Monday, August 19, 2013

Stupid Comments That Make a Grieving Parent's Heart Bleed

And the comments kept coming…

            Another church friend lamented to Chris and me the challenge of having two children. “The dynamics of having two is an experience! You only have the one.” 
            We were too stunned to reply, to move. Not by choice our hearts screamed in tandem. Oh, how I wished we hadn’t been robbed of that adventure; how I wished our friend hadn’t reminded me—and in such patronizing words—of the theft. Oh, how I wished people more carefully considered their words’ impact before they set their lips moving. The unexpected, poorly chosen utterance struck me as firmly across the face as a succinct hand slap. 

            This man and his family were intimate friends. They had lived through our tragedy with us. What was he thinking? Maybe, like so many others, he wasn't.
            And the comments never seemed to end. Months after my second son was born, I stood in line at the post office with my two boys, Parker held my hand, Cory reclined in his stroller. The woman in front of me turned around and launched into generous, congratulatory remarks about how adorable my sons were, that boys are so much fun, etc., etc. Then she ruined it; effectively trampled on and dirtied all her sweet, lavish words when she cocked her head, flipped her hand toward me, smiled broadly and said, “You should try again for a girl!”
            My back went rigid; the smile vanished from my face. My eyes narrowed, and no doubt glazed over with a menacing glare. I wouldn’t have been surprised if they ejected blistering flames. I’d had enough of stupid comments, and this poor, unsuspecting woman received the brunt of my unleashed anger at her thoughtlessness. I showed no mercy. “I already had a girl, and she died. And I can’t have anymore children.”
            Her eyes cranked open as she reared back on her heals like she’d been shot. Her face paled. I thought she might faint, collapse backward onto the cold, tile floor. Then her shoulders hunched over as she tried to make herself smaller, invisible. She squeaked out an, “Oh,” then slowly turned away from me and stared at the service counter until it was her turn to approach it. Thankfully—for both of us—she didn’t have to wait long for that to happen.
            Yet nearly twenty years ago—while still thrashing around in the midst of my raw turmoil—how could I consider trying to have another child so soon after my loss? My doctor insisted my uterus would be physically ready in just three or four months. Even a friend who was an obstetrician made an immediate pronouncement: “You should get pregnant right away. Forget about it and try again.”
            Forget about it? Deny it? Miraculously erase all the memories and pain by rushing into another pregnancy? Is that the advice they solicited in medical school and permeated throughout the medical community? I’d be trying to replace Victoria. That wasn’t going to happen; we couldn’t retrace our steps. I’d be living in a fool’s world to try. And it would be all about me competing, trying to succeed. All about me
             Both Chris and I needed to be strong enough mentally to confront the past. We needed to be resolute and emotionally, spiritually and physically healthy enough to approach the future without demanding to know its hidden secrets.
            With my ambivalence and trepidation, and Chris’s reluctance—actually, refusal—to discuss it, the mere consideration of attempting a third time to enlarge our family was shelved.       
            At that point in my life, I could only hope the shelving was temporary.


NEXT WEEK: Volatile emotions, deepening depression, and added grief...

Thanks for joining me.

Until next week!