A few months after my son Bobby died, I had lunch with a few friends. I still wasn’t up to socializing, but I agreed to go anyway. One of the women said something that made me want to jump across the table and grab her by the throat. I know she meant her words as comfort, but at that time it was like rubbing salt in an already gaping wound. It’s now been five years and I can remember my visceral reaction that day.
Here are two things NEVER to say to a grieving mother:
He/she is in a better place.No he’s not! He should be here with his family. With me. How could any place be better?
If you just do X, you’ll find closure. Really? What does closure mean, exactly? Do you think one simple act will help relieve the unrelenting aching of my empty arms?
As any mom will tell you, after 5 years, 10 years, or even longer, there is no such thing as closure. Writing my book, BECAUSE OF GRACE, didn’t bring closure. Putting a brass plaque with Bobby’s name on the Children’s Memorial Tree in South Lake Tahoe didn’t bring me closure. Closure is like trying to grab smoke.
Has anyone ever said anything to you like this? How did you respond?
Too many people have lost their lives in the past few months due to violence. This isn’t a blog post about the Second Amendment. Rather, it’s a reminder that for every young man or woman who used a gun or knife to kill others, there’s a mother who mourns.
A mother remembers her perfect newborn, chubby toddler, hopeful kindergartener. She looks back and wonders what she could have done differently so the outcome of her son’s life would be different.
They call him a monster, a murderer, a demon-possessed pawn of Satan. He called her mommy. They search for someone to blame. Was he bullied? Abused? Eventually the fingers point to her. If she’d been a better parent, he wouldn’t have bought a gun and hunted his perceived enemies like prey.
So she grieves his life and death by his own hand. She mourns what could have been. She’ll regret the choices she’s made. And she’ll miss him every day of her life.