Thursday, August 18, 2011

Shhh...Don't Poke the Bereaved Mother!

"If you know someone who has lost a child, and you're afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died--you're not reminding them. They didn't forget they died. What you're reminding them of is that you remembered that they lived, and that is a great gift......." ~Elizabeth Edwards~

So very true. I need to talk about Eleanor, not all the time, but often. Sometimes I feel like this is all some horrible nightmare; that it is surreal. Talking about her and what has happened, and even my fears with my current pregnancy, help ground me. And they certainly help get out some of the tension and pain that builds up. You won’t break me if you mention her name. Instead you will lift me up. Even though it has been 19 months, her death is still so fresh to me and I suspect it always will be. I think I will always need to talk about her and hope there is always someone there to listen. (Please don't get me wrong. There are many very sweet people who always let me talk about Ellie, especially my best friend and husband.)

I belong to such a beautiful, yet shattered community. We grieve. We remember. We support. We love. We are mothers no matter what the circumstances were surrounding the death of our child(ren) or how old they were when they left. Several members have had horrible conversations with family and friends and been treated so unfairly (me included). But what has really struck a nerve with me lately is Facebook.

Ok, we all know one shouldn’t judge their self worth by Facebook. Not all of those 200 people are truly your friends and that is ok! But when a bereaved mother posts about their child and is attacked for: not “moving on”; talking about something that should be private; trying to be the center of attention; even being inappropriate and macabre; or sometimes even worse, when they are ignored, I become enraged. There are already people out there that get annoyed with pictures and stories and updates about a Facebook friend’s child. I say unfriend/delete/block them! It’s your page, do what you like. Children are part of what defines those that have them (and it is okay if you don’t). But for the people that do not get annoyed at posts about living children, why is it any different when a post is about a child no longer here? The child was. They existed. They were loved and wanted. Why can’t the mother talk about that? What is the commentor afraid of? Why does a picture of my living son get 33 comments and likes while one honoring my daughter gets 9 or less or sometimes none at all? I’m not trying to “rub” my tragedy in anyone’s face. I am not hysterical in any way. I don’t need you to comment in order to know she was/is loved. But I do need her to be acknowledged. All I have left of my six day old daughter is her legacy. The pictures of her while here are personal and I couldn’t stand it if someone negatively commented on her appearance, so I choose nott o post them. But I also can’t post a picture of her first birthday or first day of school. There will be no pictures of her first sporting event or play or formal dance. IF Facebook survives the fickle social media world, I won’t even be able to post pictures of my grandchildren. So all I have, and all the members of my community have, are pictures of things that remind us of our child or events in where we are honoring our child. How hard is it to take a few seconds out of your day to lift me up while honoring my daughter? You won't awaken some sleeping bear or anything! I am a mother. A proud one at that!

Can you give me that gift Ms. Edwards is referencing in the above quote?

1 comment:

  1. That is a perfect and beautiful quote. Thank you again, Sarah, for helping me to understand the best way to help someone who has lost a child. Of course I hope that there will never be another friend of mine who needs me to know but if there ever is you've taught me what to do. Grief is so scary for people not involved and your title says EXACTLY how I've felt in the past! I dont' want to poke the sleeping bear or stir up old wounds.
    So thank you for sharing this <3