I think that at a surface level, most of us want to be compassionate and sensitive to others. But I do think that certain barriers (lack of exposure, tolerance, defensiveness, etc) can ruin the best of intentions. If only we could peel back the layers to our humanity, and really see where the other is coming from.
This is what I want to try, in this space, a couple times a month. I’m starting a series called “What I Want You To Know”. It is, quite simply, a place for you to share your story, and the sting that you want other people to be more sensitive of. Maybe you are a single mom tired of the assumptions, or a mom of an autistic child who wants more understanding. Maybe you are an interracial family. Or a same-sex family. Maybe you work. Maybe you homeschool. Maybe your kid is sick . . . really sick. Maybe you are Mormon. Or Muslim. Or decided not to breastfeed. Or can’t get pregnant. Maybe you are depressed.
I want you to tell us – what do you want us to know about your particular circumstance? What is that burning thing that you wish people would “get”?
And then I want us to collectively reach across this little campfire of the blogosphere and hear each other. We don’t have to agree. We just have to listen. I’m going to try to post someone’s story once a week. If you have one to share, shoot me an email.
I am posting the first today, about stillbirth. While I have not experienced this personally, I do know the grief of multiple pregnancy losses, and I appreciate what Tara has to say:
My name is Tara Beth Warrick, I am 25 years old, I live in a small town in western North Carolina. I am a pediatric occupational therapist by vocation, a dance teacher for fun, and wife to a wonderful man. I am also a mother, but not a tangible or typical mother. This fact alone has re-shaped the lens through which I view and construct my entire life. My first baby, Scout, was stillborn on December 15, 2009. I parented by making choices while she was in the womb, and I parent her now as I make choices as to how to tell her story and give her short life purpose. I have planned a community-wide event, the first of its kind in my tiny town, for parents who have lost children via miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death. You can see more details here: http://scoutingforhope.wordpress.com/
What I want you to know is that there are millions of families around you in everyday circumstances- at the grocery store, the post office, or even in that annoying line at IKEA, who are dealing with the loss of a child. I have been overwhelmed to learn of just how many of our babies leave us too soon, and I have been somewhat taken aback at the multitudes of parents that seem to take the very presence and good health of their living children for granted.
What I want you to know is that I define 'parenting' more loosely than most. I believe that you choose how you define it, and it does not have to be directed toward a biological, living child. I am a parent, I count. Mother's Day is for me too.
What I want you to know is that though men aren't 'supposed to talk about their feelings', there are a lot of men out there that are grieving a baby. It has been interesting to learn of men in my community who are still dealing with the sting of the loss of a child from decades ago.
What I want you to know that sometimes saying nothing at all is just as harmful as saying the 'wrong thing' to a grieving friend. Your presence and attention are more appreciated than you realize. You don't have to do the standard 'send a card' or 'send flowers' song and dance. Bring a friend some groceries. Mop her floors. Ask if he just wants to go for a walk. These gestures have been so meaningful to my husband and to me. I feel that we are called to carry the burdens of those around us so that the weight isn't so overwhelming.
What I want you to know is that is has been 39 weeks since I delivered my baby and I am still in deep sorrow over my little one. I am a follower of Jesus, and I believe He has so many wounds of mine to heal, and so many lessons to teach me.
What I want you to know is that I am terribly afraid of getting pregnant and terribly afraid of never getting pregnant again. Both options seem impossible some days.
What I want you to know is that you are a valuable, human being. You have purpose in this life. You are someone's baby. Maybe you are someone's parent. I appreciate what you are and what you will be. Let's take this attitude toward each other- that we are important in each other's stories and day to day lives. Thanks for allowing me to share a brief excerpt of my journey.
What would you like me to know?