What to say? People do not know what to say. Because Amanda died people are uneasy around me. Scared of saying the wrong thing. Scared of making it worse for me. Therefore, they end up not saying anything at all or very little. It’s hard to tell you exactly what to say. It’s easier to tell you what not to say. BUT, Please, Please read this until the end!!!
I don’t want to hear “you gotta get over it” – I feel better as time goes on, but let me be clear, the death of a child forever changes your life. I will never “get over it”. Her death is now a part of my personality; it is a description of me. I have been known over the years as Charnell’s wife, Josh’s Mom, and Amanda’s Mom. I am now known as Amanda’s Mom for a totally different reason- a tragic reason. My life is not over, my grief has gotten better, but I will never be “over it”. Do not say to me you are “over it”. Just slap me instead. It would be easier to take. You didn’t know her very well if you don’t have at least a small hole in your life. I have friends and family who think of her and miss her everyday. They don’t want to hear it either. If you believe someone who loved her is “over it”, well, you are just fooling yourself. There is no possible way you could have been to close to Amanda and be completely “over it” now. She was just that big of a person. She was just that much of a difference maker. This is number two on the list of “complaints” I get from other Mom’s. The “over it” stuff – causes anger.
I don’t want to hear “I know how you feel” UNLESS you have lost a child. Do not compare my loss to anything else. I am living without my precious daughter. The child I carried within my body, heard her first words, dressed her, watched her first steps, played with her, practiced ball with her, did homework with her, vacationed with her, watched her get married, watched her have children, shopped together, talked to, prayed with; raised her, loved her for 32 years 4 months and 2 days. This is the one thing said I get the most emails and notes regarding – it makes me want to scream. It makes other Moms want to scream also. It actually shuts us down.
Do not continue to quote Scripture to me. I know Scripture, I search Scripture continually. I rely on Scripture – God’s very Word to me – He gets me through. You are not going to give me some revelation to which I am going to say “Aha, I’m healed”. It makes me feel like you think I don’t know. Yes, I quote Scriptures here. Scriptures the Lord has revealed to me to share. But, when we talk and all you do is quote Scripture, I know without a doubt, you have no idea what I am going through. You don’t know what to say so you quote Scripture to get you through the conversation. It is not helpful. This does not mean for you not to send notes with Scriptures or text or whatever – this is when we are face to face and you say something like – Well, Scripture says “Good will come to those who love God”. Not helpful.
Do not talk about or ask questions about her death in front of children, especially her children and her nieces. Do not ask how the children are doing in front of them either. Don’t try to comfort the children on your own unless it is something positive. Then they come to me or go to someone else and try to get an understanding of what you have said. Children do not understand some of the things in Scripture the way we do. Telling a child their mother or aunt is dust is not helpful – it gives them nightmares. Amanda is not an Angel either, she’s a Saint.
Do not question others about how I am doing, if you want to know – ask me. Just understand, I will not answer with an “I’m doing great”. The answer is – it’s minute by minute some days, some days I cry, some days I’m fine. But, I’m never great. Not yet anyway. Oh, I’m happy some days – it’s just not great. I have great moments but overall I’m not great, not bad, but not great. I miss her. I miss her more than I can ever explain. Her death affects my whole life – my work, Church work, friendships, home life, and relationships with everything. Thing is no one really knows how I’m doing, sometimes I don’t know.
Do not tell me I have to “accept it” or “accept what’s happening” or “you can’t do anything about it”. (This is not in reference to her death ) No I do not have to accept it and yes, I can do something about it. I do not believe I should ever accept something that is wrong. I may not be able to change it physically but I do not have to accept it and I can do something. I have a relationship with a God who is more powerful than anything on this earth. I can go to Him with everything. Constant state of prayer – that’s the answer. His power is overwhelmingly more than anything I can imagine. Wrong does prevail for a while, but in the end, I know God is victorious. The scary thing is the price that is paid by others when you see the damage being done now. But, without a doubt – God will be victorious. I still have to have a Christ like attitude. I still have to love and be kind. But I do not have to accept it. I will never quit praying. I will never be fake either. Life is hard.
