Monday, 5 October 2015

Capture Your Grief: Day 5, Empathy.

The Tessellated Pavement in Tasmania
is a pretty good representation of how my heart feels.

The prompt for today says:
So often in this community of bereaved parents we speak about all the things that friends and family should not say to us. There are countless articles about things never to say to a bereaved parent but not as many on actual things to say to a bereaved parent. If we want to break the silence surrounding baby and child loss we need to communicate our needs of what people can do and say to help. We must educate society on what real empathy is. What does empathy look like for you. What do you wish people would have said to you? How could they have helped you better?
I have done this myself. One of the last posts I wrote before starting Capture your Grief was on exactly this topic.

I think the reason that there are so many articles like this is precisely because pregnancy and baby loss is such a taboo subject in much of our society. People don't want to talk about it, so when the need does arise, they have no idea what to say. The grieving parent is so aware of the awkwardness of other people, yet we are the ones who are told to make accommodations for the words and behaviour of others, that just seems so backwards to me.

What do I wish people had said?
I'm so sorry.
I'm here if you need to talk, and I'll talk to you again soon.

What do I wish people had done?
Just be around me, even when I didn't much feel like talking.
Actually be there for me if you say you will be, and don't always put the onus on to me to reach out.
Talk to me about the mundane, everyday parts of life and what YOU are doing.
Not make my loss about them, why I didn't tell them or why I hadn't told them sooner.
Not avoid me, especially if they are pregnant themselves.

I actually read an article recently that confirmed on of my worst fears about being 'that friend'. I have written before about feeling like a friend had been avoiding me, then finding out she was expecting and hadn't wanted to upset me. That I can understand, and she hadn't waited too long, I was just super sensitive about why she had stopped talking to me so much. However, this article, written by a woman who was expecting, said she actually DID avoid friends who had lost children because she sisn't want their bad luck to somehow rub off on her.

So the biggest way you can show empathy? Don't make someone feel like they are 'contagious' in their grief.

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