Saturday, February 8, 2014

What NOT to say to a grieving Mother: My list from my experience

The last few weeks have been pretty hard ones for me.  We've reached a really big milestone that kind of just snuck up on me.  Gabriel's 8th birthday is on Sunday the 9th.  My nieces are turning 8 and one is even planing to be baptized on the day that Gabriel would be baptized if he were here.  It's really hard to believe that he's been gone for almost 7 years.  It really just isn't fair if you want to know the truth.  I'm still anxiously awaiting the day that I can see the whole picture and see exactly what this was supposed to teach me, and how it was supposed to help me.  For now, it just hurts.

I've had friends who've had to bury babies since Gabriel's death, and one who is preparing to do it shortly after birth.  As I think about these mothers, and the things that they have and will face, I remember the things that were said to my husband and I and our parents following Gabriel's death.  I realize that most people really do want to help in some way, and want to say something comforting.  For the most part, they mean well.  I know that!  HOWEVER, almost everything that was said to us was wrong.  There isn't really much information out there for people on how to deal with these types of situations, so I think that people just try to wing it.  Please stop.  In an effort to help anyone put in a situation where you feel you need to comfort a grieving parent, here is my list of things NOT to say, in no particular order.  (And yes, people did say these things to me.)

1. "God must have needed him more than you." or "He was needed in heaven for some important work!"
In that moment, and probably for the rest of my life, nobody needed him more than me.  Hearing that only made me mad.  It isn't possible that anyone could need him more than his more than his mother, and you will never convince his grieving mother otherwise.

2. "He isn't really there, his spirit is gone, that's just his shell!" or "That isn't him! He's already in Heaven!"
I realize that his spirit is no longer there.  But I loved every aspect of that tiny person.  Not just his spirit.  I loved his body too.  That was the part that I grew inside of me, that I nursed late at night, that I watched sleep, that I cleaned up after, that I bathed, that I loved to smell, that I snuggled in the early mornings after daddy went to work.  That was even the part that I had to swat on the bottom when his strong will ignored mommy!  Don't tell me that isn't him!  That is the him that I won't be able to hold and hug for a really long time, and I am constantly aching for.  Hearing that will just make me mad.

3. "At least you have _ (insert number here) other kids." or "You have _ other kids that need you."
Really?????  You're right, I do.  HOWEVER, they are all alive, this one isn't!  I know that they are still important and need my love and attention, but for right this second, I'm going to focus a lot of my time, energy and emotion into grieving for the one who isn't alive. If you have a problem with that, you can kiss my back side!  Those kids are welcome to come and join my pity party, but I am not going to go on with life like nothing happened just because I have other kids.  Hearing that will also make me mad.

4. "I know how you feel.  When my mom (dad, grandma, grandpa, dog) died..."
Guess what?... You don't know how I feel.  Did your 14 month old get run over by a car?  No?  Then don't tell me that you know how I feel.  Your sorrow when you had to put down the family pet is not something you should ever compare to my child dying.  Your husband leaving you is not the same kind of emotional pain as when my son died, so don't you dare tell me that you know how I feel.  Even those people who had children who died who said this to me made me mad.  Their situations weren't the same.  Their kids were 15, or 30 or even 5.  Mine was only 14 months old, so to me, it was different.  Hearing this made me mad.

5. "You are so lucky!  You got to be the parents to someone so perfect that his mission on earth only had to be a few short months!"
I don't feel so lucky.  If this is luck, I want out of this lottery.  This didn't bring me comfort, just mad.

6. "At least you have the knowledge of the Gospel."
I realize that people think that this will make me feel all warm and fuzzy.  It doesn't.  Yes, I know that we are an eternal family, and that I will be able to raise Gabriel someday.  I guess in a way that is comforting, which is better than utter despair, but I am mortal.  Part of mortality is imperfection.  One of my many imperfect qualities is my lack of patience.  Someday isn't good enough for me.  I want him 7 years ago.  I want him to be preparing for his baptism next month.  I want to be grounding him for sassing me and not doing his chores, and breaking things.  I want him to be laughing, or fighting, in the other room with his brothers and his sister.  I want his younger sister and brother to know who he is, to know that he is an actual person, not just a headstone!  So, unfortunately, that isn't really a great thing to say either.

