Sunday, April 1, 2012

Safety in numbers?

I have met some great people in online support groups (Julia, Katie, Abby, etc.). I get support from a certain site that I don't get in the offline world. However, there can even be friction in the online support groups. I imagine that it exists in the offline support groups, too, but I wouldn't know about that. 

You would think that if you got a bunch of people together who had experienced something similar we would all get along. Not so much...There isn't always safety in numbers. The thing to remember is that at the end of the day, tragedy or not, we're all still people. Some you like and some you don't. 

So today in one of the groups we had the following exchange. (It's public so I don't think I'm giving anything away here...)

Moderator: Outsiders don't look at the death of an infant in quite the same way as they do older children. Either consciously or subconsciously, they don't feel that the loss should be as great, or the grief as long, because you did not know the child as long as you would an older child.

Now, you know how absurd this is, but try to understand; that is the reason for their lack of empathy.(I actually had someone say to me after I lost my son( "At least he wasnt 3 like my daughter...that would hurt even MORE"). They may not understand your intense grief, or not know what to say. In their efforts to comfort you, they may say something incredibly stupid or hurtful.

Has this happened to most of us? Yes, it has. I can't even count on both hands the number of times people have said to me, "At least he was JUST a baby..." Not to mention other crazy things that they have said. 

In the beginning, back on my other blog, someone commented about Pete's mom dying right after Toby and how his dad had flown over for the funeral a week before she died (knowing she was sick). The comment stated that they didn't know if they could have done that, knowing that their spouse was dying. Frankly, I couldn't imagine NOT doing that. Two months or twenty, if my child needs me then I am going. I am trying to imagine a scenario in which Sam is married and living in another country without much of a support system and loses his child and I don't go to him. I can't see it. I can't see Pete NOT wanting me to go. 

I felt like that was another jab at Toby "only" being a baby and therefore not important. Maybe it wasn't intended to be that way but that's the way it felt. Well, why should Pete have support? Toby was only a baby. Later, it became we shouldnt be sad, we shouldn't be depressed, we shouldn't be angry...

Getting in the support groups and hearing that other parents had heard the same things helped me. It made me feel less alone. So when she posted that status, I felt like, yeah, right on. 

Of course, someone disagreed. Here was the comment...

Comment: This is a load of crap sorry, not everyone thinks that way, so don't judge everyone by one persons comment! Yes it would hurt all the same, it your child you've lost, whether he/shes a baby or a child, its still your child. Sorry but this status had really annoyed me!!

When asked how old her child was when he/she passed away, of course this person did not have an answer because they had never lost a child. When asked how old her child was at its death, she wrote:

Comment: My child hasn't past, but my nephew did to sids in september, so from an outsiders point of view. I'm free to my opinion x

I was happy with the moderator who gave the following reply:

Moderator: .did I say "EVERYONE" in this status? Im sorry I cant come up with something EVERY SINGLE DAY that pleases everyone, that avoids so many different areas not to offend anyone. I am not a professional I am simply a mother who lost her son to S.I.D.S, who comes here to start conversations for those of us who are dealing with the loss of a child. Obviously from the commments and my own these things HAVE been said to some of us. Please dont take my posts as anything more than an opinion from my own experiences.

Naturally, I had to give my two cents worth regarding the situation. And here it is...

Me: your comment has offended ME. I got comments like the one described in the status from many people. And you know what? I thought I was the only one who did. So when Carolyn posts things like these and people comment it makes me feel less alone. I would think that as an "outsider" you would appreciate the fact that for some of us, we ONLY have each other to vent to and seek understanding from

So, sometimes you find support from the those who have experinced similar losses. And sometimes you find more drama. You just have to know which ones matter and which ones don't. 


Maxie's Mommy said...

Let me guess.....

Rebecca said...

You know, I actually did a search, thinking that this might have been the same person but it's not. Which is even scarier.

Katie (LukeGrantsMom) said...

I really like your response, as well as the moderator's response. I am not sure where I would be at without "meeting" people like you.