A couple weeks ago we received a letter in the mail from one of the social workers we met while in Iowa City. She sent a nice message along with a couple documents on grieving. One of the documents was entitled: A Bereaved Parent’s Wish List. As I read through the list, I felt like each item hit close to home. I honestly have experienced each “wish” at one time or another. I hope it is appropriate to share these things with those who still read my blog and who would perhaps appreciate an honest and personal look into my “bereavement”.
A Bereaved Parent’s Wish List
(I have highlighted in bold the feelings I have most often)
1. I wish my child hadn’t died. I wish I had him back.
2. I wish you wouldn’t be afraid to speak my child’s name. My child lived and was very important to me. I need to hear that he was important to you as well.
3. If I cry and get emotional when you talk about my child, I wish you knew that it isn’t because you have hurt me. My child’s death is the cause of my tears. You have talked about my child, and you have allowed me to share my grief. I thank you for both.
4. Being a bereaved parent is not contagious, so I wish you wouldn’t shy away from me. I need you more than ever.
5. I need diversions, so I do want to hear about you; but I also want you to hear about me. I might be sad and I might cry, but I wish you would let me talk about my child, my favorite topic of the day.
6. I know that you think of and pray for me often. I also know that my child’s death pains you, too. I wish you would let me know things through a phone call, a card or a note, or a real big hug.
7. I wish you wouldn’t expect my grief to be over in six months. These first months are traumatic for me, but I wish you could understand that my grief will never be over. I will suffer the death of my child until the day I die.
8. I am working very hard in my recovery, but I wish you could understand that I will never fully recover. I will always miss my child, and I will always grieve that he is dead.
9. I wish you wouldn’t expect me “not to think about it” or to “be happy”. Neither will happen for a very long time so don’t frustrate yourself.
10. I don’t want to have a “pity party,” but I do wish you would let me grieve. I must hurt before I can heal.
11. I wish you understood how my life has shattered. I know it is miserable for you to be around me when I’m feeling miserable. Please be as patient with me as I am with you.
12. When I say, “I’m doing okay,” I wish you could understand that I don’t feel okay and that I struggle daily.
13. I wish you knew that all of the grief reactions I’m having are very normal. Depression, anger, hopelessness and overwhelming sadness are all to be expected. So please excuse me when I’m quiet and withdrawn or irritable and cranky.
14. Your advice to “take one day at a time” is excellent. However, a day is too much and too fast for me right now. I wish you could understand that it is an accomplishment sometimes to handle an hour at a time.
15. Please excuse me if I seem rude, certainly not my intent. Sometimes the world around me goes too fast and I need to get off. When I walk away, I wish you would let me find a quiet place to spend time alone.
16. I wish you understood that grief changes people. When my child died, a big part of me died with him. I am not the same person I was before my child died, and I will never be that person again.
17. I wish very much that you could understand – understand my loss and my grief, my silence and my tears, my void and my pain.
But I pray daily that you will never understand.