Words not to say…

Today, my friend recommended grief counseling. And I guess we are opting for some coaching that another friend is doing. I’m not certain what the goal is or what the point is… but I am certain that the intentions are spot on and that if nothing else, it certainly can’t hurt. I’m adding it to the list of things I am doing. Excercise. Yoga. Karate. Thursday night group. Blogging. Painting. Poetry. All along work and other stuff. I guess I’m doing okay. But I’m willing to take suggestions. I am grateful for the help I have gotten and without the support of those people that love me… love us… I wouldn’t have gotten this far. 

I was writing a poem about seasons… about the lack of winter and how things are out of order, that this was a metaphor for parents mourning the death of a child. And after two hours of trying… I scrapped it. Probably because I was watching TV and not just using it as a background noise… or that the Walking Dead was on and Winter Olympics was popping in or out… or that things were going on- conversations in facebook… and my wife and I were looking at pictures of urns my brother in law made for Ethan’s ashes… (I like the one with the fish motif)

Months ago, I wrote about words said with good intentions… words that are supposed to comfort that are said by good and caring people… that didn’t really work for me. And maybe it is worth noting now…

“God has a plan.” Really? This doesn’t help. Telling me that God planned to let my son kill himself isn’t comforting. The plan sucks. I vote for a different plan… one in which my son lives. Lets rewind this and start over… with a much much better plan. 

“God doesn’t give you more than you can handle. Just depend on Him.” Again, this doesn’t help and it isn’t even biblical. The bible talks about not giving you more temptation than you can handle. But it is filled with characters like Job who are given far, far more tragedy and tribulation than someone can handle. This is more than any parent can handle… and didn’t I depend on Him to protect my son? And besides, most of the Apostles were martyred. They had much more than they could handle. People need to stop trying to make me hate God by making him out to be a heartless ass hat.  Better: God will be with you when you encounter more than you can handle… on the floor with you holding you and crying with you, and even making you dinner. 

“You’ll see him again someday.” Yeah… but not today. Not tomorrow. Not a year from now. Probably not for several decades. And I won’t see the man he got to become or the woman he marries and children he raises. I don’t get to live life with him and share his journey. I won’t see his face or hear his voice or feel his bear hugs. These things are gone from my life for the duration of my life. 

“Just read [insert Bible verses here] and you’ll feel better.” I did. I don’t. Thanks.

“Just do this…” People have lots of advice. Do this. Eat that. Exercise more. Read this. Pray that. Listen to this song. I appreciate the thoughts and the effort. Right away, my doctor starts rattling off therapies and medications… and I’m thinking that he looks more upset than I feel… maybe he needs drugs and help. And it isn’t that all these things are not helpful. They all are. Some in small ways. Some in smaller ways. BUT I really don’t feel all that much better. I might be functioning better. I might be coping better. I might be crying less, sleeping better and doing better at work. But I am still not all that fine with my son being dead. It isn’t right and Romans 8:28 doesn’t change that. I’m already quite overwhelmed… and just the normal daily tasks seem to take a lot of effort. I’m okay with being hurt. I’m okay with being sad. I really did love my son… Don’t try to rob me of that pain that comes from loving someone who died too young. BUT I really do appreciate the effort. Right now my list is very very long… and really I’m not blowing off your advice, but it may take time to get to it. But really overwhelming me with bible verses and things to do doesn’t seem to be what I need. 

“This world is not our home.  He’s in a better place now.” Like I said before, he was in Fresno. Oxnard is a better place. Dead? Not a good place for me. I’d rather have him here. And besides, if you think about this statement long enough then suicide must be your best option. Life is a good place. You really have to commit to that idea at this point… at least I do. 

“He’s with God now.” Aren’t we all? Wasn’t he before? Isn’t there a better way to be with God?

“He’s not suffering anymore.” He was loved. He had family. Had he lived one more day, he would have moved on from that suffering and still been alive. Temporary problems will resolve. That is why they are temporary. There are a whole hell of a lot of better ways to end suffering then death,

“If you need anything, let me know. I’m here for you.” This is a perfectly good statement said by caring people. People who love me say this and I am grateful. I am glad you want to help. I am sure you can and I don’t doubt your sincerity. BUT here is the kicker. I don’t know what I need. I don’t know how to ask… and when you say that you are here for me, you usually aren’t actually here… and you have your life to live. You can’t stop, spend all day with me and figure out what I need and then deliver it. What I want is my son back. I don’t think that you can do that. But short of that, what will help? I really don’t know. Maybe hang out. Tell me that this really sucks. Chocolate? Maybe I need to walk… or sleep or to correct this pile of papers. Maybe I need to vent. Do you want to be here for that? People put the onus on me to call them and ask for stuff that I probably can’t fathom,  when like I said, I’m pretty overwhelmed and everything takes effort. 

and finally…

“I know how you feel, my dog died.” Thank you. This is like that, except that instead of Fido… it was my son. People kind of know what loss is like, because they have lost a beloved pet… or maybe a grandparent… or even a parent. Yeah. That is tough. This is like that. What they are saying is that they want me to know that they understand a little of my pain. And I do appreciate that. 

This will take a while. Perhaps a life time. And things have changed and won’t ever go back to where they were. So I am committed to life and to living it. I am committed to my relationships. I am grateful to a good many people who have helped me along the way, and really I am not eschewing help and advice and wise counsel. 

What really helped is having people around. Is people that could just sit in a room with me… with us… and be there. Share some time. Go to a movie or dinner… or nothing. Help with something mundane. Call. Check in. Make a comment, share a joke. Tell me about your day. You don’t necessarily have to try to fix anything or make me feel better. Yeah, this sucks. When I think of God being with us through this… I mean it… through my family, my church family… even my co-workers. God was there. He was with us on the floor. He sat with us for long hours. He walked with us. In the hundred people that were with us every step… God was there. Supporting us and being with us… holding us up and helping us along. He didn’t fix it. He didn’t take away the grief or numb the pain. And when I said, “this sucks,” He said, “I know.”


2 thoughts on “Words not to say…

  1. We humans can be really horrible at comforting. How Do you comfort and encourage those who are blue? (or green) I am asking this in all seriousness…….How do you encourage yourself? How do you encourage others? Is it even possible for humans or do we need divine intervention? Still sending imperfect love to you and Marquita….


    • Thank you. Intentions really do matter. You and I- perfect in our imperfection. This specific situation is bitter and hard and I don’t think it can be fixed. I don’t think there is something that can be said, or done, or ingested… and there is no special dance to take away all the sadness and pain.


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