Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What to Say



Yes part of me is wondering, what to say next.  After the news of our baby girl it seems strange to casually move on to lighter topics {although I already have}, but but at the same time I can't make each and every blog post about this new turn of events ... because as it turns out, I still care about the small things ...at least right now.  I bought a new jacket last week {you know, something real practical that I can't wear until after the baby is born and I lose all the baby weight} the house could use some cleaning and watching project runway remains high on the priority list.  So as of right now, life goes on.  

And so I'm left wondering, What to say?

But there's also the part of me that wants to talk about just that, what to say... specifically what to say to  someone whose life has taken a new and drastic turn.  Not that I can speak for everyone, but I can speak for our experience thus far.  And thus far, it's tricky.  I don't want to step on some toes here so I'll tread lightly.

The thing with this kind of life altering situation is that you find yourself in a sea of vastly different and often conflicting emotions.  For example, while I feel love for this little baby of ours and have come to a certain level of acceptance, I would still never choose to have this outcome.  And while most days I'm feeling fine, I don't necessarily want others to take the news lightly and think oh she looks fine, must be no big deal.  And while my heart aches for my little girl and the obstacles she will have to face, I don't want others to pity her.  Confusing right?  I can't expect someone--anyone--to follow those emotions and thus react in the exact way I want them to in that exact moment.  Those expectations are too lofty, and simply not fair.  It seems as though I'm allowed to feel however I want but YOU just better be careful.  And as unfair as it sounds there's more than a bit of truth to that.  I find it difficult to manage my own emotions, while simultaneously mustering up enough grace to show kindness and understanding to others in the midst of my difficult circumstances.  Afterall I'm the one with the sick baby, I'm the one who is going to have my whole life changed...why should I worry about you and hurting your feelings?

And that's how I feel sometimes.  But, I know that's part of the trial--my actions and my reaction.  I'm immediately reminded of a quote by Elder Eyring, one of the 12 apostles, who said:  


When I think of that phrase 'enduring well' I always associate it with keeping the commandments.  It can be an overly simplistic view in some ways, but in reality keeping the commandments includes so many aspects of spiritual strength:  Faith, love, forgiveness, not seeking revenge, humility, sacrifice, turning to the Lord, etc.  Of course, these are my thoughts when I am at my best.  When I've had time to reflect, think and ponder.  These are not the thoughts I have in the moment of frustration when a comment has ruffled my feathers.  Thus, while I will work towards being kind, understanding and assuming the best in others during this time, there will inevitably be times where I fail.  And in actuality, I know it's not just something we'll be working on right now, but the fact is we'll probably face this dilemma the rest of Lamp's life.  This is new territory for us and it's daunting.  

Now before you start worrying Is that me?  Is she talking about me and that thing I said????  Let me just say no, it's not you.  {But it might be you, over there... just kidding}.   The point of this post is not to point fingers, but to open the conversation and hopefully a few hearts.  There are two sides to these situations and in both cases people need love and understanding.  So instead of pointing out what you shouldn't say, I thought I'd let you know some of the more helpful things you can say.   For starters there's a great article written by my friend Molly on her blog A Good Grief, that also talks about this very thing.  It's well written and really shows the perspective from both sides.  Read it here.      

Next, I think you're always safe with expressing love and support.  Just knowing that people are praying for and thinking of our little family helps.  Of course we know people love us, but it's been really uplifting to hear it expressed--whether verbally or in written form.  Additionally it's nice to be asked how we're doing.  I know there is a fear of asking too much and the worry that we don't want to talk about it, but really it feels better to know that others acknowledge the situation and the baby in general.  She is still our baby girl and her life is important regardless of the circumstances.   Lastly, I would say {and well, I guess this falls under the what-not-to-say category that I said I wouldn't go into, so sorry} while it is so tempting to want to say that one perfect thing that brings us comfort or peace or reassurance it's probably not going to happen...and that's OK.  Conclusions about what her life means or this trial/blessing/both is something that will come to us in our own time and in our own way.  {Stepping off toes now.}

I hope we're still friends.  Because in your defense, I've been there.  Something has happened to someone and I wanted to be there and say something helpful and brilliant....and in truth I just didn't know what to say.  And I'm sure they were gracious to me.  I have tried and will continue to try to remember that.  And please know that the vast majority of communication has been wonderful and lovely.  We're not upset at anyone.  We don't want anyone in particular to worry about what they did/didn't say.  In writing this my honest hope was to be helpful and informative.  I hope it came across that way.  And I thank you all again for reaching out and expressing your love and concern.  We love and appreciate you all.

Now it's your turn.  Thoughts, feelings?  Do you worry about what you say and how it came off?   Do you feel pressure to say 'the right thing' and thus avoid saying anything all together?  Do you have an experience that you draw from when talking to someone about trials?  Have you been through your own life-changing experience and a have additional perspective to share?  
  
