February 12, 2011

I Understand

By Kaci Goodrich Uipi

During the midst of deep despair and heartache, we long for someone's understanding. Anyone's. What we don't long for, is understanding of those who really don't understand. Please let me explain.

Not long ago, I visited with a friend. Quickly the topic became one regarding Joshua. She told me that she understood what I was going through because she cried immensely when she heard the news of his passing. I wasn't sure how to respond to this. Honestly I was a little stumped, thinking my ears might need a check-up. Astonished that someone would say that to me, I quickly said the only thing I could get out of my dumb-founded mouth: "I don't think I could ever say to someone 'I understand', because everyone's situation is so different."

Not only was her situation different, but it was completely opposite I would have to say. You see, instead of her baby being dead, her baby (born only a month before Joshua) was alive, healthy, and sleeping on the very same floor where I placed my feet.

If there's one thing I've noticed with being a grieving parent, it's that everyone else around you believes that they themselves need time to grieve as well. I'm not saying that my friends should show no sign of sadness, but let's remember just whose loss it is, shall we.

Many people will come to your house only to fill the air with words, and nothing else. And in most cases (but not all), this does no good for the griever. In the beginning, they come over with sad looks on their faces and tears in their eyes in hopes that you will cry with them. It's almost as if you, the griever, is now the comforter. I've been in this circumstance countless times as my well-meaning sister will call me, obviously having been crying, wanting to talk with me about Joshua. However, whenever she happens to call me, I'm just not in the mood to cry. If I really was in the mood to cry over my loss, I would hang up the phone, lock my doors, and climb into bed where I could be alone.

Misconception of the ungrieving world: "If you say I understand to someone who has just suffered a serious loss, this will make them feel much better." Reality check: There is no possible way that you could understand how they are feeling, since you have never experienced that type of loss. Even if you have lost a child, please remember that every person's situation is individual.

Another tip for the ungrieving: If you are to visit someone who is experiencing a terrible loss, bring them food or a meal that they might need; Give them money to help with funeral/hospital expenses; Offer to wash their car or scrub their toilet; Take young children to a park for a few hours! I personally couldn't stand most of the visits we got right after Joshua died! We were so busy trying to plan the funeral, that having people over constantly to visit with us, was so NOT helpful! I really appreciated a sister in our ward who called me beforehand to ask when a good time would be to come and visit. I also appreciated people who came by to just drop off food or flowers but not stay longer than a few minutes. My phone rang continually the 3 days after he passed away, and I tried to tell people to please come the following week (after the funeral) but most people didn't listen! Whatever you do, however, just DO SOMETHING, but please don't say "I Understand"!

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