Okay, hopefully you have made it this far! I hope you do not feel bad. It’s hard to know what to say. I know because I have been on the other side, trying to comfort someone who has lost a loved one. I was also at a loss of words and have said some very wrong things. I didn’t know. You don’t know either.
The good things, the things to say and do.
Speak. When you see me, speak. Say hello. Don’t avoid me. Let me know you think or pray for me. Don’t lie though. I can see through it. Especially say I love you – if you do love me! Give me a hug – I have a friend who does this just about every time she sees me, it is so very uplifting. A hug of friendship and love. It’s a wonderful thing, I know she cares.
Invite. Invite me to dinner and plan it. I have a friend who invites me to dinner from time to time. I love it. She just text and ask me can I go to dinner tonight or tomorrow night. It’s not a one day we will thing. My life is day to day and she knows it. It is nice, she’s a friend who gets it. Although, sometimes I feel like I am a burden to her because she just listens to me go on and on about whatever. She understands, I need to talk. I need to talk about what’s happening now, what happened when she died and just in general talk about Amanda. I love talking about Amanda -stories of things Amanda did. I love hearing her talk about Amanda. “Little Cindy”! The most important thing about her – I know no matter what I say, she will not repeat it to someone else. I do not have to worry about it getting around the town.
Send. Send a card, letter, text, post on Facebook or email and let me know- you remember, you know. I received a letter from some dear friends after Amanda died. It was an actual hand-written letter. I still think of that letter and it uplifts me. How very sweet and loving. It meant so very much to me. I mean, who sits down and writes an actual letter these days. I also have a neighbor who leaves me little “I’m thinking about you” gifts. Brightens my day right up!
Tell. If you think of a story about her and have the time, let me know. I love talking about her. The children love hearing stories about her. They ask me to tell something about her just about every time we are together for any length of time. Or they tell me one they have heard. It helps to know you haven’t forgotten. Who knows, your story may be something we need to pass on to the children. If you come across a photo of her, send me a copy or post it on Facebook. Photo’s are comforting because they remind me of the times she was so very happy.
Call. Call me. I will probably never pick up the phone and call you. I don’t want to be a burden to you. I don’t want to depress you. Understand, sometimes, I can’t talk. But, most of the time I can.
Listen. Yes, I ramble. Yes, I have a hard time talking sometimes because I don’t want to cry in front of you. Yes, I have a hard time listening to you. Why?, because when given a opportunity to talk, I can’t stop myself. I work in solitude mostly, it’s just me and my husband at home (or we are with children) and at Church everyone is busy. So, if I get someone around and they are talking about something I have a tendency to talk and interrupt. I’m working on it. It’s harder than you think. And then of course, sometimes I don’t want to talk at all. It’s impossible to figure out. I know!
Pray. Let me know you are praying for the family. A simple “I’m praying for y’all” will suffice. Or even better, “I prayed for y’all this morning”. Pray for wisdom for us, most of all.
Understand. Understand sometimes I just can’t. I can’t attend a function. I can’t talk. I can’t stop crying. I’ve decided it is okay. Sometimes, I just have those moments. Sometimes I have to walk out of the room. Just be patient with me. I will be okay after a moment or two.
Love. Love me and let me know. It’s my favorite words in the world. I love you. Hug me and say I love you. I love you with a hug is my favorite comfort but only if it’s true.
Yes, I realize the list of do not’s are a lot longer than the list of do’s. There is a reason for it. There are not a lot of things you can do or say. I know. I understand. I know you don’t know! (how’s that for butchering the English language!) I understand it’s awkward for you, it’s awkward for me too. When I’m around, it’s okay to cry because you miss her too. I like knowing people still love her. Still miss her. I hurt for you too!!
This list comes from my experience and the experiences of Moms who have written me or talked to me. We are lonely. Yet, we do not have the energy or know-how to reach out to you. We do not know what to say or talk about either. Just reach out for us.
I hope you made it to the end. Love and prayers to all of you Moms out there going through A Parent’s Worst Nightmare. Don’t give up and don’t give in. You are not alone.
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Romans 12: 9&10 (ESV)