So I’m listening to the radio in the car. The lady who called into the “Complicated Grief Show” started by saying it’s been 8 years since her cousin lost her daughter and that she still goes to visit her grave. The caller went on to say that when she visits her cousin who lost her daughter, she is always looking for ways to interject a story about her deceased child into the conversation.
Then she said, “It’s been so long now and it’s making me uncomfortable.” She truly did not understand why her cousin had to talk about her child eight years after she died.
I could feel the fury in my face as it heated up. Really? Her ugly, momma grief makes you uncomfortable? So I took a deep breath and listened to the psychiatrist’s answer. The doctor said that there were no worries if her cousin was able to participate in activities, laugh and otherwise engage in life.
I counted to ten. That’s it?
I was irritated the psychiatrist didn’t emphasize that it was OK to visit a cemetery for years, even decades after the death of a child. I wondered why she didn’t say it was normal to grieve the lost of a child till the day you die. Or that sometimes people talk about their child that died because they need to. Because if we did not, no one would ever mention their name.
Those of us who’ve lost a child, talk about all of our children, including the one who died, because they were a part of our lives! Just because a child dies, doesn’t mean we erased that loved one from our family tree.
And finally, I wanted the psychiatrist to say that the caller’s “discomfort” over her cousin’s mention of her child was nothing compared to enduring the death of a child.
But she didn’t.
Once I got past that knee-jerk reaction of wanting to scratch her eyes out for the “uncomfortable” comment, I realized the caller was either looking for answers and was concerned about her relative. Or she wanted validation of her discomfort, that she’s was right that all this had gone on too long and her cousin needed to “move on.”
What disappointed me the most, was that an opportunity to educate on grief was missed. An opportunity to teach this caller and all the other listeners that if she cared about her relative, which she expressed at the beginning of the call, she could show compassion to her cousin by listening and asking questions about her daughter.