An Open Letter to the Loved Ones of a Grieving Mother
Dear Loved One,
I know you mean well. I believe you. I 100% believe you have the best intentions for her. She isn’t the same person and that probably scares you. You think of her before her (and your) loss, and you might wonder why things aren’t going back to the way they were.
You try and fix her broken heart by telling her things that you would think would make it all better, or in the past make her smile.
Somehow your words of comfort aren’t doing the trick. She might even be pushing you away. I beg you – don’t take it personal.
She hardly knows what to do with her own bazillion emotions, much less yours. So she isn’t trying to hurt you, but she also might not have the best ways of expressing just how much she still needs you.
You miss her laughter.
You miss her jokes and conversation about trivial things.
You want to remember her child with her, but somehow – to you – it might seem like she’s taking it a little far.
I’m here to ask you to leave her alone. No, don’t walk out on her. That’s not what I am talking about. Quite the opposite.
Let her go a little crazy. (She’s not crazy, by the way.) She is grieving the death of her child. She is the only person in the entire history of the universe that feels the full impact of this loss.
She’s alone. She has you, but really? She is doing this by herself.
So watch her as she visits the grave site frequently (or not). Go with her. She might say it’s okay that you don’t, but don’t listen to that. She might not thank you for joining her, but go anyway. I guarantee your presence will not go unnoticed.
Study the things that become suddenly important to her.
Online blogs, forums, support groups, angels, wings, feathers, butterflies, certain jewelry pieces, songs, colors, places. Don’t stop obsessing over why you fell in love with her in the first place.
She’s still in there. I promise.
She is doing her absolute best to mend her own heart but no one handed her the manual on how this was going to happen when the casket was lowered.
She’s winging it, just like you are. And you love her, so trust me when I say I’m on your side too.
She sheds a thousand tears a day, and you might be lucky to spot a few. She knows you’re quite tired of her sadness. She knows that you care, but she is also tired of seeing you exasperated when you realize you can’t fix her.
She hasn’t stopped crying. She just cries more when you’re not around.
So instead of trying to fix her sadness the next time, just listen. Nothing you can say or do or buy can make her pain any less painful.
She isn’t crying so that you will fix her, she’s crying because she can’t help it. It actually has nothing to do with you.
You might notice her go from sad to depressed to completely angry and back to sad in a day. I know it’s scary to watch someone we love become someone we hardly recognize anymore, but the things she need more than anything is your unconditional and demonstrative love and support. She needs to know she is safe, no matter where she lands.
And we aren’t forgetting about your pain too, because while she is breaking into a million pieces, you too, are bearing the pain and weight of this loss, and to top that off maybe even a little misplaced, self-induced guilt for not being able to make her feel better.
Admitting just how devastating this all has been for you too, can be a constructive way to reunite after loss. Consider opening up to her.
Above all else, support her. In her anger, in her sadness, in her depression, in her lonely spells, in her confusion, in her wandering, in her distance and in her closeness. There are few things that hinder healing more than judgment from loved ones.
She will make it through this to the other side.
She won’t always be bombarded by the most intense pain that new grief delivers on a regular basis, but she will never be quite the same.
And she needs you to be okay with that.