If you really want to comfort a grieving parent, here is my advice.  Give them a hug.  Tell them you are sorry.  Pray for them.  Put them on they prayer rolls at the Temples.  Take them a meal, but don't stick around and talk unless they invite you to.  Most importantly, two weeks after the fact, when everything has died down, when everyone has gone back to work and the kids are all back in school.  When the meals stop coming in, and all of the flowers have died, and the visitors have stopped.  The mom is going to be all alone.  That is when she will really realize that the world is going to continue without her baby whether she wants it to or not.  That really sucks.  This is the time that she will really need your comfort.  Please give her a new hug.  Take over a fresh meal so that she can have one more day of crying.  Send over a fresh bouquet of flowers so that she doesn't have to throw all of them away. (nothing worse than having to throw out dead flowers after burring your dead child.  Sounds weird, but it was awful for us.  Thanks Kinders for that straggler!  It saved us!)  Take her other children for a play date so that she can have a few more hours of personal grief.  It is really hard to start life again after death.  Love and friendship will do so much more than words, I promise.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

I'm in big trouble!

I don't know what my problem is, but I just don't like blogging, journaling or scrapbooking as much as I want to. I want to remember all the stuff my family says and does, I just want someone else to do the work for me! So, Ryan has spent more time on this blog recently than I have. He called me from work tonight to tell me that the background needed to be changed because it was too hard to read the words, then he reminded me that I haven't posted anything since June, and that was about Ashton's 6th birthday (he turned 7 a month and a half ago). So, the big question is, do I try to cram in the last year of our lives, or just try to start fresh with today? Any opinions? There probably isn't even anyone left who checks this thing! Ha, ha! Guess that is what I get for being such a slacker!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Happy Birthday Achies!

Ashton is 6!! Man, I must be getting old! I have a hard time with the fact that I have children this old! He had a great birthday, all sorts of attention showered on him, just what a boy like him needs! Just look at that cute boy! He got a giant dart gun which has been used on him (thanks to dad) more than by him! Good times, we found all the darts we could and everyone joined in and had a war using all of the little dart guns against the big one! As much as he liked his gun, I am pretty sure that the squeeze cheese and crackers were his favorite present! Too bad that Jace helped him eat all of the cheese before he even got to try it!

Look how excited he is! So funny! I should just get my kids snack food for all of their birthdays, they like those presents most!

Somehow, I managed to not get a picture of his cake? So, here was the conversation.
Me: What kind of cake do you want for your birthday?
him: Chocolate, with chocolate frosting!
(really? How original!)
me: well, do you want it to look like something? or have a picture on it of something?
Him: Yeah! I want a skeleton head on it!
me: A skull?
Him: Yeah! That would be cool to have a skeleton head on it huh?
Me: Way cool!
So, I let him pick a picture from the Internet, and that was what he got! He loved it, and I guess that is all that really matters!
I sure do love this little booger! You will never find a more affectionate boy!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Light Parade and too much snow!

For the past 3 years, Nephi has has a lighting ceremony and light parade the weekend after Thanksgiving. They have groups of kids from the schools sing, and this year Jace got a turn. Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication as to what time the program started, so we stood in the freezing wind for close to an hour before it started! My poor baby and Grandpa were so cold! It is close to impossible to see Jace in this picture, he's the one in the middle with the Santa hat on. They did a good job! I couldn't hear them, but I am sure that there is no way that the 2nd graders could have done anything but a super good job!

After the program, we have a Light Parade. There were lots of great floats, this is the gingerbread house that I helped with for the Arts Council. It turned out really cute!

Keira was dying to get out and play in the snow this year with her brothers, so here is her first excursion into the depths of our yard! Yes, she is wearing boy clothes! That's what you get when you are the youngest of 5, and the only girl! There are only boy hand-me-downs! For now, she doesn't seem to mind, so I'll make it work for as long as I can!

The snow was clear up to her little hips! I just set her in the middle of it and walked away to see what she would do....... Looks fun.... for now!

Ugh, I've fallen, and I can't get up!.....

I finally got this smile after lots of tickling and face making! She was pretty upset at being left to dig herself out!

Man, I made a cute baby!

Yup, still alive!

