Earlier this week we had a massive storm. The wind howled and blew torrential rain in every direction. Nothing outside stayed dry. The rain and thunder combined were amazingly loud and blinding lightning strikes shot continuously across the night sky resulting in very intense energy.
The storm lasted for much longer than the average summer downpour, and then, just like that, it was done. The night returned to calm darkness and it was quiet again as if nothing had ever happened.
For someone out in the storm they would have been soaked within seconds, blown about like a tiny leaf, and probably feeling quite unnerved. For someone watching from inside the (dry) comfort of their home, they might have sympathised briefly and then moved on to think of something else.
Both of these people saw the same storm but had very different experiences. Just because the inside person didn’t get wet or windblown, doesn’t negate or lessen the experience of the outside person.
You may read this and think ‘well obviously!’ yet this is exactly what happens every single day to all of us. We navigate relationships (romantic, personal, and professional) where one person might feel a certain way and they are invalidated and their experience negated because the other doesn’t feel the same.
Some days or weeks later the inside person might not even remember the storm and if they happened to come across the outside person still rattled, they might think ‘surely they ‘should’ be over that by now!’
When we experience loss we share a lot of the same emotions and reactions yet ultimately our experience is different. I cannot truly know what another bereaved mum is experiencing despite us both losing a child.
A mum shared a story with me after she went to visit her daughter’s grave who died suddenly ten years ago this week. Not far from where Sammy is buried is the grave of two boys who passed 12 years ago. One day, the two mothers happened to meet. The mother of the boys mentioned it had already been ten years for her and that my friend would be over it when she hit her ten year mark.
My friend messaged me in tears after her visit thinking about the other woman’s comment and adamant she didn’t feel anywhere near over it. I cringed that another bereaved mum would say something like that, especially at a gravesite. Despite both losing children, their experience of death and grief was quite different.
We are a week into the new year and for many mums, I know it is a daunting time. January 1st marks the beginning of a new year but for many the beginning of their first calendar twelve months without their child. The tick of the clock at midnight moves us into a new chapter in our lives and there can be a sense of leaving our children behind in another time, which can be confronting and heartbreaking.
So, some considerations you may want to take with you as you move through January and subsequent months. I know I will be.
- It is not for you to decide (or suggest) how someone else should or should not feel. Their feelings are THEIR feelings and they are entitled to them.
- It is not for you to express an opinion (without being asked) on how someone chooses to live their life. It’s actually none of your business.
- It is not for you to try and change someone, regardless (especially) if you think your way is better for them. It is THEIR journey.
Your job is to show compassion and listen without judgement, should you be lucky enough that someone chooses to share their ‘stuff’ or part of their life with you.
I lay there listening to the silence after the storm and thought about how many things in life we have absolutely no control over – like the weather or death … and how many things we do.
Dalya xx 💙