A recent conversation and a visit to my daughter's grave with a really good friend prompted this entry. It's an attempt to answer some very common questions (both spoken and unspoken) that face the loved ones of families like ours who are missing a child.
What helps, what doesn't? What are the right things to say and the wrong things to do? How can you offer the support that your soul longs to give in a situation that your brain can't comprehend?
First, love us. Love us in an honest way, don't be afraid. Don't feel compelled to use words, sometimes we just need you to sit with us in silence. At the same time, don't be afraid to tell us you feel helpless, speechless, unsure of what to do. Your presence is often enough.
We don't expect anything, there are no obligations. Be confident that you know us. You've celebrated our victories and loved us through other types of hurts. If you look at us with sincerity and see the role that our missing child plays in our lives, you are likely to want to honor her life as well. Purely by the nature of who we are to you.
Ask questions. We want to tell you how tiny she was, what our time was like with her. How perfect her toes and eyebrows were. It is impossible for us to instill a remembrance in you, if you never met her. But we can share her with you and give you a sense of who she was and the meaningful purpose of her short life.
Remember that it's ok to laugh with us, as well as cry. We still have a full range of emotions, not just the sad ones. A little humor, a touch to our shoulders and a warm hug go a long way.
For those who try, thank you. It takes courage to step outside of yourself in such a desperate time. It's the simple things that mean the most. Thank you for reaching out to us. Give us time, we'll gather strength. We'll never get over it, we're not supposed to. But we'll get through. With you. If you'll just be there.