*buy photo here

21 comments:

  1. Okay, I totally just went and read my comment that I posted to make sure I didn't say something stupid. hahah

    Great post by the way. I love blogging for the purpose of expressing ourselves, but it also opens us up to the "outside world." It seems like you are finding the right balance. I hope everyone shows you the respect that you deserve at this time.

    Thanks for sharing. I'm thinking about you and praying for your family.

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  2. I love you, and miss you, and wish that we were together:) I haven't wanted to say the wrong thing here, so I have been waiting to hear more about you guys and what is going on. Please know that we are thinking of you all the time, and Graham is lighting a candle for you and baby Lamp (and those other two crazies:) every Sunday. You are amazing!

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  3. I pretty much assume that I'm always saying the wrong thing-- but hope that the attempt is better than saying nothing at all. "it's the thought that counts", right?

    I continue to think of you and pray for your sweet family. Please keep us informed on Lamp's progress. I wonder if she knows how loved she is already, by people who haven't even met her parents? Isn't that amazing?

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  4. the older i have gotten, the more i have learned to forgive others and myself for social gaffes. 99% of the time i say dumb things out of general concern. and i like to think those percentages are close to the same for everyone else.
    i've had two experiences recently where i have learned that not everything is about me. and i unintentionally made things about me without realizing it. my intentions were to comfort and to love. and both times those sweet mothers who lost children were so loving and forgiving to me.

    thanks for your frankness and humor. i feel love when i read your blog.

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  5. Great subject to address. I do stress about it. I reread my email to you a couple of times before I sent it because I was like "hey, I don't know her well, but I really like her, but I don't know...should I send it?" I decided that if I were in this situation I would love all the love (and, duh, who doesn't love love when their going through a rial, right?)

    And I agree with what you said about concluding now. Who are we to say?

    AND it's frustrating (for me) when people say "it will be okay/fine/all work out." For some reason I don't like that because a) I know! and b) our okays might not be the same thing and how do you know it will be your kind of okay.

    (yeesh, I ramble a lot in your comment section. hope you don't mind:)

    Thanks for sharing. You've inspired me to be more sensitive about what I say, but encouraged me to say something when I might not because I don't have the perfect thing to say.

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  6. I appreciate this post and your frankness. I think I almost always fall in the category of not knowing what to say in a situation, and therefore usually say nothing. And the avoidance of the issue many times is probably worse than acknowledging it. I try to express love or support, but feel that so often I am so far from understanding what people are going through that it comes off sounding very trite. I don't think I've had really hard things happen in my life and so my experiences are not what someone might want/need to hear. I wonder when those hard things will happen to me.

    Anyway, I am thinking of you and your family which is why I've been checking your blog. I like to hear and know what's going on. I pray that you will get the love, support and understanding that you need through this trial. You already are an inspiration.

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  7. Again, your blog is fabulous. Which translates to you being fabulous :)

    I have to say that you need to be able to "grieve" this process. You should (you deserve to) take as much time as it takes for you to "get your head around" this new change in your life. Whatever you need to do, just do it. Don't worry about what others say/think. It's your life, and you (and B) are the only ones who are dealing with it on such a personal level. Don't feel like you can't write/say whatever you want. You have every right to work this through with all the help/assistance from the Lord. I don't need to remind you that no one is perfect. Take whatever time/avenue you need to reconcile this new twist to your life story.

    I've had friends go through the agony/blessing of a child being "different". I've personally put my foot in my mouth a million times. I always try to NOT do this (as I'm truly only trying to help), but I inevitibly end up doing so to SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE. I will apologize, in advance, on behalf of all those people who say/do it wrong ;)

    My final thoughts? It's truly impossible to please everyone. Do what is right for YOUR family. As long as Heavenly Father is happy with you, nothing else matters.

    P.S. I think your Baby Lamp is the luckiest little girl to be coming to such wonderful parents.

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  8. You are pretty much amazing Ames. Yep. Amazing is the right word.

    I have had a lot of experience with the receiving side of this. I never though. That my annoyance was something I needed to control, which is probably not good. So thanks for reminding me that I have a choice in the ways I react!

    However, I REALLY try not to compare myself or any situations I know of to a grieving person. In my experience, it is only annoying. I too found out my baby was sick when I only wanted to find out what the gender was, but I know that I don't "know exactly how you feel" or what you are going through. I'm sure people mean well, but for me it's never helped. Even coming from a mother of a ccms child. Our children/situations are different.

    Once I was talking to my (your former) bishop a few months after pip was born. I was telling him how hard it was to smile through these conversations, he told me "you are pretty blessed to be complaining about too much support". I try to kee. That in mind!

    Umm, I think my comment was a ramble and off topic. So good luck. I think this post probably helped a lot of people!

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  9. And by the way (thi will be shorter)

    if you are trying to tel. Me that sometimes you didn't know what to say to me during any number of our conversations, you had me totally fooled. Either that or I just plain don't believe you! I so envy your way with words! I do!

