Losing a loved one changes your world completely. It makes even the strongest people an emotional wreck. I have dealt with grief a couple of times in my life. That’s the trouble with age – as you grow old, you lose loved ones. You lose grandparents, uncles, aunties, good friends and over time you begin to realize just how fickle life is. Two losses have stood out for me: the death of my dad and that of my baby.
I lost my baby on 3rd November 2013 and I have realized that my life will never be the same again. This loss will linger forever. Even when I get other children, there will always be the 1st born I lost. I have 2 great friends who are due in March 2014, just like I would have been. Their children will always be a reminder of just how old Leila would have been.
I’m not sharing my story to seem strong. I’m not strong – not at all. There is no one who is strong enough for loss. Grief is hard on all of us. I’m sharing my story to show you what other women who have lost children feel. The permanence of their grief. As we talk about the things we should never tell people who are grieving, I want to show you just how they feel.
Over these few months, people have told me many things – some very encouraging words and some awfully insensitive things. The only thing that has comforted me is that most of these people are my friends and I know they mean well, they probably don’t know what to tell me. I have now learned stuff I will never again tell people who are grieving – people going through any kind of loss. Some of these things we tell people are Biblical clichés that mean well but at that moment they are very hurtful.
In December I joined a support group on Facebook for mothers who have lost children – its called Parents with angels in heaven. It is such an amazing group: women share their stories and greatly encourage one another. We celebrate with those who later get children after a loss and it is incredible. I asked the other mothers in the group to share insensitive stuff they have been told. Here are some of them:
That baby was not yours. You will get another one –Tracy Adhiambo
I was told that my 1yr old daughter was very beautiful, she wouldn’t survive because angehangaisha wanaume (she would stress men) – Esther Githae
I was told my womb had so many eggs that I would give birth until I get tired – Sue Njoki
I hated being asked why I didn’t have an insurance cover that could cater for hospitals like Agakhan and Nairobi Hospital. Not everyone can afford these places – Rispa Shiroh
When I went for an ultrasound scan, the doctor told me “Your baby is dead” in such an unkind tone. He then handed me the scan documents and told me they were my property. Up to now those words still echo in my ears and I get so sad. – Suzzy
I lost 2 pregnancies in a span of one year and the second time people told me that I was rushing to have a baby, kwani kuna compe(like it’s a competition)? When I got pregnant again I never told guys including my family because I was so hurt. – Doris Njuki
I was told that God takes away babies with imperfections early so I should be grateful. And someone actually came out right and asked if it’s something I did! – Angeline Achoka
Some of these comments are downright ridiculous…how do you tell people who are hurting stuff like that? How do you blame them for what happened? How dare you belittle their grief-wondering why they are crying even after this long?
Don’t give people clichés like, “It was God’s will”, “all things work for good” “God had a reason” etc… At that time, I knew that all those things are true but I didn’t want to hear them. Never tell someone “I know how you feel” unless you absolutely do. David, a close friend of ours told me recently “When I lost my mom, I hated people telling me they know how I feel yet they could pick up the phone and call their mom”
Next time a friend is grieving because of a loss, if you don’t have something to say, be quiet. Just be there for them, make them laugh (if they are ready), give them a hug. Don’t say things you don’t mean. And people, no clichés!
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If you have examples of hurtful things people have told you, write it in the comment section and let us enlighten each other.