Grief shaming. Why is she still talking about her child who died?

When someone loses a child, they don’t erase her from the family tree

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 looking for answers and was concerned about her relative. She wanted clarification on the difference between grief and complicated grief because she honestly didn’t know.

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.

7 things we need our ‘ungrieving’ friends to know

Author: Anne Moss Rogers

I am the owner of emotionally naked, a site that reached a quarter million people in its first 18 months. I am President of Beacon Tree Foundation, advocates for youth mental health as well as a writer and public speaker on the topics of suicide, addiction, mental illness, and grief. I lost my youngest son, Charles, 20, to suicide June 5, 2015. I was a marketing professional for years prior to losing my son and co-owned a digital marketing firm.

16 thoughts on “Grief shaming. Why is she still talking about her child who died?”

  1. It’s a brutal fact that unless you have walked the walk, you just don’t get it. Thank you everyone, especially Anne for helping us with our “new normal”. Personally, I don’t give a dam what others think when I talk about Curt. He still is my baby boy.

  2. When I was going through applying for Social Security Disability for an injury, they sent me to see some psychiatrist. When I went they ask me about things I did now that I could no longer work and I told them I had a laptop I could use when I laid down.

    I told them I was involved with groups of parents that lost their children and it was so nice to be able to openly talk to these people that we all help each other. I also told them on my sons birthday we would go to his grave and decorate it. When I saw his report I was furious, he said that my grief was what keep me from getting better and I needed help. So he was saying my back problems were all caused from me talking about my son and it was really bad that we did that on his birthday. Nothing about the fact I had severe physical problems which I had plenty of evidence it was physical. If I could have got a hold of that man I would have done who knows what, but it wouldn’t be nice. The majority of these professionals think we are sick for talk about our child. I have heard this now from several different ones. I will never stop talking about my son and they can say what they want to about me I don’t care. It made me so angry that at that moment I wanted this to happen to them, then I thought about what I was thinking and it was a horrible thought to have besides I wouldn’t wish this on anyone else. These people need to be taught about this from someone who is living it then maybe just maybe they would understand. I know a few people that went for help and it did more damage to them because of the way they were treated.

    1. Oh my gosh that is horrible. I have had some experiences and I know people talk about me behind my back but I don’t care either. They say, “She is still talking about all of that! When do you think she’ll get over it?” Please share the post! It helps to educate

  3. Sort of unrelated Anne Moss, but I am wondering if you still have a group/groups of friends that still talk about nothing but their kids when they are together. I just quietly sit and listen. There’s no fun in that at all for me. I’d rather not be around them in a group anymore.

    1. My friends don’t really do that any more. Not much. We did a bit at our New Year’s hike. I noticed that connie didn’t participate much. Her son struggles a lot. But I can’t say we spend a lot of time on that. We mostly talk about stuff we want to do!

  4. I don’t think there are or should be any rules when it comes to grieving. I think you are exactly right , Amy. She was looking for someone to say that it’s ok for her to feel “uncomfortable”. Thank you, Anne Moss for all that you do to keep these discussions going. I think of you daily! Prayers and hugs my friend! ❤️

  5. Yeah, you’re being kind. I’m not sure that caller was concerned. I didn’t hear the show but my gut instinct as a former hospice social worker who did bereavement counseling as part of my job is that she wanted validation of her discomfort, that she’s “right” and her cousin should move on. It never ceases to amaze me how little people understand the grieving process. It was hard enough for hospice families when the death was expected. Grief is so much more complicated and intense in traumatic losses. Keep screaming, Anne Moss. The world needs to hear… ❤️

    1. I got that feeling Amy. “She wanted validation of her discomfort, that she’s “right” and her cousin should move on.” You so nailed it. You did. That’s exactly it! Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

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