Monday, May 21, 2012

Finding support in unusual places

Most of the time, it feels like people just don't "get it." And why should they, really? I mean, I may have lost a child but I don't understand the pain that someone who lost a spouse might feel. (Although I think that losing a child might give me a certain amount of empathy and I have always been able to sympathize.)

Sometimes, though, I find that support comes from the strangest of places.

Recently, I was getting my hair done and my hairdresser started talking to me about Toby. He told me that his aunt had lose a baby to SIDS 40 years ago. We talked about this at length and he totally "got" it. There was no need to explain myself, apologize for not being the same person, or even really say anything at all. He told me that his aunt had never really "moved on" and that, lo and behold, nobody expected her to. His family just took it for granted that she would always be grieving and she would always be a little sad. Interestingly, though, was the fact that she said that in her mind her son continued to age. She saw his first day of school, his high school dances, his graduation, his marriage, her grandkids...all of those "memories" played out in her mind as though they actually happened. That's how she dealt with her grief.

My hairdresser, who has no children of his own, did not think this was strange. I was glad.

In another instance, we were at a small country restaurant and an elderly woman sat behind us, eating alone. Thanks to the cuteness of our children, we often find ourselves in conversations with random strangers. This woman and I got to talking and I eventually told her about Toby. (I mentioned in a previous entry that I don't shy away from discussing him and what happened.)

Like most people, I expected her to say something along the lines of a religious platitude or, worse, an accusation. Instead, she shook her head and said, "With SIDS, there is nothing you can do. That's just something they haven't been able to find a reason for yet."

Yes! Thank you.

There is a woman whom I only met one time and at that time it was just for a few hours at a one day writing retreat. I don't know this woman and we only talked briefly. However, when Toby died she attended his funeral and then wrote me a beautiful letter afterwards. She has continued to send me random letters and emails over the course of the past year, somehow always knowing the right thing to say.

I don't expect to find this support when I am out and about, but it's always a welcomed thing when I do. It takes me by surprise and I am thankful for it. 


Susan said...

I think this is the point about having to kiss a lot of frogs to find a Prince.

My take is that some people are just more caring, sensitive and empathetic than others. If you keep putting yourself and your story out there, then you will find a few Princes. I suppose the reason that people don't, is they get a lot of heartless comments too.

I'm glad you got some comfort x

Groves said...

You really do write some incredibly insightful things.

Reading one of your posts feels like opening a window.

Thank you for helping me see.

xo Cathy in Missouri

P.S. I love kind people who don't expect grief to be "over." Why are there so few?

Maxie's Mommy said...

Some of my greatest support has come from people I never would have expected it from: a family friend I've always liked but never been close to, the girl who was my best friend in elementary school, a colleague of my fathers (who also lost a child), a friend I haven't seen since we studied abroad together fifteen years ago, and strangers who only know me from my blog. Thank god for these people.

Rebecca said...

@Susan- It is nice to find comfort in unexpected places. I just don't expect it anymore so when it happens it's like a little present.

@Groves- Thank you! And I don't know why finding these people can be so hard. I used to think it was because they hadn't experienced a loss themselves. Yet, I've met people who have lost parents/children/spouses and they're not always the most compassionate people either. (Like my in-laws.) I think, like Susan said, some are and some just aren't. I wish there were more out there.

@Abby-Yes, thank goodness for these folks. They have no idea how valuable they are.

Nan & Mike said...

Hi Rebecca, Im Nan. I am so sorry you lost your sweet baby to SIDS. My heart breaks for you. It is a 'good' feeling to find people who get it in person even if they are strangers, I found someone at jury duty of all places, she just happened to sit beside me and we wound up buddies. Anyway, I will follow your story and be of as much support as I can as you walk this rough road. Glad to "meet" you. Hugs, Nan