy and she is due anytime now. I am so excited for her and her husband, and I can not wait to meet my (honorary) nephew! That will be a blog for a different day though! I want to thank this friend for the grace that she has shown to me during her pregnancy. She has been so kind, thoughtful, and compassionate and for that I am truly thankful. She is a wonderful friend, and I can’t wait to watch her experience the joy of having a baby!
I want to thank my family and friends who have stuck by me in this ocean of grief. Waves come, but then they settle, and I am thankful for those who have stuck those waves out with me. I am thankful for those who held my hand during those waves. However, there are some people who have not stuck with me during the waves, and that is okay. It really is okay! Some people can not handle the waves, and some people want me to just act as if the waves are not there. The waves will always come, but with the help of supportive family and friends I can swim through those waves, and thankfully those waves are not very fierce anymore.
The people who have stuck with me have been able to see my progress. My progress might be slow, but the friends and family who have been there with me through the waves have been able to witness how far I have come. I have found that the people who judge me the most are those who could not handle holding my hand through the waves, and therefore dropped out. Unfortunately, they still think that I am at the same place in my journey that I was when they couldn’t handle to hold on any longer. I wish that they could see how far my journey has come. I do not blame these people for not holding on during the waves, this is a hard journey. I am so grateful to the people who have stuck it out with me, because I know it has not been easy!
I will say it one last time:
Before you offer your opinion to someone for how they are grieving, I want you to stop, think, and then just don’t say it.
Next time you are tempted to pass judgement on grieving parents, I want you to really think about your words. Try to find a way to build them up and make sure that your words won’t tear them down instead. Maybe instead of judging this person you could do something helpful. Maybe you could donate to a cause that is in place to help grieving families.
If you are experiencing a fierce wave of grief, or if you have questions on what you can do to help someone who is dealing with the loss of a child, please feel free to email me at:
firstname.lastname@example.org . I would be very happy to lend an ear, pray for you, or try to help in any way that I can.
I have compiled a list of places other than Project Robby that help grieving families, and I encourage you to, instead of judging someone, help make a difference. Instead of spewing judgment, spread love <3
- Molly Bears
- Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
- Compassionate Friends
- The Tears Foundation
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”