“What NOT to Expect from a Bereaved Parent”

A few days ago I was blessed with another memory I didn’t know I had even forgotten. I was at Target and who would have known; Not only did I find a few fun Christmas items for 70% off, but I left the store with a memory of Grant that may have stayed in the forgotten file of the precedent. I heard a familiar soft voice from the past say, “hello, Kim”, from behind. We had our small talk, but this unexpected encounter was a gift. In our conversation he mentioned his son was going to be a teenager. For most this mention would have the response of Oh how nice or other light-hearted ‘approaching the teen years’ comments. For me, that one single comment brought back an entire day for me. I remember when their bundle of joy was about to be born. Shortly before I remember a day Steve and I spent with our Grant 13 years ago. I may not have remembered… I may have forgotten about this day… A friendly hello, a comment, a trip to Target was a gift. Not of merchandise, not something that came home in a bag; but the gift of a day… An entire day spent with my boy. People may sometimes think it’s uncomfortable to talk to a bereaving parent especially when it’s been a long period of time or the only time since the loss. I understand their loss of words to say. I see it in their face… Sometimes I find myself ducking and running just for their sake because I know it’s hard to know how to have small talk unexpectedly especially with me. I’ve been there and I do understand. To be honest, there could be a whole book written about “What to Expect from a Bereaved Parent” because you never know what to expect. Maybe what the book should really be titled is “What NOT to Expect from a Bereaved Parent”. I will never apologize for my behavior while I grieve. I will apologize for the feelings I have hurt. I know I have… I would only ask for understanding. I have hurt deeper than I ever thought possible… Some days I thought I’d loss all dignity; crying, endless blubbering, cursing the heavens, and time after time a sleeve full of snot. I’ve allowed myself to do whatever I needed to feel better. I guess dignity would be waking up a whole person, not in maintaining appearance. often at the end of a long work day I’ve exhausted all the energy I have, but I do want people to know/understand. All the beautiful cards, thoughtful voice mails and messages, kind meaningful words of encouragement meant more than you will ever know. In fact, there were so many I found myself reading without replying. Sometimes it’s hard to respond, but they were the strength I needed to get through many days. So my book would read… Expect nothing from the bereaved… They’re reading it… they’re listening!!! It’s what is getting them though the day. It just hurts so much and it’s hard to respond. I have no regrets for how I handle grief. It’s not something always in your control. Loving and reaching out to someone who has lost a child or a loved one is sometimes a one way message, but a message that matters. Conversations, small talk, walking down memory lane; these moments matters. Any small talk about Grant matters to me. You may have a memory of him that I never knew or had forgotten. That’s a gift… The greatest gift I could be given. What I could only wish for my 50th birthday gift is 50 memories of my Grant; which would be the best gift I could ever ask for. A simple trip to Target was a gift. Thank you, Scott. You gave me a day… a memory I can treasure.

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