Saturday, September 24, 2011

What Not to Say to a Grieving Parent: Part 3

You should be more compassionate and forgiving.

I've had a bad week. It seemed like this was the week when insensitive comment after insensitive comment rolled in every day. Most of my friends think I'm too nice when it comes to the harsh remarks people feel the need to share with me. I don't think it's that, though. Mostly I'm either shocked or not entirely certain someone really meant to say or write what they did. I also have a lot of compassion for how awkward the situation can be for some people. Loss, especially loss involving a child, isn't the norm, thank goodness. So I tend to err on the side of assuming that people don't mean to be jerks. Or, when I am feeling less generous, I fall back on Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

So I was shocked when someone close to me berated me for not forgiving people and for holding grudges. What? They said I wasn't forgiving enough and that as I get older, I will be more compassionate. Um. No? I simply have healthy boundaries. I should know! I've seen three different counselors over the past 5 years in order to learn how to set and maintain them! (My regular counselor, the 8 year tuneup guy Mike and I went to a few times late last year, and Stephan who led us through my dad's intervention and aftermath 5 years ago--details because I know you're curious, haha) I can forgive people all day long but it doesn't mean they get to keep special spots in my life. I remember teaching a Sunday school lessons years ago that used a good example. If your friend has a tendency to hit you or be mean, what do you do? Forgive the friend but don't spend any more time alone with them--there was other stuff in there about telling adults and chances but you get what I mean.

Here's the thing, I have a lot to deal with right now. I've lost my little one. Today we had family snuggle time and I was so sad because we are missing one...I'll be learning how to deal with that for the rest of my life, if other women who have been through this are any indication. I'm also learning how to deal with the fact that barring any major medical miracles, we won't have any more biological children. Last night, autumn woke up and wandered into our room asking for baby Garrett and wanting to know if he was still in heaven. She weeps every time I drop her off anywhere and she and I have been working on different ways to help ease her anxiety (I think we hit on one so I might blog that if it continues to work). I don't sleep well anymore. Mike and I still have nightmares and flashbacks...

All that to say...I have a lot to deal with and I reserve the right to take care of myself; now, more than ever. This is easier said that done because, unfortunately, I think this is going to damage my relationship with this person. We have never seen eye to eye on enabling behaviors and setting boundaries. I care very much about them but don't interfere with this person's decisions unless I'm directly asked because I know my answers upset them. I'm not even sure why I am so hurt that they would call me unforgiving and a grudge holder because I shouldn't be shocked. I guess it's just part of the trial of having crazy family. The crazy usually doesn't change and even when we try, there's still so much twisting and turning to unravel from the history of unhealthiness, as Mike said to me when I was in the kitchen wondering why I still care--and why I do exactly the opposite of what this person accused me of: forgive.

Click here for the rest of the What Not to Say series


  1. I was wondering if you'd blogged about this.

    It boggles my mind. It truly does. I can't wrap my head around the series of events that led to "some person" telling you to be more forgiving.

    Also, you should do a WNTSTAGP on that facebook comment that was trying to make a joke and ...was awful.

  2. We should be compassionate and forgiving, but you go into detail so well that I see now why I sometimes feel angry when people talk to me about my attitude toward other people and situations. You are such a good writer. By the way, if it was me or ma, you know we are not smart enough to think outside the bun at any given time so forgive me if I'm ever dumb to you. And Justin was the first person who ever discussed healthy boundaries wih me. It is a difficult thing to achieve because I'm a natural enabler.

  3. Tamara: I probably will. I'm thinking about writing about extremes: the people who are freakishly silent about it until they choose something horrible to say and the people who called/texted/pestered me every. freaking. day in the hospital and who haven't said a WORD to me since I didn't invite them to the mostly private funeral. I call them tragedy friends.

    Valerie: Thank you. And, you can safely assume that anything I write isn't about anyone who reads the blog. :) I think everyone has a tendency to enable--even me and Tamara sometimes and we're darn independent people! And helping and being kind and compassionate is absolutely not a bad thing...until it or the person starts to hurt you. Or it starts to hurt the other person. It's about balance and I think we always struggle to maintain it, you know? Also, you and ma are plenty smart. You both do things I could never do in a million years.