I have had several people say things to my face about my grief, how I am grieving, with their opinions on what happened, what I should have done, what I should have said, how I should have acted or should act...I've heard just about everything. I have had a few horrific experiences where people said things and I had to stand there and try to keep my composure as my heart was being ripped to shreds.
Sadly, I am used to this. It is my life. It is what I deal with every day, as does every other parent who has lost a child.
So, when I saw this tweet from Loralee, I wasn't too surprised. I had barely responded to her tweet when my phone rang, I knew that number, it was her.
Since we live in the same town and have been walking this walk for the same amount of time, we often will chat and vent to one another. I knew this call was coming.
I immediately asked what happened, and she summed it up saying that a woman had sent her a very concerned email. This woman had seen that she was speaking at a conference this summer and was really worried about how she was going to be able to handle speaking about grief when she seems to be so fixated on hers. She implied that she didn't think it was healthy and helping anyone to be so focused on the child that was gone and that by posting about him twice in a row was, excessive.
This is where I dropped the phone because I could not believe that someone had the audacity to tell her how to grieve and what was and wasn't okay. Seriously. The woman then went on to say that what she really had a problem with was this picture.
My first thought was, why? Because her son was leaning on the headstone? But no, because it is morbid and inappropriate to post a picture of her family around the headstone of her dead son. The only family picture you can get with all of your children in it.
Does she mean like this??? Like the SEVERAL pictures I have of my kids playing with their sister the only way they can? The pictures that I have of my family with one of the only tangible things I have left of Emma? Is this what she was talking about? Maybe I am a bit excessive too and maybe I am a bit fixated on my child.
Click to make it bigger...that is if you don't think it's too morbid.
Now, I rarely get into anything like this online. If someone hurts a friend, I console my friend in private, but will rarely say a word online because I am a peacemaker and like everyone to be happy.
But this crossed a line for me. Let me just say this, if you have not lost a child do not tell a grieving parent what they should and shouldn't do and what seems excessive to you. You have no idea. You don't know what it is like to have Mother's Day come and to know that you have only part of your family here with you. You don't know what it is like to have birthday's come only to go celebrate them in a cemetery. You don't know what it is like to watch other children your child's age grow and know that you will not get to see that. You just don't know.
Heck, I have lost a child and I still wouldn't do that. Why? Because everyone grieves so differently. Grief is a strange animal and it manifests in so many different ways.
I have chosen writing to help me on my path to healing. It isn't for everyone. In fact a few months after Emma died, I convinced Jeremy that he should get a journal and start writing. I mean, it was helping me, surely it would help him, right? Wrong. He wrote in it once. What helps one person may not help another.
If you go into my archives and read around August and December (yep, including July, September, November and January) of every year you will find many posts about Emma. You will see that I am sad, I am focusing on her, I am maybe even writing about her excessively. But guess what? That is my prerogative. This is how I have chosen to cope, to heal, to live my life. If you don't like it I have 4 words for you.
One more thing that was mentioned, either in that email or another one Loralee received that night. She was told to stop focusing so much on the child that is gone and start focusing more on the children that are here.
I really have a hard time with this. I have been told this several times by many well intentioned people. But here is the thing. I focus almost all of my time and energy on my living children. I am with them day in and day out. I feed them, clothe them, play with them, shuttle them to and fro, do all the things a Mother does and I am dang good at it. I am there for them, I listen to them, I rock them, I dry their tears and I cry with them. And just because I do all of that with them doesn't make me love and miss Emma any less.
So, why would it make me be less present and love my living children less if I still miss Emma? If I cry about her, if I long for her, if I wish with all my heart I could do all the things I am doing with my other kids with her? Why is that not okay? Why is that so taboo? Why can't I do both? Why can't we all do both?
I love all of my children. They each make my heart ache in their own way. I swell with pride when thinking about each of them. And at times I fixate on each of them individually. And if when I am hurting because I miss the one who is not here, I write about her a bit more than usual, that's okay. It's how I am healing.
And I am healing.