There are so many ways child loss impacts relationships!
Some of the people you think will stand beside you for the long haul either never show up or disappear right after the funeral.
Some people you never expected to hang around not only come running but choose to stay.
And every. single. relationship. gets more complicated.
When your heart is shattered, there are lots of sharp edges that end up cutting you and everyone around you. It’s pretty much inevitable that one or more relationships will need mending at some point.
I know I said (still say!) things that wound others. Most of the time it’s because I’m distracted or hurting myself and my mouth begins speaking before my brain is fully engaged. Sometimes, though, it’s because I’m in pain and (frankly!) I want to transfer some of that pain to someone else.
Misery DOES love company!
Often other people in my life will say or do things that wound me. Some of the folks are part of my inner grief circle and I know that it’s unintentional or they are having a pain-filled day like I am.
A few are extended family members who are either blissfully unaware of the ongoing pain and drama of child loss or are too caught up in their own lives to give it a thought.
Some of them are friends who think by now I should have toughened up and are no longer willing to extend extra grace and try harder to be tender.
Sometimes it’s acquaintances or strangers who don’t have a clue.
Whenever someone pierces my armor and inflicts pain, I have a choice: Do I suck it up and take it or do I say something and try to reconcile?
There are days when I feel strong enough to just overlook it. But I know if it represents a pattern, sooner or later the pressure will build and I’m going to blow. And that’s not good for either one of us.
There are days when I absolutely, positively have to address it. That’s when I need to be careful of overloading another heart with too much information (TMI). See, it’s easy to make one person the target for all my strong feelings. It’s easy to do an emotional and informational “dump” on whoever happens to be handy or whoever is the least intimidating.
That’s unfair and unhelpful-for them and for me.
So when I decide to open my mouth and address a specific situation with a specific person, I need to keep my margins clean and only say the things that pertain to THAT instance. I can’t bring up every single thing the person has done in the past or things that they haven’t said or done but which have made me more sensitive to certain words or actions. I don’t need to burden them with all the details of MY bad day or week or month.
Instead I should talk about my own feelings in relationship to them and their actions or words.
“I feel like _________when you say________” gives vent to my emotion without accusing another heart. I need to leave room for them to share what they were/are thinking and feeling too. It can’t be one-way conversation if I hope to have a two-way relationship.
Any stressful life circumstance makes us all more vulnerable to offense. And child loss is certainly stressful. It’s stressful in ways others can’t see or comprehend. It alters the way a parent sees and experiences the world.
It makes everything harder.
I want to be full of love, grace and mercy, not overrun with bitterness, anger and offense.
So I have to be mindful of what I say, how much I say and when I choose to say it.