I know there are a million and one posts on the internet about what not to say to a bereaved parent. And I don’t have much more to offer, but I thought I would share my personal experiences. In no particular order:
How are you?
While the question itself really isn’t that bad – sometimes it’s actually quite nice when people ask such a simple question – nobody ever wanted to hear the answer, and this is why I couldn’t stand people asking. If I said I was anything worse than good, most people would just go silent and change the topic. Even just ‘okay’ was not an acceptable answer. Sometimes people would try to convince me that I was, in fact, good. Nobody wanted to actually talk about how I was feeling unless I was feeling great, which clearly I wasn’t. I ended up telling everyone not to ask unless they were prepared to hear that I wasn’t as great as they wanted me to be. I have been asked precisely twice since then.
You are so strong!
I’m really not. I have to go through this pain and survive somehow. Crumbling to pieces and refusing to function aren’t very appealing options, although I don’t feel like I’m doing much better than that anyway. Don’t marvel at how “strong” I am – I’m just trying to cope in any way I can.
You can still have more kids or Are you going to try again?
Yes, another baby would be a blessing – but it is not some sort of consolation prize for losing the ones I already had and so desperately wanted. Another baby will not replace my sons, and having another child will not make me suddenly forget my sons or feel better about losing them. Nothing will ever take away the pain of not being able to watch my sons grow up.
Everything happens for a reason.
No. Shut up. There is no acceptable reason for my sons to have had their lives taken from them. End of story.
They’re in a better place.
Personally, I believe the best place for my sons is probably here with me. I do like to believe they’re somewhere lovely, looking down on us and smiling. But I can’t believe that that place is better than getting to experience life and the love I have for them.
(Insert name here) just had their baby safely.
For some reason, everyone felt the need to inform me that their friends or relatives had just had a healthy baby. Why, thank you! Thank you for letting me know that someone I don’t know or care about now gets to experience everything I don’t. Thank you to my mother-in-law, for informing me that some cousin of yours that my partner and I had never met had just become a grandmother and her grandchild was born safely. Thanks dad, for letting me know that somebody in town had just had their seventh child, and then going on about how amazing it was that she had seven children; while I sat there with my own empty arms. I don’t even know these people, and I don’t really care to hear their good news when mine is nothing but sad.