genuine care or mere curiosity October 14, 2010Posted by guinever in family, grief, healing, life, loss.
What follows is something I wrote in April of 2008 and am just now getting around to publishing it.
As life continues to march on after the death of my daughter, I encounter people who didn’t know Abby. When strangers ask me about it, I merely tell them she died in an accident. If pressed for more information, I say what type of accident. I don’t really give any details if I don’t know the person well.
I especially enjoy talking about my daughter’s life–both her short time on earth as well as the eternity that she has started in heaven without me. I don’t mind talking about my daughter’s death. When asked how Abby died, I quickly process the request and the person making it. I need to trust the person if I’m going to tell my story. If he/she has a genuine interest in me and my well-being, I proceed. The reaction is usually one of total compassion that includes tears, a hug, prayer, and perhaps disbelief. I welcome a listening ear from someone who cares.
But if I don’t know the person very well or if I think the request comes from mere curiosity rather than a genuine care for me and my family, then I won’t tell my story. I’m vulnerable and don’t want to get hurt. I told my story to the wrong person last week.
I mean, I tried to tell my story. When I told her I don’t mind talking about it, she asked me if Abby had been sick. (this is a common question and I don’t mind it at all), but when I told her that she died in an accident, she said that her interest lies in illness and death caused by vaccines. I should have stopped talking right there.
But I didn’t. I continued my story. When I told her a couple details, she said,
No wonder why it’s so hard for you.
I include this picture from the funeral as an illustration as to why “it’s so hard for me.” My daughter’s body was in a casket. It doesn’t matter how she got there. Just that she’s there. Still there.
And why did this person think “it” was so hard for me?
Because I asked a few people to pray for me as the third anniversary of her death approached? It was the season that was more difficult than others and I asked for prayer. Usually people tell me how well I’m doing. I’m living life and getting out and mothering my children all the while living with great loss.
how to be insensitive to someone who has lost a loved one
So I continued my story. I’m not exactly sure why I continued. I guess I was as insensitive to her needs as she was to mine, meaning I should have picked up on the fact that she wasn’t interested in listening to how my child died since it wasn’t the kind of death that she likes to hear about.
Maybe if I kept talking, she would be interested in MY story that she asked to hear?? I don’t know. The third time she said this, I said, “Well, I can’t help you with that because that’s not how she died.”