Almost three and a half years ago I was thrown into the world of the grieving parent. At the time, I was in a highly alert state, taking words that were said to me and dissecting them one by one. Sometimes people said things that I found confusing, and maybe even hurtful. I started reading…
I am sorry my grief inconveniences you.
That you feel you need to treat me differently now that my daughter is dead.
I am sorry it makes you uncomfortable to think about the possibility of the death of a child.
Even speaking death’s name in the same sentence as your child might make you think he will come knocking at your door.
I am sorry that I am not the same person I was before she died.
Believe it or not, I am okay with that. There is a flame that burns in me now where once only a spark lived. That flame is the torch of love I carry for her and I don’t plan to let anyone put it out.
I am sorry I mention her name and you don’t know what to say.
That seems to be your problem not mine. For her name is music to my ears and brings peace to my grieving heart.
I’m sorry you don’t understand the reason I must carry my grief with me.
It’s a reminder that I have loved deeply and grieve the joys that once were and will never be.
I’m sorry you can’t just sit with me and listen for a while.
That is what I need. I need you to just “be.” I need you to be comfortable with my grief, because it’s not going away. I don’t plan on letting it leave. As I am sure you don’t plan on letting the love you hold for your child to walk out the door the moment they go to college.
I am sorry I haven’t found “closure.”
I have a secret for you: there isn’t any. Closure doesn’t exist. And that’s okay. Because the grief I carry for her is love. Would you toss aside the love you have for your child because it made someone else uncomfortable? I didn’t think so.
Well, really what I meant to say is…
I’m sorry that I’m not sorry.
I was inspired to write this piece after listening to a TED Talk by Nancy Berns, a sociologist who studies grief and the concept of closure. In her work she has found that the idea of closure from grief really does not exist. We learn to integrate the loss of our loved one into our life, hence the idea of a “new normal.”
She has also experienced the death of a child due to stillbirth. I only wish I could eloquently explain how joy and grief are entwined like she does. If you have twenty minutes, check it out. It’s worth your time.