It is New Year's day morning and so many have wished me and my family well for 2013. I have wished many good health, peace and joy for 2013. But everytime someone wishes me and my family well for the New Year I mentally rewrite their good wishes -they mean well, really want me to be happy and are not suggesting that I can ever be as happy as I would have been with Casey here, but that to the extent that I am able, really do want me to be happy and do want the best for me given what has happened.
That is what I do today three and one-half years after Casey's death-mentally rewrite others' statements to supply a "missing ingedient" so I do not question their compassion and ability to empathize.
I remember closer to Casey's death being angry at those who would wish me well, for how could I be well, or how could I want to be well, without Casey here. Didn't they understand that? Did they even try to understand how every day was filled with such pain, anger,sadness and just feeling so different from almost everyone else? What was wrong with them! Contemplating being happy with my child dead was not conceivable.
So that was a while ago and things are a little easier now as I have learned to do the mental rewrite which supplies a "missing ingredient" in others' messages. But is that fair of me-to judge anothers' statement as missing something because it did not satisfy my needs? Sometimes I feel like I am entitled to some leeway because of what I have suffered, i.e. "cut me some slack." But that is not at all helpful when it comes to improving the dialogue of loss-how we think, feel, communicate, comfort, understand and try to empathize following terrible losses, for that is a two-way dialogue and requires me, as someone who has suffered a loss, to also be understanding of those who do not know what to do or say to comfort those who have suffered such losses. So in response to genuine New Year's good wishes I have responded with anger, by mentally rewriting and supplying missing ingredients, by not being sensitive enough to just how difficult it can be to comfort others, and by silently being critical of attempts to comfort that did not meet my standard.
Could it be my responsibilty now, afer several years of mourning, to help others understand how their statements may be less than helpful in an attempt to improve the dialogue of loss, but also to suggest what might be helpful from my perspective? If so...
I am thinking of you and Casey as this new year begins, knowing that I can not understand how difficult it is for you and your family. I am not sure of what to do or say to help so please tell me-I am willing to listen and learn. Allow me to help. It is my hope that when you think of Casey, those memories may bring a smile or even a laugh. Know that as a result being witness to your suffering and your family's suffering, I am trying to value family and friendships more and not take for granted the precious gifts of friendship, love, health, and life.