First, there’s the perspective a grieving parent has from losing a child. I’ve learned to take my worries and my stresses in life with a grain of salt. Kind of like the mentality, “Hey, I’ve survived losing my son, there’s not much else in the world that I can’t survive.”
Then, there’s the perspective that you get in understanding where someone on the other side of the fence is coming from. A couple months ago, I wrote about a co-worker who struggled with saying the word “memorial” to me. I didn’t understand it, and it definitely caught me off guard. Just last week, this very co-worker comes into my office and begins to give me [sort of] an unsolicited explanation. She told me how, as a mother herself, she couldn’t even fathom what I’d been through and that there were no words. None of the “Hallmark” responses felt appropriate. It was just easier for her to not talk about it than to say something wildly inappropriate.
I guess, in a way, I could totally see where she was coming from. I mean, as grieving parents, it’s easy to get upset if someone says the wrong thing to you and it’s just as easy to get upset if someone says nothing to you. For “outsiders”, it’s a tough balance to maintain. And even beyond that, each grieving parent experiences so differently that what works for me might not work for another set of parents or another grieving mother. The thoughts and statements and gestures that have helped me along the way may be offensive or received differently by someone else.
Even as someone who’s been through this tragedy, I may possess a certain level of empathy but I still wouldn’t know the perfect thing to say every single time, in every single situation. And perhaps there just isn’t a perfect thing to say, perhaps there are not a definitive set of guidelines that work across the board. It’s a fine line we walk everyday, just as I’m sure it’s a fine line for non-grievers to walk alongside us.
I just want to thank those of you who’ve continued to walk with us regardless. Whether you’ve said the wrong thing(s), the “perfect” thing(s), or have said nothing at all, I’m still blessed that you’re in my life and that you have let Dylan be a part of yours.