There are as many ways to grieve as there are grievers, and each way is valid. Download this card to show your loved one you support them in all the ways they need.
Feelings are ALWAYS valid
It can be surprisingly helpful to acknowledge that you aren’t an expert about your loved one’s loss, but that you are open to listening. Download this card to show your loved one you are a safe place to share their pain.
I used to feel so much pressure to perform; to meet a certain standard at work and in life. And the worst part was, the bulk of this pressure was internal; something I demanded of myself. And then my son died, and I realized I didn’t have it in me to keep up with these illusory standards.
I think sometimes we feel pressure to be only positive, cheerful, and focus on healing after loss. To be honest, this feels like BS to me. I’d rather focus on what may be uncomfortable, but is miles more real.
It doesn’t matter how far along you were. It doesn’t matter if there was anything “wrong” with the baby or if he or she would not have been compatible with life. It doesn’t even matter how many other children you have, either before or after your loss. You are ALWAYS allowed to feel what you need.
Simply telling someone not to feel a certain way will never have the desired result. Instead, ask questions about their feelings. Acknowledge and understand without trying to change.
In conjunction with two beautiful therapists, Mary from Sarah’s Heart and Diane from Diane Biggs Psychotherapy, this latest post is a compilation of frequently asked questions about therapists and therapy, specific to the child loss experience.
I think we are all familiar with the golden rule, but one of the most powerful things I have ever heard was to follow the platinum rule: treat people how THEY prefer to be treated. The words we use matter. And if you can’t say something kind, or supportive, maybe don’t say anything, at all.
Feelings aren’t required to be rational or reasonable, nor to follow anyone else’s expectations. I have the right to feel how I feel, for as long as I feel it, regardless of circumstances or whether someone else feels differently.
One of the more important things I’ve learned is that if what you’re feeling is authentic, then it’s valid, no matter what. Feelings don’t have to follow rules; they just exist.
There is often this perception that healing is a required part of the process of grief. I don’t believe this is true. Healing is and must always be the choice of the individual.
If a bereaved parent feels guilt or blame about their loss, simply telling them not to feel that way is not a solution. Feelings don’t work that way.
Some people do choose to find positivity after loss, and I think that’s great. I think it’s an example of the many ways different people respond differently. But it’s not what I choose. And in my opinion, feelings must be an individual choice.
Pain and grief can make outsiders uncomfortable, and sometimes they may urge you to heal and be your positive self again. This is a reminder that you are always allowed to feel however you need to.
I’ve been running into a trend recently when I talk about Adrian’s death, especially when I share more “uncomfortable” feelings such as anger or regret. People seem to feel like they need to urge me to find peace or to otherwise feel differently. I wish more people understood the power in authenticity; in feeling whatever and however one needs.
“Positive vibes only” sounds like a great message, but it unfortunately acts as erasure of the full emotional spectrum. Authenticity is always preferable.
I understand your intentions in wanting to take away my pain. It’s hard to see someone you love hurting. It’s hard to acknowledge there’s nothing you can do. What I need you to understand: (My) pain has a purpose. It speaks to the love I hold for my child. In seeking to take it away, you take away my love as well. You take away ME.
It’s a common saying: “It’s okay to not be okay as long as you don’t stay that way.” I disagree. Why do we put a time limit on reality? It’s only when we recognize that ALL feelings are valid, that we have the space we need to make genuine change. And even then, change is optional. It has to be.
We are all living in uncertainty. We are all scared. We are all doing the very best we can. And you have every right to your feelings, even if they seem silly.
I think people are conditioned to tell bereaved parents it isn’t their fault because they are worried. If parents blame themselves, what might they then do?
I write a lot about this concept of numbness. I think that before, I would have described it as a lack of feeling. “I am empty, I am numb.” I realize today it’s something quite different.