To shrine or not to shrine?

Relatives and friends of those who have lost a child have asked me about whether someone should or should not have a shrine in memory of their child who died.

Some have told me their daughter-in-law, for example, has created a memorial in their home and that it makes them “uncomfortable.”

I say if it helps you cope with a loss this insurmountable, have that memorial shelf or shrine. Don’t let anyone grief shame you out of it. It’s your home and if it makes someone else uncomfortable, that is not your problem. It’s theirs.

I don’t give a rat’s ass if it makes someone else uncomfortable. They didn’t lose a child did they? And they have no idea what they’d do if they did or how it feels.

If you are moved to do so, you can have a conversation about it and simply say that it helps you heal and you want your child remembered. Who can argue with that?

You don’t have to lapse into apologizing or defending yourself. Simply make the one statement and invite questions if you wish. Sometimes people who have not been through this will want to know more because it’s a human emotion they really cannot fully grasp. Being intentional with explanations helps others understand grief. Sometimes the questions sound so unbelievable to those of us who’ve lost a child. But we weren’t always on this side and we were not always in the know. We have to place ourselves back in those shoes again and remember that we were once blissfully ignorant of this level of grief, too.

Don’t ever let anyone shame you out of talking about your child because they “don’t approve” of how he died or it makes them uncomfortable. This journey is pure hell which gives you license to do what you want to remember your child and find emotional healing without judgement from outsiders who have no earthly idea what it’s like to stand in your shoes day after day, aching for the one you love so much it crushes your heart.

Remember when I was on the other side?

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.

7 thoughts on “To shrine or not to shrine?”

  1. Way to go Anne Moss. Sometimes it takes awhile for those of us new in our grief to come to this point but I’m sure we do in our own time.

  2. Amen sista!!!..we all heal differently and at different paces…but conversly you dont ever want to get stuck and not move forward in your grieving process…you are putting a voice and face to this disease of addiction and suicide!

  3. “we were once blissfully ignorant of this level of grief, too.”
    “find emotional healing without judgement from outsiders who have no earthly idea what it’s like to stand in your shoes day after day aching for the one you love so much it crushes your heart.”
    amazingly beautiful statements…and so accurate.

  4. Mom used to say it was futile to try to figure out why people do the things they do, but I’m blown away by the insensitivity here. Why add to their burden? Put your own feelings aside and think about what the family who lost a beloved member is trying to cope with. Think before opening your mouth.

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