Understanding is not required to be supportive to someone. You do not need to understand what someone is going through to continue to provide support. Society is missing this key point. I'm trying to figure out where people are coming from when things are said to the bereaved. I honestly want to know, so please comment below if you can give some insight.
Many times bereaved parents are subject to harsh statements. I'm sure the messenger doesn't intend for them to be harsh, but they are. things like "everything happens for a reason", "at least you have....", "be happy about....", "be thankful for....", "think of everyone else suffering far worse travesties than you", etc. My favourite, "choose to be happy". If you follow this blog, you know how I feel about this statement, you know how much bullshit it is and how horrible it is to ever say that to someone, give them a false idea that you can actually choose to be happy when you can't.
What us bereaved are having a hard time figuring out is, do people honestly think that we choose to be this way? For example, I have anxiety and ptsd, there are a vast amount of side effects that come with those mental illnesses. Do people who do not have these mental illnesses honestly think we choose to be anxious and worried and fearful? Do people think we choose to throw up from anxiety or ache so severely or shut ourselves in doors to keep us grounded? Do people think we choose to miss our or decline events because we are ";lazy" or "anti-social"? Do people think we have a hard time planning, organizing, making eye contact because we choose to? Do people think we honestly chose to feel miserable and sad, so much so that some days you break down in the parking lot of a hardware store or in the middle of the frozen food section at a grocery store? Do people think we choose to leave when things become too hard? Do people think we choose to look over bearing and protective of our children because we unfortunately know life is not guaranteed?
It seems that people think those with mental illness choose a lot of "unhappy" things in their life, like it's honestly their choice. It doesn't work like that. I've found those who do not walk this journey and do not understand how to be supportive think we choose these horrible ways to live, like anyone would every choose to feel this way all the time.
I compare it to my food restrictions. Many people do not understand and seem to think I choose to just not eat dairy or wheat when in fact, scientifically it has been proven that my body cannot break down diary or wheat. There are dire consequences if I eat even a small amount (just the other day there was butter on my gluten free toast that I was unaware of because I said no dairy) I spent two days in severe pain, alternating between gravol and advil all day long, missing out on fathers day dinner because I could not be aware from the bathroom. I had a severe headache and stomach ache from just a tiny amount. I don't choose this, I wish more than anything I could eat dairy and gluten filled foods because they are delicious. I miss so many yummy foods. Not to mention the cost to buy dairy and gluten free is not budget friendly. But no, people think I just choose this and it's as easy as just eating them again. It's not.
Its the same for mental illness, do people honestly think we should go on merrily about our lives, pretending we didn't have children die? Like that situation wouldn't change the way you live life? Do you honestly think that is the case? I've now had three children die, two had names and we held, one was to early to know, but do people honestly expect me to live a happy life and be thankful got every god damn thing? It DOES NOT work like that. My grief, my journey greatly affects how I live now. Anxiety dictates a large part of my life because my brain. My body. It remembers everything, all the pain, the heartache, the sorrow, the fear of something going wrong because it has. The daily fight to find the will to keep going, trying to figure out how to breathe and make it through some days.
It affects my marriage severely, that is an ongoing struggle. It affects the way I parent. We are pretty lax with Bee to a point, she gets a lot of things as well as a lot of one on one time because she may be the only one. We do also raise her to be kind and think of others but the girl swears and I'm okay with it. I honestly could care less if my daughter says oh shit. At least she uses it in the proper context and knows not to direct any swear words at anyone (she only knows shit so far, but I imagine fuck is close behind) Sometimes swear words are the only words that fit the situation and like I've said before, I do not hold my daughter to a higher standard than any other adults. Adults swear, so she can too.
Bee also talks a lot about death. She talks about how everyone will die and how we will see Ty and Jacob again, even when we are out in public she talks about death and I get eye popping, jaw dropping stares directed my way, but I won't quiet her. She has such a pure innocence about death and isn't afraid and I want her to hold onto that as long as she can. I want her to keep that outlook and innocence about death so we talk about it in the grocery store, I say yes everyone dies at some point and we go on with our day. Death is a large part of our lives, it's normal and healthy to talk about.
But, do people honestly think we choose to have sad moments, to live a life of fear, to worry so much we make ourselves sick, to be "lazy", don't people think we would choose to be happy and worry free, enjoy life and not mind the small stuff, or not let circumstances dictate our life? It sounds wonderful, it truly does but that's not how it works. So enlighten me, are there people out there who honestly think emotions, mentality, situations can always be chosen? Are there people who think just because they don't understand they have all the answers and can't provide support?
P.S. She got the fish. Named them: Snowflake, Lollipop, Zoe, Goldie and Seashell (See previous post)