Monday, March 17, 2014

Why it’s ok to say “congratulations” and “I’m sorry” in the same breath.

As we reflect on these 4 weeks since Brody’s arrival and departure, I feel like I’m starting to grapple with it all. Perhaps I was in shock and survival mode. I’m asking myself, and God, some hard questions. It’s good… part of the process.

I thought I would share a few thoughts that might make it “easier” for everyone. It’s hard for me to imagine the roles reversed, and what I would say to someone like myself, not knowing what it’s like… and we've definitely experienced some awkwardness, some avoidance, and some ignorance. Which I will say first and foremost is fine! I don’t expect anyone to “get it”. I don’t expect anyone to have all the right words at every right time. I won’t be offended if you mumble an awkward phrase, or even if you can’t bear to “go there”.

A few ideas that might give insight into what I’m thinking and feeling, and then hopefully make it easier for you to be around me – or anyone going through such grief:

1.       It’s ok to not know what to say.
There are many occasions in life that leave us dumbfounded and speechless. Certainly I’m not surprised that this one is in such company. Guess what – I don’t always know what to say about it either! So it’s ok. If you want to say something, just say, “I don’t know what to say!” and that will mean more to me than you could know. It’s so much better than avoiding the subject all together.

2.       Talk to me.
Avoidance is painful. I don’t want to just be ignored. Yes, we may have asked for our space, but that doesn't mean you can’t talk to me when we see each other. We simply didn't want to be bombarded with visitors at home. Now though, we need people to acknowledge our presence as we step back into life. Say hello. Don’t make us feel like we are making everyone uncomfortable (though I understand that may be the case). And if you are uncomfortable, I refer you to number 1.

3.       It’s not all sad.
While this is an unbearable grief much of the time, there is still joy. We are still thankful for this little life God granted us. We want to acknowledge Brody and remember him and talk about how happy we are to be his parents. We’re parents! I admit it doesn't feel real most of the time, but you can remind me. It’s ok to say congratulations. It may be mixed with pain and sorrow, but we are happy too to call Brody our son. Allow the grief to dance with joy.

4.       Say, “I’m sorry”.
Along with “I don’t know what to say,” the best and simplest thing to say is, “I’m sorry.” We don’t need to hear, “you’ll have more kids”. Brody can’t be replaced. I've heard it compared to this – if you lose your mom, do you get to just have a new one? Perhaps God will grant us more children, but that is neither here nor there in the midst of the loss of Brody. We also don’t need to hear things like “Heaven needed another angel.” First of all, that’s some messed up theology. Second, it’s an attempt to put a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound. Trite, commonplace phrases make it seem like you are trying to give a simple answer to something very far from simple. Saying, “I’m sorry,” really is soothing. It lets us know you care. You acknowledge Brody, the pain, the fact that it’s not easy, and lets us know you’re with us – you haven’t forgotten.

5.       Let me laugh.
Life does go on as they say. It doesn't always feel that way. Life will never be the same. We have a new normal. But in life, there is joy and laughter. I don’t want anyone to think that if they see me being silly and making jokes that it means I've “moved on” or that I’m “all better now”. I can’t be grieving all the time! I’d implode! We have to have moments of brevity and escape. I need to dance at Zumba and make jokes with my girls. It doesn't mean I won’t get in the car and think of Brody and cry, but it is necessary and part of the healing to feel the full range of emotions. God gave them to us! I don’t’ think he ever intended for us to pack one up in a box, never to be used again. There is a time and place for everything… we will mourn and we will celebrate, but we will never forget our sweet Brody man.

On this, Brody’s one month in heaven, I sometimes wonder about the ache in my heart. I feel I will carry it forever. I wrote this to a fellow anencephaly mom in our FB group:
“I think we will grow thankful for that ache. That way our little ones are always with us. I'd rather have the sorrow than forget completely. I'd rather carry the pain than to have never known the love.”

Love you so much sweet Brody man!


  1. Perfect, Amy. We all needed to hear this from you because we love you and we want you to know that, but sometimes it's hard to know what to say or not say because we don't want to inflict more pain. Your guidelines really help--in so many ways.

  2. Amy, I've been following your story for a few months. You have been on my heart, friend. <3 As you said above, I really don't know what to say, because nothing seems like quite "enough" to do the situation justice. But just know that you are on my heart, and I've been praying for you and your husband!

  3. I love what you have written. I would love to write something similar on my blog. Would you mind if I steal your idea? I will credit you and give a link to your blog.

    1. Sure I'd be happy for you to share! thx!