People’s reactions to the bereaved – by James

When we hear that someone has lost a family member and specifically a child we are often times lost about what to do or say. When you experience a traumatic and sudden loss of a child you start understanding the varied responses that people give to your loss.

Some people are naturally carers and know instinctively what to say and do. Some people are so torn up themselves they cannot call or approach you because it’s just too much. Others adopt an avoidance approach where the subject is not broached at all, possibly mistakenly thinking that the person wants to forget or that a few hours without thinking about it would be good for that person.

A situation like losing our daughter has put all of these varied responses before us in plain sight. You stop and think about why a person who is your friend hasn’t contacted you or why someone you know avoided you completely when you saw them in passing. You wonder why people would consciously avoid saying anything to you at all when all you can think about is your dear sweet baby.

At first you are annoyed or shocked. People talk about only having the ability to relate to something only if you have experienced it yourself. Not many have experienced losing their child. When you really think about it though you start understanding that the difference which is needling you is in fact a blessing in disguise.

Our therapist has told us that we are to surround ourselves only with people who we feel safe with. I am not sure if safe is the right word but I think the main point here is that you need to ensure that you look after yourself, that you put yourself first. You only see people when you absolutely feel like you can. You politely shy away from social engagements where you may be asked a lot of questions or experience people avoiding that which fills your mind. You ensure at all times that you are able to, to a certain degree, control the depth of emotion that you could potentially feel. Some people are easy going and being with them gently lifts your spirit. Others take more from you without meaning expressly to do so and inadvertently and unfortunately push you into a place of angst.  At times of extreme bereavement you just don’t have the energy to have to defend your tattered self from that pressure.

Put yourself first, be gentle with yourself, ensure that you do what feels comfortable and focus on getting back on your feet. No-one will hold anything against you, at least not those who are meant to be in your life.

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” – Kahlil Gibran

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