Things People Say

We all know that as grieving parents we are very sensitive to what others say to us early in our grief journey.  I often hear from other grieving dads that tell me about things that people, that are trying to help, have said to them.  Things that are said that are meant to provide comfort often, unknowingly, inflict pain.

I remember when I was deep in my grief and overly sensitive, I had a very good friend of mine tell me that my wife and I could always adopt a child.  He continually mentioned this to me until I finally asked him if he could replace his two sons if they died.  Of course he said no and apologized for implying that I could.

I hated when people would tell me, “Your children would want you to be happy”.  My first thought was “how do you know what they want”.   I knew what they meant, but I had gone through the loss of two children over 18 months and I just couldn’t reprogram my mind to act like nothing had happened.  As many of you reading this can attest, it just doesn’t work like that.  It can take years of mentally processing the events and circumstances surrounding the death of your child.  I believe some sense of happiness cannot return until the processing has taken place.

I also liked the comment “I am worried about you; you don’t seem to be doing well”.  Really?  What gave you that idea?  The fact that I haven’t smiled or laughed for the last year or is it the dramatic weight loss, changes in my physical appearance, my attitude of not giving a shit or is it the lost stares that appear to be looking at nothing.  They were right, I wasn’t doing well.

These are just a couple of things that people have said to me.  I could go on for quite awhile, but I would like to hear from others that have also experienced pain from well intended statements.  Feel free to share your experiences.

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This entry was posted in Death of a Child, Emotions, Grief, Grieving Dads Words, Happiness, Healing, Loss of a Child, Pain, Words of Encouragement. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Things People Say

  1. Jack Hobby says:

    It;s nice to have woman reply to this site. Because we are all different in the ways we grieve. Yes like all of us that have lost a child there is no replacing them. After all the things people said to me about losing my son, only one made me think and gave me some comfort. “God took him before the evil of this world we live in took him”. I know some of you this won’t comfort but it helped me and it came from a man I did not know. He just kept coming to me at my new job just to say hello and the more I tried to avoid him he would find me. Now we are close friends. It was like someone or thing was telling him to seek me and help me. After a year or so I found out he was a pastor. No one had told him I had lost a child, he told me later that something kept telling him to seek me then after he found out about my lose is when he said “God took him before the evil of this world we live in took him.

  2. Stephanie says:

    We found out less than a week ago that we lost our baby at 10 weeks, 6 days. Just weeks earlier we’d seen and heard such a strong, healthy heartbeat. We went in for our NT scan, and the moment I saw her on the monitor I knew something was wrong. She was too small. She was all curled up, and she wasn’t moving. There was no heartbeat. In one instant, we were destroyed.

    People say things like “at least you know you can get pregnant” and “you can try again” and I just want to scream. MY BABY DIED. When someone’s mother or father or brother dies, people don’t walk around talking about replacing them, so why do they do that with babies? My baby is not replaceable.

    • Grieving Dads says:

      Stephanie,

      Your story breaks my heart becasue I can relate all to well. I am so sorry for the loss of your sweet baby girl. You are 100% correct, non of our children are replaceable. I had a dear friend that say to me “you can always try to have another child.” I let him say it a few times and then I asked him “could you replace your sons if one of them died”. Of course the answer was no and he understood the message. I think when you turn it back towards people in a way they can some how manage to see themselves in, their perspective changes.

      This is a very difficult journey and I want you to know that this blog is not just for dads, its for anyone that walks in our shoes, so you are welcome back anytime.

      Peace.

      Kelly

  3. Jack Hobby says:

    It;s nice to have woman reply to this site. Because we are all different in the ways we grieve. Yes like all of us that have lost a child there is no replacing them. After all the things people said to me about losing my son, only one made me think and gave me some comfort. “God took him before the evil of this world we live in took him”. I know some of you this won’t comfort but it helped me and it came from a man I did not know. He just kept coming to me at my new job just to say hello and the more I tried to avoid him he would find me. Now we are close friends. It was like someone or thing was telling him to seek me and help me. After a year or so I found out he was a pastor. No one had told him I had lost a child, he told me later that something kept telling him to seek me then after he found out about my lose is when he said “God took him before the evil of this world we live in took him.

  4. GrievingDads says:

    Stephanie,

    Your story breaks my heart becasue I can relate all to well. I am so sorry for the loss of your sweet baby girl. You are 100% correct, non of our children are replaceable. I had a dear friend that say to me “you can always try to have another child.” I let him say it a few times and then I asked him “could you replace your sons if one of them died”. Of course the answer was no and he understood the message. I think when you turn it back towards people in a way they can some how manage to see themselves in, their perspective changes.

    This is a very difficult journey and I want you to know that this blog is not just for dads, its for anyone that walks in our shoes, so you are welcome back anytime.

