What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. This guest post is by Alyssa.
I want people to know that even though it's been 8 years since my daughter died at age 3 months, I still grieve. I wish people understood that not talking about it doesn't help me. It angers me and saddens me. I wish people could understand that even though I have since had another beautiful and healthy child, she is not a replacement of my first.
On what would have been my daughter's first birthday, only 1 person outwardly recognized it. My dear friend baked brownies and gave me a card. It wasn't a birthday cake or a birthday card but it meant the world to me. Nobody else wanted to face it. My husband, my mother, my sister, my friends, my church family all pretty much ignored it. I understand they may not have known what to do, since there is no manual on that kind of thing, but I can't help feeling like it shouldn't be that hard to say ʺI know today is her birthday & it must be a really tough day for you.ʺ
If you know someone who has lost a child, don't tell them they can have another one, or to be extra thankful for the ones they already have. Don't tell them you know how they feel, because you don't. Don't tell them that God must have needed another angel. Don't tell them that you lost your pet once and can't imagine what it must be like to lose a child. (yes, that really happened.) Don't tell them that God won't give you anything you can't handle. None of these things are true nor are they comforting. As a matter of fact, if I could punch all of the people who said these things to me in the face, I would probably have a broken hand and have to switch to my left.
If you don't know what to say, then say, ʺI don't know what to say.ʺ Silence is good sometimes but sometimes it can be devastating. Talking about my daughter helps me remember how wonderful her life was while she was here.
My point is this: time does not heal. No matter how long it's been, if you know someone who has lost a child, don't assume they are ʺover it.ʺ It's something that never goes away.