October 2, 2012

The Club

There's something about meeting a fellow member of the club. You don't even have to say anything. You just know. It's like they can see right through you--right into your soul. They know what you are feeling...what you've been through...what you are still going through...and what you will yet go through. They know exactly what to say. They never offend you. They never disrespect you. They would never ever want to cheapen your experience. They would never ever say anything cliche-like or cheesy to make you feel awkward or mocked. In fact, many times they say nothing at all. They know not to compare, make assumptions, and say "I know what you are feeling". They know better than anyone else what you are experiencing--but they know just how stupid it would be to say so. Instead--they just listen.

When you come across a fellow club member you can breathe a sigh of relief. You know if you needed to talk they would be there for you and not judge. They would never try to change you. Even if they are just an acquaintance--you can have confidence knowing that you can give each other that specific look that says, "I know. I know."

It's very difficult finding support in this club. In the rare instances you feel understood--it does something to you. You feel a bit of gratitude knowing that you are not alone. It's exhausting sometimes trying to explain your story to someone not in the club. You worry about what kinds of things they will say.  Will they be offensive without even knowing? And even worse--what will you say back to make certain you protect yourself, your child, your grief, your pain and emotions that are so sacred to you because only YOU experienced it and know just how dark those dark moments really are.

It's hard. You want to tell people. You want everyone to know about your child. You want them to know that he is a real person. You want them to know that a piece of your heart has been ripped out and you will never get it back--not in this life anyway.

Everyone whose not in the club will want to compare--liken any experience possible to your experience. Unfortunately this doesn't work. A counselor I was seeing shortly after Joshua's death would always compare my emotions of losing a child to his emotions of finding out his toddler had cancer. This offended me. Finally one day I had enough courage to let him know what I was thinking. When I started to verbalize my hurt feelings, he quickly realized why this would bother me so much. He responded, "You are right. I should not compare that situation with yours. That was wrong of me. I got to take my son home from the hospital--and you didn't."

I know we all make mistakes and say things without thinking. I'm probably the worse one of all. I know that is one of the reasons I was given this trial--to learn to be just a little more sensitive, a little more caring, and a  little more loving. I never used to know what to say to someone who had lost a child--or any family member or loved one for that matter. However, I now know the best and most simplest thing to say in this type of circumstance: "I'm so sorry." And that's all you have to say and do. 

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for the explanation. Although I am wondering why it is very difficult finding support in the club since those who have lost children know how to treat and react to you better than those who have not lost.

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  2. Dear Anon,
    I think that's a type-o.

    Hi Kaci,

    Most comments I've gotten have been positive, even from those who haven't lost a child. Not all however. I like to think of the 18 year old who told me that, "I'm sorry. I hope you get over it soon," as emotionally inexperienced...kind of like I used to be before my son died.

    I just saw a friend tonight who I haven't seen since my son was alive. He is a week older than my friend's son. It was so good to see her and we picked up where we left off last time. Old friends are like that and I love it. I was a little unsure of how to talk about my son, though. Because randomly it did come up. And I think it was good for both of us. Good that she knows she can mention my son's name if she wants and I'm not going to burst into tears. Looking at her son, it's crazy for me to think that I could have a child that age, with that much personality, funny behaviors and large vocabulary. I didn't feel sad seeing her boy. Just happy that the rest of my kids liked him and they played together.

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  3. I totally get this. Even just meeting someone for the first time that has also lost a child total gets me in every way. Even if we haven't experienced the same time of loss of our children - we just get it, entirely. I wish there was a way that others (especially family) could really understand how things they say are so hurtful.

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