If I got ten grieving parents in a room we could write down fifty things we wish people would stop saying in about five minutes.
Most of the time folks do it out of ignorance or in a desperate attempt to sound compassionate or to change the subject (death is very uncomfortable) or simply because they can’t just shut their mouths and offer silent companionship.
And most of the time, I and other bereaved parents just smile and nod and add one more encounter to a long list of unhelpful moments when we have to be the bigger person and take the blow without wincing.
But there is one common phrase that I think needs attention and here is why: It simultaneously dismisses my current reality and assumes knowledge that you simply do not have.
“He wouldn’t want you to be sad.”
Really? How do you know? Did you live with my son for nearly 24 years? Were you his confidante? His nursemaid in illness? His champion in victory?
My tears are as much an expression of the love I STILL have for my son this side of death as the hugs and kisses I gave him since he was a baby were on the other side.
My heart holds him now as surely as my arms held him then.
This is what I have left-tears that bear witness to that love.
You can’t bury love.
Love is forever.
Dominic would totally understand.