They Don’t Know What They Don’t Know

I remember the first couple times I ventured out in public after Dominic left us and the flurry of activity surrounding his funeral was over.

I felt naked, afraid and oh, so vulnerable.  

The tiniest misplaced word or random glance could undo me and I burst into tears.  

And I remember the phone calls, cards, texts and Facebook messages from friends and family who truly wanted to encourage my heart but often chose the wrong words and pierced it instead.

I took offense.  Often.

But about a month or so into this journey, as I explored the edges of my pain and had time to think about how utterly different and unknowable it was without experiencing it, I realized that all those barbs were completely unintentional.

No one was aiming to hurt me.  They were walking in the dark and stepping on my toes because they couldn’t SEE, not because they desired to cause me pain.

I was just as clueless before it was ME who buried a child.

So I learned to extend grace-to look behind the words to the heart offering them.

Because they don’t know what they don’t know.  

And I hope to God they never do.

dont expect everyone to understand

Author: Melanie

I am a shepherd, wife and mother of four amazing children, three that walk the earth with me and one who lives with Jesus. This is a record of my grief journey and a look into the life I didn't choose. If you are interested in joining a community of bereaved parents leaning on the promises of God in Christ, please like the public Facebook page, "Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child" and join the conversation.

9 thoughts on “They Don’t Know What They Don’t Know”

  1. I remember when my pain and shock was fresh and just how excruciating and infuriating some of the comments and reactions were for me. At the same time I’ll be the first to admit that before we lost Judge and I began this horrible journey I said similar unhelpful things to others in grief. Clumsy, unhelpful things. I wince when I recall them. I get it now. It seems that as a society we aren’t really good at just being with people in pain. We prefer to either avoid emotional pain or fix it and make it go away and I was as guilty of it as anyone. Not anymore.

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  2. I’m doing my best to extend grace, but like you said it is very hard some days. How do I extend grace when it’s a family member or a really close friend that acts like nothing has happened or that I should just get over it? If I avoid them or don’t respond then I am the one that’s being unfriendly. How do you bear the hurt of it? In searching for an answer I came across this version of the serenity prayer. Words that soothe the heart rather than hurt it. I will try to remember this.

    God, give me grace to accept with serenity
    the things that cannot be changed,
    Courage to change the things
    that can be changed
    and the Wisdom to distinguish
    the one from the other.
    Living one day at a time,
    Enjoying one moment at a time,
    Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
    Taking, as Jesus did,
    This world as it is,
    Not as I would have it,
    Trusting that You will make all things right,
    If I surrender to Your will,
    So that I may experience joy in this life,
    And with You forever in the next.
    Amen

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    1. It IS hard when it’s family or close friends. !!! I am so sorry. Personally, I think they often act like nothing happened because they have not assimilated our child’s death into their own paradigm. They can ignore it because it’s not unavoidable for them like it is for us. :(. ❤

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  3. After 14 months of living life without my son, I finally found a project that is energizing and exciting me. It’s at our church and has to do with preserving the sacramental, school and parish records of over 100 years. A church employee threw a wet blanket on it when I was expressing my enthusiasm. She knows what my journey has been and I was hurt that she couldn’t “see” what a milestone I had reached. I was hurt at first and now I know that her reaction isn’t personal towards me. I’m learning to detach with love from folks like her and forge ahead on this journey and keep my spirits lifted. Thank you for this post.

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    1. I confess-there are people that I see often whom I have learned to avoid if possible because they are so insistent on pushing for answers or responses I simply cannot give. Others have learned along with me, they have chosen to “take notes” and become more sensitive. And then there are those who are truly clueless-they are the ones I can most easily extend grace to now. It’s hard and some days I’m terrible at it. I come home and cry and rail agains their insensitivity. ❤

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