Loss, the Holidays, and the “Right” Thing to Say

I have written on this topic before and focused on phrases to avoid. But as I was having a conversation with an aunt during Thanksgiving about a dear friend of hers who had recently lost a grandchild, it prompted new thoughts and feelings. This will be that family’s first holidays since his passing and my aunt wanted to reach out and say “the right thing.” As humans, we worry about saying the right thing, and often we avoid sharing our feelings for fear of being wrong. We feel moved to share words as profound as the loss itself. Often times we get wrapped up in this need that we don’t truly speak what is on our mind or we fall back on the trite, pithy condolences, which can come across false and empty. The simplest of phrases can actually go a long way.

I am thinking of you during this difficult time. – Loss of any kind is isolating. We feel alone and devastated in our grief. Having someone make contact can often help heal some of the widest cracks. It says that you are with me in this dark time. And maybe opens doors to further communication.

I wish _______ were here. – There is nothing more profound than this statement, especially during the holidays when the focus is togetherness. Missing that person becomes especially sharp. Having someone tell you they are missing that person too helps carry that burden of grief.

I am here for you. – This phrase only works if you are willing to listen and not offer advice or those trite phrases I mentioned before. Or even better just sit and let that person cry and give them space.

Most of all – show up, reach out. Don’t skip saying something for fear of saying the wrong thing. Speak from your heart.

Currently

We did a walk this weekend for Lincoln. I raised almost $1,000 for stillbirth research in the hopes that this may save even one baby, one family from ever going through this. Completing this walk made me think about a lot of things. As I checked in, the volunteer asked if I was Lincoln’s mom. No one has ever asked me that before. It felt so good, I almost cried. I met up with 3 other moms who I have connected with on this journey. It always feels so bittersweet to be with people who get it. We talked about our babes as though they were with us. And there was no awkwardness or pity that can accompany those conversations. I also realized I haven’t written about Lincoln in a while. We became so occupied with trying to move forward. It’s not that I forgot about him or stopped thinking about him, because believe me, I think about him every day. It is still as though a piece of me were missing. And this is true because a part of me died when I heard those words. “There is no heart beat”. Someone told me the other day that there is a reason for everything. I used to believe that too. And maybe there is. But that reason will never be good enough for me. I have tried to become a voice for stillbirth families and infant loss sufferers, as well as for those who have battled through infertility but would I trade that for my beautiful 2 and a half year old? Hell yes I would. I ache to hold him and wonder what our sweet Linc would be doing. Would he be talking? Would he be potty trained? Would we be thinking about preschool soon? What would I be like as a mom? Would Lincoln have a sibling or would we have struggled to try again either way? I try to focus on the good things in my life, but one doesn’t cancel the other. Because they are my 2 sides. I can’t be who I am now without both good and bad. Since we came to the end of our infertility journey and have started to focus on other ways to be parents, I am trying to understand this new me. I am trying to find purpose if we end up without living children. This is a hard vision for me. I know that if it is our route, I will mourn that dream for the rest of my life. But as I said to my mom the other day, if all I get out of life is Kyle, then I am a damn lucky woman. I can’t tell you all how much we have always appreciated your support as we have navigated each new challenge and there may be more to come. But I do hope that we can count on you all to support us, whatever decisions we make.