Christmas Cards INCLUDE them
“I’m sorry my grief offends you”
The state of our current world feels restless. There is civil and political unrest on top of a pandemic. Family, friends and neighbors have been alienated because of it. The trustworthiness of a fact seems to have lost its meaning, so how can conversations happen?
Which brings me to grief. What are the facts of how you’re supposed to act while grieving? Are there facts? Did I miss that handout at the hospital? Do your facts and standards change based on whether or not you can relate to a person’s grief? In my limited experience, I’d have to say yes. So how is it possible there is a general society-expected right or wrong way to act when it comes to grief, if facts can change by person?
Getting ready for the Christmas holiday after you’ve lost a baby brings a lot of mixed emotion. Joy and sadness intertwine like they do everyday, but in a much more amplified way. We wrote Christmas cards this year like we do every year, and on the back I included a small family picture of my husband and myself, holding our son, with our daughter by our side while we said goodbye to him at the hospital. Christmas cards display pictures of your family and to me, this is the only one I have of our complete family. I wanted to honor that space in our Christmas tradition and share it with close family and friends. My worst thought was if someone is uncomfortable with seeing my son, they would look away and simply see a grieving mother for what she is. Then they would move onto the next thing and dismiss him because no one wants to dwell on such an intense grief. I can respect that, I have been there in the before grief.
It was eye-opening to learn that people close to us could be capable of seeing our grief and tribute to our son as “inappropriate” and followed by being told directly to “move on”. I was told those exact words by a pair of our family members. I was shocked and furious with their callousness I couldn’t dream of using on anyone, then I was confused. They truly believe what they said was their truth and that I was out of line and haven’t shown signs of healing. Healing to them means forgetting and not talking about my baby anymore, certainly not dare to show a picture of him. Healing to me means I put on pants, ate food, and went outside for a walk with my daughter and dog today. Healing to me means acknowledging there is pain, not hiding away and waiting to be surprisingly overwhelmed by it.
How do I begin to respond to people who have their own set of facts of right and wrong that starkly contrast my own? Who aren’t capable of bending their ears and their mouths to their hearts?
I don’t like the idea of cutting off family. There has already been too much loss in my life for me to do so easily. But they asked for healing and moving on, so I think that is just what I’ll do... from them. I’m sorry my grief offends you, but I don’t actually care.
A little note from our founder Sydelle
We hope this message from Jessica whose son Noah died earlier this year (his story is on a previous blog post) sheds light on how personal words can feel, how some things cannot be forgiven, and how attitude towards others even if it is family can be forever tainted. I applaud any mama that stands up for their baby's, keeps their voice loud and does not let the ties of relationships make them feel uncomfortable.
If you have never experienced the death of a child your comments do not belong, plain and simple. OUR family has forever been altered and we choose to recognize that outwardly to just briefly, just barely and just slightly touch on how internally life feels.
Holidays are hard enough, forever changed, and downright hard and not fun, be kind and do not make it harder.