    Peace.

    Kelly

  5. Stephanie says:

    We found out less than a week ago that we lost our baby at 10 weeks, 6 days. Just weeks earlier we’d seen and heard such a strong, healthy heartbeat. We went in for our NT scan, and the moment I saw her on the monitor I knew something was wrong. She was too small. She was all curled up, and she wasn’t moving. There was no heartbeat. In one instant, we were destroyed.

    People say things like “at least you know you can get pregnant” and “you can try again” and I just want to scream. MY BABY DIED. When someone’s mother or father or brother dies, people don’t walk around talking about replacing them, so why do they do that with babies? My baby is not replaceable. 😦

  6. Steven Stuart says:

    Oh boy do I have a list for this one!!!

    I will start with the the one that almost had a co-worker join my son, Colin.

    “Think of the bright side, you are saving ~$1,100 a month.” (referring to day care and prepaid college fund expenses)

    “I know how you feel, I have a parakeet die in my hand when I was young.” (really, a parakeet!!! I can buy one at the pet store for $10)

    “When you have another child, the pain will subside.” (That is a moronic assumption by any stretch of the imagination)

    Those are the three that stick out the most among the hundreds (yes hundreds) of dumb things people say.

  7. Mitchell says:

    I know what you are talking about. Did anyone make comments to you that you felt were appropriate?

    • GrievingDads says:

      Mitchell,

      Great question! Absolutely there were people in my life that said all of the right things. Some of these people were often people that they themselves had gone thought difficult times. One friend in particular was a woman about 25 years older than me. She had gone thought two bouts of breast cancer and was completing treatment on her second bout when I met her. It was about 2 months after my second loss and I had hired her to do some real estate consulting for me (I am/was a real estate broker). She had me meet her at her house, but after about 3 hours of talking, crying and sharing our stories, she became a very dear friend for mine. She knew I needed compassion and tough love at the same time. I remember one time I was at home (called in sick because I was having a bad day) in early December (in Chicago area so it was cold, dark and gray outside). I came across some photos of my wife when she was pregnant with my son and I was just bawling. I decided to give her a call for support. It makes me laugh thinking about it today, but she says “Kelly, do you think it is good idea to be looking at those pictures”. She said it in a tone that was like “what the heck are you thinking, stop the self inflicted pain”. She would send me poems and email out of the blue to check in with me. A very dear friend (an angel sent to me) that lost her life to her third bout with breast cancer late last year. Her zest for life and her compassion taught me to look at life differently. She is just one of the many angels sent to me to help me through my journey. People that did and said all of the right things. I believe these people are all around us, you just have to be willing to open up and allow these people to present themselves. It also teaches you how important it is to reach out to others that come after you. There is healing in helping others.

      Thank you Mitchell for asking this question.

      Peace.

      Kelly Farley

  8. Jack Hobby says:

    I lost my son all most on his 19th birthday.It’s been 5.5 yrs now. I also was put out with peoples standard sayings. I’m sure you have heard them all. I asked a few people that are in our club as I call it ( a very unwanted club that you can never get out of) 1. does it ever get any better? The ones that were honest said NO our brains go into protection mode to keep from going crazy. I can honestly answer you with NO it doesn’t get any better, it just comes in waves I’ll be fine for an hour or days and then it comes right back just like it happened yesterday. (tears flow, anger,why him,why not me instead, what could I have done, what didn’t I do? i feel like I should have done more.) I am a Dad (pops as he use to call me) not a pay by the week father I was there with his mother (my wife)from day one. People say that 90% of couples split up after losing a child, because of the pain. We went through it, we almost hated each other. We learned that we were feeling the same things just at different times.(I would be angry she would be sad and so on) I stared a new job less then a year after his death. No body liked me they all thought I thought I was better than them, because I wouldn’t talk to them or sit in the break room I would sit out side in my truck until it was time to get a load. There was one man that would walk across the yard just to say hello. In my mind at first I would think Dam here he comes again. I would have to dry up the tears before he got there and put on the face. After about 6 or 7 months of him coming to my truck I told him why I sat alone. He said he knew. I had never told anybody there and I did not know this man. I asked him how he knew. he said that god told him to keep coming to my truck. Then he said and this blew me away! That god took him before the evil of this world took him. No one had ever said that to me, I fell apart on the spot. I was so angry with god, people, the sun for coming up in the morning, everything and everybody Dam them all! I was able to find some comfort in what he said. We are now good friends. Don’t get me wrong I believe, but I am far from preaching or pushing the word. It took me several years to be able to talk about his death. Now I have 3 grandsons from my 2 daughters and I can see him in all of them. I really hope this might help. Email me if you would like to talk. (yes as men we can have feelings. Men are not suppose to feel anything. B.S*^T

