An old friend called me the other day to tell me she’d read my blog and that she realised, she didn’t really know me at all.
I’ve been thinking about that this weekend.
How well do we ever truly know another person?
For me, I’m finding it an interesting question. Since Elijah died, my world has literally been turned upside down. It’s affected my relationships with every single person I know. Some have got better and some have got worse. Some people I thought I knew or could rely on, have sometimes not been there. Some people who said they would be there, haven’t been. Some people have made themselves absent from my life since he died. Others, have taken me by suprise with their constant support, consideration and love.
It’s a very confusing time.
It seems I’m not alone in feeling this way.
I’m a member of a support group for bereaved parents and many have tales of good friends who have let them down after their loss. In one quite incredible story, friends of a bereaved mother passed around their baby photos at the funeral. It’s astonishing that they could be so ignorant and insensitive.
Many people simply don’t know how to be around a friend who has suffered the loss of a child.
They find it awkward.
I knew this could happen, so I’ve brokered a deal with my best friends. I’ve told them to talk about anything and everything that comes into their heads, ask me questions and give me their opinions. If it upsets me, I’ll tell them. No game playing and no second guessing. So far, it’s working. One of my best friends told me recently to stop messing around. “Stop saying you don’t know if another baby is a good idea” she said “because you know you want one”. She’s right. Of course I do. Despite everything, I want lots more babies and I want them all right now. RIGHT NOW.
See, sometimes, your best friends know you better than you know yourself.
Of course, my relationship with my husband has been affected by what happened to Elijah. We are both grieving. It’s sometimes hard to do that together. It’s sometimes the only thing we can do, to cling together in despair. He is the person I know best and who knows me best. Sometimes he still suprises me though, like yesterday, with his story about the time he met the band Altern-8 and they copied his idea for the gas masks or everytime he throws a tantrum when I beat him at Scrabble.
Above all else, what we went through on that day has made me look at him with new eyes. I can’t believe how much I love him and how incredibly strong and amazing he is. He was a super-hero on that day. Never leaving my side. Even though he watched his wife screaming in pain and his son born dead, he never faltered. He didn’t run away before the horror of it all. He held my hand every single second and the one thing I do remember from that operating theatre, is him saying, over and over and over again
So, to anyone who is scared to talk to me, or to any of you with a bereaved parent for a friend, my advice is simple. Take a leaf from my husbands book. You don’t need grand gestures, sometimes all you need to say is