I'll admit it, I'm kind of a lazy jerk! I think about how far behind I am on this blog, and I get a little overwhelmed, so then I don't do anything, and then I get even more behind! I am remembering why scrap booking never worked for me! I started when Branden was already 4, and just couldn't catch up!
So, here is a new, super long condensed version of our lives to date!
First off, Halloween. I would skip it, but my kids are just so cute! We just do the town trunk-r-treat here, which I love! 20 minutes, and way more candy than my kids should eat in a lifetime! Here is the combined haul!
Cutest monsters ever with a scary ninja and of course, the bleeding ghost guy!
Go ahead, tell that face that you aren't going to take a picture while it's grinning while saying "Cheese". I can't do it! You should have heard her do her monster growl! Hilarious!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Flash Forward

So, I know that I still haven't posted about Christmas or a bunch of other things, but I couldn't just wait to post about my little man. Today is Gabriel's 4th birthday. Again, not so fun without the 4 year old. We try to make the best of it, and because bowling was such a hit last year, we went again this year. We went yesterday, unfortunately, it was more of a last minute decision this year than it was last year, so I forgot my camera, and we didn't get to invite so many people. Luckily, Grandma and Grandpa Bateman didn't have plans and were able to join us. We are also super lucky this year to have Great Grandpa George living so close, because he was able to come with us too. It was really a good time. I was pretty worried that either my dad or my grandpa were going to do a face plant right at the line, but the bowling Gods smiled down on us, and there were no casualties. It took Grandpa George a few frames to remember how to bowl (apparently, he used to bowl on a league) but eventually, he got his groove back and ended up getting a higher score than my mom! After we all made fools of ourselves (Branden got the highest score of 107), we went across the street to get Chinese food. It was delish! This Afternoon, the kids and I went to the cemetery and put up birthday decorations, and each kid got to let one balloon go (4, one for each year) to heaven for Gabriel to play with. Tonight, we got together with my parents and Grandpa George again, I made dinner, and then we had brownies and ice cream. This is a difficult day for me, but it is a little easier when I have so many great friends and family members around me to lift my spirits and remind me how much I still have to live for. I love you little man!

(Pictures will have to follow later, my camera didn't want to cooperate with the computer today!)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Open hearts

Our book club this month is reading a book by Virginia H. Pearce titled A Heart Like His. When I first looked at it, my thoughts were "I'll try, but I won't like it". It isn't that I don't like spiritually uplifting literature, it is just that I have never done well with lectures. I have a hard time listening in classes, of all types, even though I want the knowledge offered. I constantly find my mind wandering to all sorts of other things. This is true with lecture type books also. I read the same page 5 times and the knowledge still won't sink in. I get it for that minute, but by the time I've read the next page, it is all forgotten. I am the type of person who needs a story to follow. I love history, but hate history books! I do, however, enjoy historical fiction. I get the history, but I also have a storyline to follow.

Back to my book club book. I got it today in church, and glanced at it briefly, then put it away in my bag. While my kids were playing video games tonight, I dug it out thinking that I might as well get a start on it, considering that it was going to take me all month to get through the 106 pages (in a normal book, that would take me maybe two hours). An hour later, I was already to page 71! I am so excited! Not only am I remembering the things that I have read, they are already making a huge impact on my life.
I have spent the last 2 and a half years in a horrible place. I have to convince myself everyday that it is a good idea just to be alive. Though I try not to live in a pity party by myself, it has been extremely hard. I love my family more than anything. They are like a drug to me. I am literally addicted to my children. Yes, they make me crazy everyday, but it makes me more crazy to be without them. Because of the loss of one of my choicest "drugs" I have felt like it will never be possible to be completely happy again. I am tired, irritable, and I am sure that I am just a joy to be around!

I know that everyone has their own trials, but it is hard for me to see that anyone could possibly suffer more than me. My feelings have put strains on all of my relationships. I am sure that I have pushed more than one friend away because of my "hard heart". As I have read this book, it has brought me some great insight. At one point, the author asks "Are you feeling the love of God - that He loves you, personally?" My answer has to be no. I have felt terribly abandoned. My hard heart has closed me off to the feelings of love that my Father in Heaven, I am sure, is trying to get to me. How do I change this? The whole idea of the book is that if we open our hearts, soften them, to the people around us, we will not only help them feel Gods love in their lives, but also in our own.
Sister Pearce states that when we feel His love, we feel "Acknowledged, accepted, validated, noticed, cared for, supported, encouraged, uplifted, motivated, inspired, comforted, HEALED, nourished, nurtured, changed, more confident, more able." Isn't this what we all want from life? To feel these things? If I can help someone else receive these feelings in their lives, will it really help me feel them? This is all I have ever wanted! I NEED to feel His love for me, with out it, I can't feel any other love for me. I am going to try to ignore my selfish impulses, and do my best to open my heart. I may be able to save some lives in the process, mine included.