Today, three of my friends are upset because their Facebook posts about their children have been met with comments of sympathy or misunderstanding...again. This happens all the time, but it just happened to three of them at once and it made me stop and think. It made me think that a blog post was warranted. For them. For me. For all of us whose only connection to our children is through the past.
I want to clear up a few misconceptions.
Misconception 1: We are posting for sympathy.
Let me tell you, the last thing we want is sypmathy. We don't want you to feel sorry for us. We don't want you to feel sorry for our child. We aren't posting about our baby so you will feel bad because, believe it or not, our child's death is not about you. It's not about what we can get from you. We don't want "sad eyes" or tilted heads. We don't need a virtual pat on the back from you telling us it will all be okay. We aren't posting to remind you about our child's death - we are posting to remind you about their life and about our love for them. Life and Love do not need sypmathy.
Misconception 2: We are unable to handle our grief.
Honestly, this one is incredibly annoying. If we were unable to handle our grief, we would be dead already. The fact that we are alive to even create a post is proof enough we are handling things just fine. Maybe you don't think we are because some posts seem "depressing" or "morbid". Maybe you are concerned because for the last several days (or months), our posts have focused on our missing child and on how hard it is that they are gone. Handling grief is feeling grief. Unless you have given birth to your dead child, had to watch them die shortly after birth, or walked up to their lifeless body laying in their crib, you cannot make decisions regarding how we chose to handle their absence. Posts about our children do not mean we aren't handling our grief. They mean we are handling our love.
Misconception 3: We are posting because we are sad.
Sometimes we are sad, yes. However, for the most part, when we need to get that sadness out into a post, it will be in one of our loss groups where people understand it, not on our personal wall, where it will, inevitably, be misconstrued. It is possible we do want you to understand how this feels, and so we post a status in hopes that you will. But, we aren't sad all the time. Not every post is made in sadness. Not every picture we upload or quote we share is because we are drenched in sorrow. We are sad our child died, but not everything makes us sad. Sometimes, we can remember without sadness. Sometimes, we can remember with joy and love.
Misconcepition 4: We have become dark and twisted, or we are full of "negative energy".
Our outlook on life has changed. We see the world differently than we used to, differently than you do. That is true. Especially those of us who had previously been untouched by death, we see the finality of life more clearly. We take less B.S. from people and we are more likely to appreciate the current moment over a future one. Sometimes, it is hard to plan for the future because the one we had been working on was ripped away, but that doesn't mean we don't appreciate what we have. It doesn't mean we are negative and are brimming with darkness.
So, why do we post? Why do you post pictures of your children? You post about your children because you love them and because they are a part of your life. You post because you are proud of them and you want to show them off. You post because you think your kids are amazing and wonderful and the greatest kids in the world. Same here. The only difference is, the child we are posting about is dead. But, that shouldn't make a difference. We are just mothers who want to share our child with you. And since they aren't here to share, we share our feelings about that. We share the same pictures over and over because they are the only ones we have. We share quotes and images about healing and grief. We share articles about loss, links to charities, and events for awareness walks. It is our way of being a part of motherhood - our way of including our child in social media like everyone else's child is.
A question going around in your head may be, "Well, then, how do I respond to your posts?". Many people have said to me over the years that they just don't know what to say in response to some of my posts. Honestly, you don't have to say anything. A "like" will suffice. We don't interpret your "like" as anything but a supportive gesture. Please, though, don't give us frowny faced emoticons. Don't tell us we are making you sad.
We aren't looking for anything. We aren't reaching out for help. We are just being a mom.