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  10. Well said. You just inspired me to contact a friend who just miscarried twins. We have all been going around acting like nothing happened to her just because none of us know what to do. Thanks for your great insights as always. Still thinking of you guys and praying for ya.:)

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  11. So i just went back and made sure I didn't say something stupid...:)
    But I am glad you posted this. I have always wanted to be that friend that is there for people and sometimes I feel like I should say something to make them feel better but put my foot in my mouth. I've learned from that. But it's so hard because you don't want them to feel like you are just saying things to say them. I hope you know that I truly to love you and am keeping you in my prayers. I'm not just saying it.
    Thanks for the post. Love ya.

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  12. Amen sister. I feel that way, too.

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  13. This was a very appropriate and relevant topic that you brought up, that anyone can benefit from! Thank you!

    sigh...I've probably come to your blog 5 times in the past week and began to write a comment, but it's just that...what do I say? (And maybe a few distractions from my girls too) I'm not one for words, so out of worry, I end up not writing or saying anything in pretty much ANY situation. (which is worse than just saying something, even if it doesn't come out exactly as I want it to, right?)
    I admit that I am one that dissects certain comments said or written into "What did they really mean?" When of course, people just love and care. When I am on the recieving end, I tend to gravitate towards the people in my life that bring me up and keep me going during difficult moments and trials. But the people that feed the "Woe is me" "Feel sorry for myself" "Lets go shopping and eat" moments are nice to have waiting for me when it's needed as well. ;)

    I have to agree with the comment made by Heidi, it was perfectly said. And describes similarities of what I have experienced as well. I have been forgiven time after time by people that I look up to the most. The more I learn and live, the easier it is for me to be a little bit quicker to forgive.
    hugs!

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  14. I think we all worry about what to say, because, even if we have "been in your shoes," I think deep down most of us know that we haven't really.

    When my brother died, I found out a few things about the topic that I've kept with me. First, it never helps to say "I understand what you're going through," even if that may be true. Second, it's better to say SOMETHING than nothing.

    Usually, I still struggle with saying something, just cause I feel dumb. So often I start with, "I don't know the right thing to say, but I wanted to say something," and then I feel better about my words not being perfect.

    We're praying for you guys.

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  15. I just wanted to let you know that my thoughts and prayers are with you.

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  16. I just have to say, I wrote you that email before i saw this post :)

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  17. I've been meaning to comment for a couple days sorry... first off, thanks everyone for your kind comments. I was worried that it may not be well received.

    And I really wanted to address each and every comment individually, but I don't think I'm going to get to it. I do want to thank you for your comments and know that I read them all, and appreciate the perspectives shared, the encouragement and understanding. Seriously...it really warms my heart to feel the love and support. Thanks.

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  18. I think often times people say what they themselves would find comforting, but since we're all so unique and have had such vastly different experiences sometimes what would really help one person comes off as annoying to another.

    I admire your candid and honest blog about this subject... it's really helpful to all of us. I also think that it's so admirable- truly Christlike in fact- that you're able to look beyond the words/actions of those that fail to say the right things and see right through to the intentions, which of course are pure and good.

    I appreciated the great links that provide some insight as to what to say and what not to say in difficult situations- like a lot of things, these skills aren't always intuitive and take some real learning and study. I always feel like a slightly better person after reading your blog and really appreciate your wisdom, honestly, and love. You are amazing.

    We'll be praying for you and keeping your family in our prayers tomorrow.

    Love you dearly-

    Erin

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  19. What a beautiful and honest post. I loved your comment as well - love and support - that is exactly what you need and we all need. I don't want to say anything "wrong" but I just wanted to share an experience. After the birth of my third, I started experiencing a lot of severe anxiety. I felt really low. I mustered up some courage and emailed my closest friends and said, I just need some love today. And everyone was willing to give it. Just remember on your hard days, there are people who may not know what to say, but if you reach out to them (as you have done so well on your blog already) then they can respond with exactly what you need.

    My prayers will be with you and your little family, even though I only know one of you (your spouse). Can I mail you something cheerful? email me your address at annaslow(at)gmail.com (you can email me to test me out first, before sending your address, just to make sure I'm normal - but I promise I am)

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  20. i've been thinking about you and everything going on in your life lately. i read your -life changing-post a while ago, but i wasn't sure what to say. i feel like you have a good perspective on everything & you should know i think your spirit is beautiful. i wish you lived near by so when the time comes i could physically help you out. (& so i could get to know you better)

    my prayers are with you to give you the strength needed to get you through all of this.

    p.s. you are a wonderful writer

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  21. That photograph reminds me of your artwork. lovely.

    I try to do something and say something, but I always mess up. I cried and cried when I did the first fundraiser because one of the women I was helping said that it was stressing her out and not worth it, among other things.

    I was really really sad. Her words hurt me. I don't think she had a clue to how much work I was doing to pull it off. no clue.

    But she apologized and I love her and she did the second fundraiser with me again. It was much better the second time.

    anyway, it's always hard.

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