In fairness, how can anyone ever tell you how to deal with grief? And yet at some time, it visits all our doors. We can’t gauge it, measure it, compare it even – how can I tell you that the death of your dad was not as painful as the death of my son? I just can’t. We all have different levels of grief. If you’ve never known the pain of a child dying, you can’t compare it to a parent dying or a friend dying. To be quite honest, I don’t think you ever should.
I remember after Ryan dying, aged 9 and a half weeks, a woman told me that her child had died at 10 years old and that I shouldn’t have felt so bad because I hadn’t known my child as long as she had and therefore it was so much worse for her. Equally, I remember someone telling me that they were so angry with me that I got to spend 9 and a half weeks with my child when their baby only lived a few hours. Thankfully, I had the sense to know in both cases that their anger was not really directed at me. But it really made me think about the grieving process and what is right and wrong. The truth is that nothing is right or wrong, you are thrown into utter turmoil and nothing, nothing ever feels the same again.
The day after Ryan died I was walking into my mum’s house when a woman from the village stopped to give her condolences but her parting words were “it’s only a baby, you’ll have more”. It was as if I could replace one child with another. Another woman rang me at home, this was a woman who had also just had a baby at the same time as I and she thought it fit to tell me I was lucky – lucky because I now had “an Angel in Heaven”. I remember neighbours crossing the road to avoid us – just because they were so uncomfortable in themselves because of our loss, but that was so hurtful.
If I could tell you just one thing – please replace your own fear, think of what the other person is going through (which is so much worse than your fear). Stand tall, approach them, you actually don’t have to say anything, because sometimes there are just no words. Stand before them, hug them, mention the person who died by name – I can’t stress the importance of this. That person LIVED, that person was part of their lives, that person will always be part of their lives, talk to them about them, ask to see photos (especially in the case of a child but appropriate for everyone). They loved them, they will always, always want that person to be recognised and remembered.
I do what I do, because I know because I understand it. If I can help, just check out lindaminto.com. Let’s make the world a kinder, better, more understanding and compassionate place.