This trip I’ve had to deal with a lot of people who are clearly uncomfortable discussing Noah and his death. I know I wrote about it in “The Elephant in the Room.” That was probably the hardest day since we’ve been here. Since then we’ve seen more people willing to talk to about him, and my MIL has made an effort. It still hurts when other people don’t talk about this though. It’s exhausting not talking about him. It’s a tension that I can’t shake.
After my big cry Sunday night, I’ve been a little more understanding. My FIL has yet to ever mention Noah to me. It really bothered me at first, but I’m starting to accept it. My husband brought out pictures of Noah this week, and FIL, BIL, and MIL looked at them all with him. FIL teared up and ended up walking a way a bit to compose himself, and then tried the quick subject change method. It was jarring. I wasn’t ready to be done talking and thinking about Noah right then. But I know that it was a defense for him. It’s not that he doesn’t think about him or care, he’s just not comfortable sharing those emotions, as much as I’d like him to. I grabbed my husband and cried for a minute and BIL came over and hugged me as well. He hasn’t said anything either, but he’s there in his own way.
I read Stirrup Queen’s post on “The Unfairness of Bringing Up Loss” earlier this week. It was a subject that I had been thinking a lot about. If for whatever reason someone shows that they are uncomfortable when we bring up Noah, either through the quick subject change, or the awkward silence, or through their own emotions, what is my obligation in recognizing and acceding to that? Should I ignore their feelings and bring him up anyway? Swallow my own feelings and the stress of silence so I don’t make them uncomfortable? Which is more important, their comfort or our need? Stirrup queen comes down on the side of talking, David Sedaris who inspired her post came down on the other. Right now I’m somewhere in between. With strangers it’s easy to say to heck with whether or not they are uncomfortable and mention Noah anyways. With friends it’s harder. When they are trying so hard to avoid this conversation, can I, should I force it? Noah was here, his life, his death, our grief doesn’t go away just because it’s not mentioned. But is that a reason to force them to acknowledge him or not?