Monday, March 8, 2010

Judging Grief

What I am about to say is not intended to touch everyone. It is not going to be understood by most. And by all means, I am not trying to change or fix anyone. I am purely and genuinely going to vent.

I don't understand the way people react to someone's grief. I have read about, been told it would happen and seen people react to me in very peculiar ways. Specifically, people have left my side and no longer fill the role of a friend.

I know someone who's son, years ago, was killed just days before his college graduation. My heart went out to her. She was not a close friend, but a friend indeed and I didn't know what to do for her. She was surrounded by so many who loved her and had so much support, or so it looked from the outside. I felt so bad for her and wanted badly to reach out to her. I had been told that a couple months after a tragedy is when people generally find themselves alone as their family goes back home and everyone goes on with their lives. So I wrote in my day planner on the day 2 months from her tragedy to send her a card and I did so. I saw her a few months later and asked her how she was doing and was surprised how much she shared with me. At the time, I did not know how to handle her grief. Now I do. Now I know and understand how much she wanted to talk about her son to me, a distant friend. But one thing I didn't do, was judge her.

Before Chase died, I could have never imagined the pain she went through and how it would guide her every day. How that pain would override every thought, every emotion, every feeling, every thing she did in her life. So I never judged her actions, her choices, her weight loss, her weight gain, her change in appearance, her behavior. After the loss she had endured, any of those things were destined to be affected or change and change again and my heart continued to ache for her. This was the outsider's point of view of grief that I had.

Now, having lost my own child, and having endured the pain of this and learning to live with it every day of my life, I don't understand why I am judged. "Chase died and then she just quit talking to me." In my head, I can just hear these comments. "She got mad at me because I'm still friends with her doctor's friend's sister's husband's cousin's neighbor's uncle. How insane is that? Like they had anything to do with it."

I can't explain my feelings. I can't tell you why I feel the way I do or why I do the things I do or why I say some of the things I say. I'm hurting. Inside. Always. And the anger side of grief will sometimes guide me to do things that I could not ever expect you to understand. Unless your child had died, too. Think of it this way, and then try to justify the way you feel. Try to explain it to someone why you can't stand to be around someone who is 6 degrees of separation away from the person who is responsible for your son's death. Sounds crazy, I know.

The "funeral home guy" told me that his very close friends lost a teenage son and because of the whole funeral and burial thing, his grieving friends quit talking to he and his wife. He acknowledged that they probably equated the death of their son to them but he didn't know why they quit talking to them--they had been such close friends. My reaction to that was, "Don't judge them". No, you didn't cause the death of their son, but you remind them so vividly of those particular moments following their tragedy that I don't blame them. I don't know why we act this way, but I completely understand. It's unfortunate and, sadly, I can totally relate. I, personally, wanted to jump in a hole--to hide from everyone, everything. All the while feeling like I was living in a glass house. Maybe it was my own insecurities, my shattered faith, my pain, but I didn't want to see anyone I knew....except for my closest friends.

To date, however, nearly all of those closest friends are gone. Most have left my side. Some made choices. Choices I could not accept. For reasons I cannot explain. So I remain misunderstood, misjudged. As if it matters. Because I am much better off than I was, all things considered. There are new friends in place. Some closer old friends. And I am starting over, the new me. I'm not going to say improved, but I will call myself real. I see things with people so much more clearly than I ever had. My family, though the most important thing in my life before Chase died, is the center of my universe. And I love them with every breath I take.


  1. Thinking of you and getting that some friends are just for a season. I find my best friends are the ones that have also lost children (and we met in our support group) I can't imagine that season of friendship ever changing... but it still sucks! It doesn't make sense! But in the end you're right- you're better off and you know what you need- and so do those closest to you! Hugs-

  2. I understand every single word. I realized long ago just how different I am now. How hard it is to live in a world of people that don't understand me and people that I don't understand.

    Thank you for being a great support for me. I am in the middle of my month but I will be there when you are in the middle of yours.


  3. I get it, I know it, I've lived it. I wonder, do people think that losing a child is contagious. And yet there are those friends, Those that seem to come from nowhere. They are solid and strong and sure. They are not afraid of our rantings, our anger, our bloody raw emotion. One of my friends from many years past has stepped up and been unmovable since Laynee died. The friends that I thought were friends are gone, and what's strange, is that I don't miss them.

  4. Christy, I can relate. I once (at a wedding shower) almost completely ignored this woman that I just met, because I thought she looked like a woman who was on the midwives council who heard and adjudicated my complaint. Of course she wasn't even the same woman, but just the thought that she could be filled me with fear and distaste. It is funny how the mind works. It's difficult to escape those degrees of separation.
    I'm hoping for rich, supportive friendships for you.

  5. I totally get it Christy...xx

  6. I too understand what you are saying. Its almost beyond words to be able to explain it so that "others" would understand. And yet you dont want them to truly understand, for if they did that means they would have had to go through the same thing. And I wouldnt not wish that on anyone.

    nearly 3 years after the loss of my first daughter I find myself friendless and even family-less. My husband left shortly after our daughter was born, he didnt even stick around to see our rainbow baby make his entrance in this world. My friends all disappeared somehow and we all lost touch. And my family refuses to acknowledge that I had a daughter. I longed so badly to talk about her and when I brought up her name (and they knew what I named her) their reply was "who is that?" when I reminded them that she was and is my daughter they replied with "your daughter?" as if to say I never met her so she must not exist. They dont understand nor will they ever.

    I find myself so alone these days.

  7. "And I am starting over, the new me. I'm not going to say improved, but I will call myself real."

    What a powerful way to look at the new you. Real is what we all should be. <3 you Christy

  8. Sadly, I relate to this post more than I want to. I have found that truth too. Some of my oldest and closet friends have faded away or simply just not acknowledged my losses. And for that, yes, I too think Im better off. Hard times really do show you who your real friends are. I wish I never had to have learned that lessen, but here I am. *HUGS*

  9. Sending you *big* HUGS, Christy. It seems like after enduring pure heartache that everything in life should just be easy. I am so sorry for the people that are judging you. I love the way you described yourself as "real" that is a great way to look at it.


  10. I can definitely see how the grieving are judged. People don't get it or understand it so the assume many things, which they really shouldn't. Just because you know a person or are friends with them or are related doesn't mean you understand what they are going through.