Today I’m a guest blogger over at All Groan Up, a forum dedicated to navigating life in the twenty-somethings, hosted by my college friend Paul Angone.
I thought about how many of us experience our first severe encounter with grief in our 20s, and decided to give some advice especially for friends who are walking with someone in that season.
Thanks to Allie and Becca, who each went through different losses than I did, for reviewing the piece and helping make sure it had something to say beyond just pregnancy loss. Love you ladies.
Please pop over there to read the piece.
As a bonus for stopping over here, here’s a little section from the cutting room floor. As we edited, Becca wrote back with this thought:
I know the post is about what to do, so you may not want to include anything about what not to do. But I also find that sometimes it is the people who mess up and say the wrong things or aren’t as sensitive as they should be that hurt the most. But at the same time, the people that did that were never exactly those that I was close to, so maybe not relevant. I don’t know, what do you think?
I think I have “a don’t list,” which we still chose to leave out of the main piece, for word-count reasons. Also, because it’s a little snarky.
Also, people who do things off the “don’t list” probably have their hearts in the right place and think they’re being helpful, but good intentions don’t always lead to right actions and can cause harm.
But here’s the thing. The hurt person will rarely, if ever, say how much that comment hurt. But it did.
Both Becca and Allie have shared the comments they’ve received in these three categories from people who just weren’t aware enough to stop themselves.
Here’s the other thing. If you’re worried about saying the wrong thing, you have pretty much eliminated any risk that you will. Just your sensitivity and care alone covers over a multitude of clumsiness. When you reach out in love, it shows, and that authenticity pretty much ensures that you can do no wrong.
Ok, that said…
The Don’t List
There’s also a ‘what not to do’ side to all of this. My anecdotal evidence tells me that usually this comes from people who don’t know you very well, not real friends. But for good measure, if there is any chance you will:
• be patronizing. As in “I heard about your little miscarriage dear…”
• make it about you. As in “Hearing what happened just reminded me so much
of the time I had to go to the hospital while pregnant. So scary.” Did your baby
live? Not the same then.
• suggest something lame to make me feel better. As in “Well, you can have a
margarita now!” Really? Being able to drink again is not an upside to losing my
Don’t. Just say, “I’m so sorry.” And I will say “thank you.” And I’ll mean it.
To the countless people who have shown us so much love these past three months, whose hearts broke with us whether they told us so or not: Thank you. You are wonderful. Just wonderful.