By Michelle Villalobos
I’m scrolling mindlessly through my Facebook feed, not really taking anything in, until I see it. A status from a mom complaining about how their kid hardly slept at all last night, or how their kid just threw a fit in the middle of the grocery store, or how they just need a break or any number of other petty little things. Rage. I can’t help it. My blood boils, my eyes tear up. I would give anything, ANYTHING, to be able to write that same status about my beloved child. But I can’t. Because my child died and how dare they take one single second for granted with their living breathing child.
This situation has played out for me so many times, admittedly, more infrequently as time goes on, but sometimes, the pain still creeps in.
It’s very easy to be angry at others after you suffer loss. The parents who live blissfully unaware of the heartache that we carry every single day. The people who make unintentionally backhanded remarks, the people who give unsolicited advice, when really, they don’t know how it feels to be in these shoes.
In the beginning days of my grief I lashed out more than once. How could I not? I was so angry. My daughter died. My daughter died. Looking back, I wasn’t angry at them, I was just angry, and I was taking it out on them, my emotions looking for a target.
Now, as a grieving parent, I think it is so easy for us to be awfully hard on those “other” parents. I’m not placing blame or saying we are wrong to be upset. Of course it is upsetting to see someone taking their children for granted. But is that really what they are doing? I don’t think it is. I think it’s a value of all stress being valid and real to the person experiencing it. My stress may be different than yours, but it doesn’t negate the value of your stress or heartache. Next to burying one of my children, raising my other two is the hardest thing I have ever done. Everyday is a struggle. It was hard before I knew how easily all of it could crumble. Being a parent is HARD.
Instead of automatically being angry at the complaints and grumbles of non-grieving parents, I’m learning to try to give them just a little bit of grace. Just a titch. They love their children just the same as we love ours.
When my daughter died, it was her big sister that kept me going. I vowed right then and there that I would never lose my temper or want a break from her ever again. That didn’t last long. But we all know how that turned out. Of course I need breaks, I’m only human. Of course I lose my temper, maybe even more so now. And that’s okay. It’s okay to be excited to send your kid off to school. It’s okay to feel like if you don’t get a shower RIGHT THIS SECOND you might just rip every strand of hair out of your head. It is okay to not love every second of everyday with your child. It is okay to complain about the seemingly trivial things. It is okay.
It’s okay. There’s no guilt, and there’s no shame. It’s okay for things that would never have stressed you before to stress you now. It’s okay for others to feel stressed about the hardest things they face, even if their “hardest” is different than yours. It’s okay for you to be a little angry sometimes and to need to take a break. It’s okay for you to also give grace. It’s okay for you to get to a point where it no longer bothers you. It’s also okay for you to accept that some people will never understand, and you know what? That’s okay that they won’t, too.
If you’ve lost a child, you’ve been through one of the hardest human experiences known to man. It’s not “normal”, so not everyone will ever understand. And that’s okay, too, because for them to understand, they would have to know our pain.
Find a safe place, a group, a person you can trust, and vent it to them when you need an outlet. Then take a deep breath, realize that you’re doing just fine, and that while some people may never understand, that’s okay. And it’s okay to give them grace sometimes, too. At least, that’s what I’m learning.
Michelle Villalobos is a wife and mother to three lovely children, two here with her and one in the stars. She’s a believer in coffee, cookies, and leggings as pants. She has put herself back together through the worst loss and come out the other side alive/living/still breathing.
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