As I approach the seven month anniversary since the loss of my son, I feel so much gratitude for the friends in my life. The friends who have helped me to get this far in this journey will never know how much it has meant to me. They have taught me how to be a better friend.
I kinda feel like I am inside of a bubble. The wall of the bubble is invisible but I feel like it is insulating. It feels safe in here. Have you ever seen one of those inflatable Sumo Wrestler costumes at Halloween? My kids had one when they were little and I put it on once. That’s what it feels like. No one can see my bubble but I think they can feel it. Some people don’t know how, or if they even should try, to get inside this bubble. But for goodness sake, don’t be scared of my bubble. It is safe, cozy, gentle, and as big as I need my world to be right now. My bubble is a happy place, not a sad place.
Before my loss, I didn’t know how to respond to acquaintances who had experienced child loss. Should I approach or not? Would they prefer to only have their closest friends near or were they open to me offering friendship? In my ignorance, I generally only offered my deepest sympathy and left them alone. Now that I have experienced a loss of my own, I can tell you that it can be a little lonely inside the bubble. Feel free to reach out.
Something that I have observed is that some of my friends may not have the life experience to get inside my bubble with me. They may feel uncomfortable. Equally surprising are the new people who have come into my life, climbed inside that bubble with me, and just rested with me there. I am so grateful for these friendships. The thing that I have noticed that these people have in common is their peacefulness. They got inside the bubble with me and just let me be me. Neither of us wants the other to do anything. We can talk, laugh, shop, have lunch, and just be in the moment. These are the some things that I want my friends to know:
1) I do not want you to feel awkward sharing all of the awesome things that your kids are doing. I love hearing about your kids’ milestones. I think it is great that your kids are graduating, getting married, having children, buying their first house. I love to brag about all of my kids, too. So share away.
2) I want you to not feel awkward complaining about ordinary day-to- day problems and frustrations in your life. Motherhood is hard. Life, in general, can be hard. I will not think that you are whining. I am not comparing your problems with my own. If you tell me that life is hard for you right now, I believe you. Please tell me about it. Maybe I have gone through something similar and I can tell you what not to do. I have made plenty of mistakes in motherhood and I can maybe save you some time. I’m no expert but I can certainly listen and sympathize.
3) I want you to just act normal. I am adjusting to my new normal so it is important to me that you be normal. I need steadiness and routine in my life. I knew you before the loss, so I already have formed an opinion of whether I enjoy your company. Assume that if I am in your presence that I like you and all that comes with you.
4) I want you to accept me as I am now. I would like for you to respect me for the life stage I am in right now. Accept that my days are ranked okay, good, better, best. I know that some days you are happy, sad, overwhelmed, frustrated, introspective, too. Just like me. Please let me say my child’s name without you being afraid that I will start crying. I won’t. I save all of my big, heavy stuff for the therapist. If I mention his name it will be to share something, not unload something. I am not that fragile; I am acting normal for my circumstance.
In return, I will try my best to be the friend that you need as well. None of us will get through this life without some heartbreak. Right now I am in that season, but I am moving forward with your help. I feel that this is an opportunity for our friendship to deepen and have substance. This is the stuff that real friendship is made of.
Peace and Love.
Have you experienced a hard season of life? What did you value most in your friendships?
Side note: The cardinal just landed in my window and is pecking at it and looking in. I haven’t seen that bird in over a week since the last time I wrote a post. I hope y’all are not sick of my cardinal. It is just so odd how it has only done this six times in six months and every time has been when I have been in deep thought about Will.
She writes about life, death, grief, and recovery.