I got a letter from "The Compassionate Friends" today. It is interesting that an organization that I've never heard of has sent me a letter offering their sympathy at the loss of my baby, but it is nice to get mail that isn't a bill. I do have to admit we have received a few sympathy cards in the mail over the past few weeks. They are both difficult and comforting to read.
As I read the enclosures with the letter I also found it interesting that all the "grief material" is given to the ones doing the grieving. I don't feel like I need someone to tell me that grief is "painful and traumatic". I already knew that, already felt those feelings.
However, it is comforting to know that others have felt similar feelings, and that my feelings of "isolation" are typical of a grieving parent and not a sign that I am friendless, unloved, and unwanted. Depression talks loud, and lies. I may know that they are lies in the logical part of my brain, but the emotional part talks a lot louder sometimes.
After reading the brochure I wondered if "The Compassionate Friends" can figure out who I am - why can't they figure out who my friends and family are and mail them the brochure, or instead of the "Stillbirth, Miscarriage, and Infant Death” brochure they could mail them the "How Can I Help" brochure.
If you don't have time to read the whole brochure - I will highlight the two ways that I could use help the most.
— Be there. Run errands, help with household chores, provide child care, and help in whatever way is needed. Don’t say, “Call me if there is anything I can do.” That call will probably never come. Be aware of what needs to be done and offer to do specific tasks.
Being there is important. If you aren't in my home you have no idea how I am doing, or what needs I have. If you don't ask, I probably won't tell you what I need, and to make my life a little easier you could look around and offer something specific. Since I still have 5 kids that eat and wear clothes I probably have a dishwasher that needs loaded or a load of laundry that needs folded. Even if you just sit in my kitchen and visit with me while I clean could be very helpful, if I am physically recovered. My mind is clearing now, but it was so fuzzy for awhile, I had trouble maintaining a thought long enough to articulate it. I'm spending so much time at the grocery store now though because I can't seem to plan more than a meal or two ahead, and so I'm constantly needed to go shopping for food for the next meal.
I honestly don't know how my kids are doing. I don't know if they are grieving. I've tried talking to them a couple of times. I don't know if they are feeling ignored. I locked myself in my room quite a bit at first, only doing what was absolutely necessary that I do. Physically and mentally I needed time off, and emotionally I was on a rollercoaster, and didn't want to take it out on my kids, so retreating was probably the best option. Lately we've been having fun with our family that has been in town, but I'm beginning to realize that it has been to much fun. We have had very little down time, and almost zero family time. What little time we have has been taken up with trying to get our housework, bills, library books, yard work and etc. caught up. My kids have had a lot of fun, and some chores, but are they being emotionally supported? I don't think so, because even our family traditions of scripture study, family home evening, and family prayer of taken a huge hit amongst all the chaos.
— Give special attention to surviving children. They are hurt, confused, and often ignored. Don’t assume they are not hurting because they do not express their feelings. Many times siblings will suppress their grief to avoid adding to their parents’ pain. Talk to them and acknowledge their loss.
The brochures are really helpful, but they can only help so much. Real friends, as opposed to unknown "compassionate friends" and virtual "facebook friends" would be welcome in my life.