When Grief Is Lonely and No One Sees
“I wish someone cared about the babies I lost too.”
My heart feels ripped out as I read this comment on the picture of my twins, born at 20 weeks. I head over to her Instagram page to try to find out what happened, if there is anything I can say to reassure this girl that someone cares. Anyone at all. There is nothing, no pictures or explanation of her babies.
As time passes and loss happens again to us, I feel the utter despair behind her words even more. In the women around me, the messages asking what they should do when no one comments on their lost babies’ pictures anymore. The emails saying that no one wants to talk about it with them. The comments that push away and minimize their own loss to avoid the hurt of no one saying anything – or someone saying the very wrong thing.
It’s hard to lose babies and have life be so online. It’s hard to have every thought be public because that’s where so much of your support is. It’s even harder when it starts to fade.
I struggle between feelings of guilt for how much support I often get, and the urge to tell you all that it isn’t always like that. I’ve been tremendously blessed with people around me who remember dates, talks, moments, who want to talk about my babies over and over with me. But there have been and continue to be times where I stand in my kitchen on an anniversary date and wonder if anyone remembered. I hesitate daily to post about my babies online – and the terror of, “What if no one comments?” and “What if someone tells me to get over it?”
I’ve had both, especially after losing my twins and being pregnant with my son that we lost at 3 weeks old. People were tired of hearing about my loss, I was pregnant again, it was over, move on.
100 kind comments and 1 that rips your heart to shreds. Guess which one often sticks?
When you lose someone you love, most of us want people to show up, hold our hands, care. As time passes we want them to remember. What I’ve learned in 2 years of grief is that we have to show others how to do this with us. Yes, there are some that simply know – maybe they’ve gone through a loss and maybe they are just incredibly sensitive to this. But most do not know.
I still don’t know.
I’d rather have a grieving mama say to me, “This is what I need from you today/tomorrow/next month – but it could change and I’ll tell you if you just promise to listen” than to draw back, stop talking, or become angry that I didn’t say something when she needed me to.
I often think of the little joke we hear in relationships, where the woman gets all upset that the significant other in her life just doesn’t “know” what she wants for Christmas. She doesn’t want to tell him, she wants him to just get her the perfect gift. So she often ends up with a vacuum or a pink gun holster.
It was the perfect gift – but only in the giver’s confused, frantic-to-please mind.
That’s how this is with us. I want my babies to be loved, I want to shower you and your babies with love. I want to remember them. But you have to help me. It’s terrifying to put yourself out there and wonder, “What if no one…” but do it anyway. If people are uncomfortable, that truly is their issue, yet many times I see that posting something relatable allows them to be a part of this.
“Today is 6 months, we miss our daughter so much. We had a little family dinner and let balloons with her name go. It was really, really hard.”
Yes, you can post, “My daughter died 6 months ago” but in all honesty, that leaves me wondering what I can put that won’t hurt you more today. I certainly can’t like that post if it’s on FB, and I can’t say anything that makes it better. But the other status – that allows me to do the best I can and relate to the balloons or family dinner or something being hard.
It’s a terribly ugly thing – this grief. It’s awful and it’s unfair that in the midst of this, we worry about how our grief affects others. It’s so lonely, and it gets lonelier in many ways. Make it easier on yourself, open up that door just a little for someone to walk alongside you the only way they might know how.
Allow someone to see your grief so the journey isn’t quite as alone.