An open letter to Family and Friends,
Summer. It’s that time of year again. A season of celebrations!
Graduations. Wedding Showers. Weddings. 4th of July Parties. Family Reunion Picnics.
Lots of excitement and joy packed into a few months. As you create your invitation lists, you may pause as you consider inviting us because we have children who died. Concern about whether or not we will be comfortable makes you hesitate as you send your invitations.
You may wonder:
- Will attending the shower make us miss our daughters?
- Will we get emotional and cry at graduations?
- Will we be more sad than happy at your daughters’ weddings?
- Do you say anything to us about how sad we may feel?
- Do you ask us any questions about whether or not the event triggers our grief?
These are all real concerns.
In spite of your inability to know the answers, I encourage you – invite us!
Pain and joy coexist.
Please invite us, parents who lost our children, to your joyful celebrations.
Through the deep loss of my 15 year old daughter, one key thing I’ve learned about myself is that I don’t want other people making decisions for me.
You may want to do what is best for us, but please let us decide whether or not we want to attend the shower, wedding or graduation party!
One of the things I don’t think most people understand is this fact: After the loss of a child, there is a large ripple of losses. We not only lose our child, we lose connections that our child gave us. In addition to these connections, other relationships may end. Some of us are isolated from family and friends who are threatened by our grief. (These people are not mean-spirited. They may have a real fear and anxiety about feeling uncomfortable around those who mourn.)
So, please don’t take our choice of celebrating with you away from us.
If you eliminate the option for us, you are really doing what is most comfortable for you – not us.
As bereaved parents, we still love our friends and family and want to celebrate with you!
It is possible to feel sadness and joy at the same time.
For example, yesterday, I was happy to celebrate the upcoming wedding of one of my dearest friend’s daughters. I’ve know this sweet bride-to-be since she was born. Now, 26 years later so much of life has changed, but my friendship with her mother has endured. I was incredibly honored and grateful to be present at this special occasion.
Were there moments I was sad? You bet.
As I watched the young women laughing and opening gifts, it hurt knowing my daughter didn’t have the opportunity to be a bridesmaid or bride.
During picture time, my beautiful friend came up to me, put both arms around me and said, “I’m so glad you are here; I was wondering how you’d feel.” These words of acknowledgment were so incredibly sweet. My heart was touched. I will always remember that moment – that in the midst of an important day, she really saw me.
You know what family and friends? As grieving parents, we’ve already handled the worst there is to handle.
I ask you: Please give us the opportunity to decide whether or not we attend a party or event. Contributing to your life may be the very thing we need.
Please Invite Us!
A Grieving Mom