    • GrievingDads says:

      Jack,

      I have to be honest, it took me several years, but it did get better for me. However, after my first loss, I tried to be strong and fight through it. If it wasn’t for the second loss, I am not sure I can say that it ever gets better. The second loss brought me to my knees in a way I can’t even explain with words. It striped everything away from me. Confidence, ego, pride, anger……etc. It humbled me in a way that allowed (forced is a better word here) me to rebuild myself. I learned after the second loss that certain things do not matter in life. Impressing others, climbing the corporate ladder, making lots of money (yes we still need to eat and have a place to sleep, but there is something to keeping it simple). I have tried to become more transparent in my emotions as a way to show other men that crying is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of courage and if anyone tells you differently, f**k them. I don’t give a shit if I am in a conversation with someone and I start to cry. If they don’t like it, whatever, that’s their problem. I was tired of being the one that had to make everyone around my comfortable while I was very uncomfortable. It may sound selfish to be this way, and maybe it is, but I believe this attitude of “its all about me at this moment” helped me to stop burying the pain and let it out when it comes. I found that it was harder on me to hold it in than it was to let it out. Some of the best advice I ever received from a counselor was when I would tell her that “this isn’t me, I don’t cry and I can control all my emotions”. Her response was “it’s who you are right now, don’t fight it and just let it be what it is”. I have learned to just let it be what it is at the moment, don’t panic, it will run it’s course. No, you will never be the same person again. The sooner your can accept this, the better off you will be. I tried for a long time to get back to the old me. Not possible. I beleive this applies to everyone that has expereinced trauma in their life. Reaching out to others in pain has helped me to heal more than any other thing I have tried.

      Jack, I appreciate you stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Please continue to offer you insight on this post and others in the future. There are a lot of people (1500 a month) that visit this blog looking for some insight into what they are going dealing with. Hearing from other dad’s that have the courage to share only helps them to open up.

      Peace.

      Kelly Farley

  9. Robb says:

    Yes, people’s stupid comments is one of the hardest things for me to move on from in this whole process. I don’t know why I let them get under my skin so much. The embarrassing thing for me is that in my calmer moments I realize that before losing my daughter I must have said similar things. I’ve certainly never said anything like some of the more insensitive comments my wife and I have received, but if I’m honest I have to admit that before losing my daughter that whole attitude that Thomas captures in his comment “I think we make others uncomfortable and that is what they are trying to fix,” was definitely true of me more times than I like to think about. It’s not easy being the one who always makes everyone around uncomfortable; thank God for those rare friends who can handle a little discomfort…who realize that the sense of loss is not fixable with a few flippant platitudes about God and angels…

    • GrievingDads says:

      Robb,

      I have heard my fair share of “God and Angel” platitudes. They didn’t help me. Meditation and prayer helped me, but the platitudes, not so much.

      I have to agree with you, I am sure I was one of those that said things to others that were hurtful. Obviously that was never my intention, but until you are in it yourself, you do not understand. I remember a friend of mine had lost a baby a week before the due date to cord strangulation. I vividly remember leaving the funeral home and turning to my wife and saying “do you think it really hurts them that much, they didn’t even know the baby”. That was a year before my first loss. Although I didn’t say it directly to the parents, I called my friend after our loss and told him about my comment and apologized for not understanding.

      It’s been over 4 years since the loss of my son and 6 since my daughter. Today I don’t let people’s comments get under my skin, but I do remember the day when they did. I now just consider it ignorance on their part and hope they never have to truly ever “get it”.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this Robb.

      Peace.

      Kelly Farley

  10. Thomas Calvert says:

    One week from today (Thanksgiving) will be the eighteen months to the day since I found my 23 year old son David lying on his bed dead from a heroin overdose.
    I COULD HAVE WRITTEN THIS MYSELF !
    Thank you for capturing this truth so well. People just have no idea how cold the loneliness and emptiness can be for a father once his child is gone. I think we make others uncomfortable and that is what they are trying to fix.

    • GrievingDads says:

      Thomas,

      Thinking about you as Thanksgiving Day approaches. I know first hand how holidays and anniversaries can weigh on your mind for weeks leading up to them.

      You are correct, most people do not have any idea how lonely and empty a father feels after the death of a child. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact we (as men) have a difficult time talking about it so people are always aware. Since we are expected to be pillars of stregth, it makes them very uneasy when we appear less than that. It scares a lot of people when the pillars start to crumble and the real emotions and pain comes out. They don’t know what to do so they try to help by sometimes saying crazy things.

      Thanks for sharing and stopping by this blog. The honesty of not only myself, but all of the men that stop by here helps others feel comfortable with opening up, which I beleive helps get it out.

      Peace.

      Kelly Farley

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