"I will praise the one who's chosen me, to carry you"
-Selah: I will carry you

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Obligatory sympathy

I have noticed recently, on social media, that people have stopped commenting so much on some of my posts- specifically the difficult, sad, grief loaded ones.  Me being me, I decided to observe as much on my latest status.  I got the expected reassurances from friends who are "still listening just not commenting" which is fine, but in amongst them was an honest, not unkind, comment that took me by surprise: "unbroken humans get bored/tired of hearing about the despair of others after the obligatory sympathy period"*  The words themselves didn't surprise me, I had figured that much out for myself, but the fact that someone would actually say it suprised me. And it's made me decide to write about this concept of the "obligatory sympathy period".

I understand, now I am here, what people mean when they say the second year is in some ways harder than the first. People have by now expected you to move on, stop sharing your grief, it's making us all uncomfortable.  Be British about it and pretend it never happened. The "obligatory sympathy period" is over and we don't want to hear it any more. Nor will we remember when we wake up on September 18th, why it's a difficult day for you,  we have gone on with our lives, our worlds have carried on, and they don't include your son. Sounds harsh, doesn't it? But I do believe it is true. Good friends will reassure me that they don't feel this way...yet. But I expect there will come a time when they do. It's human nature.  People don't want to keep witnessing and being reminded of horrible pain/misfortune/despair. It's easier to hide it, turn a blind eye, forget it and go back to whatever they are up to at the moment.  

I wish I could.  I wish my life, my whole life, would not now be tempered by this cataclysmic event. I wish my life weren't divided into "before he died" and "after he died" But it is.  I can't feel momentary sympathy, then forget it and go back to my cornflakes. This is my life, forever.   I wonder if I will ever reach the point of wanting to not talk about it? Of wanting to pretend he didn't happen?  I have family members who I believe have reached that point already. Maybe it's a generational thing, maybe it's because I'm his mum...but I don't believe I ever will. Maybe though, just maybe, I will at some point feel able to keep a lid on it, to not feel the need to remind everyone else that he DID exist and it DOES hurt like hell that he isn't in my arms now.  Until I reach that point, thankyou to those who still feel able to listen, and a bigger thankyou to those who still talk to me about it.

I don't want obligatory sympathy, or generic responses of condolence and platitude. I want friends, true friends, who genuinely care about me and my life....and most of all, my son. 

I just want him to be remembered.

* I am not using this post to have a go at the person in question at all, I have included the comment purely to show the context of my writing today.


  1. Selena (Karis's mummy)25 August 2013 at 19:21

    I will spend the rest of my life being reminded of Bertie every time I hear the train whistles blow....and I will think of him and smile, and remember. xxxxxx

  2. Everytime I look at the sky I keep an eye out for Bertie on his train.....i do this because this beautiful little man has touched my heart, just liek his Mummy has....and while chuffing along in his cloud train he is bringing my Haydon along for fun and frolicks, and yep..a visit to his mum. Don't ever stop talking, don't ever stop saying his name ...I want to keep hearing it, because he was/is/always will be your beautiful little creation that couldn't stay, andI know when he left he took a helluva lot with him....I'm here, and i'm not going anywhere xxxx real friends will share the same view, I do not doubt it xxx

  3. A friend of mine sent me a link to your blog and this is the first post I read. As a fellow "angel mom," I hate that other people have to go through this alone. It sounds like you don't know a lot of people who have lost their babies, which can make it hard to find people who have the right amount of sympathy for you (by which I mean: people that can honestly understand how you feel). I have made a bunch of friends that I've found online and I would love to add you as well on my Facebook or Pinterest, if you're interested.

    I lost my daughter, Ava, on November 8, 2012 due to a genetic disorder. She was four days old. I don't know what you believe, but I bet our babies have found each other in heaven and are good friends.

    My birthday is also September 18, so I will be thinking of you that day. Our babies will not be forgotten.