To speak or not to speak

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?

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7 thoughts on “To speak or not to speak

  1. When I bring up my child who has died and people shut down or shy away it pisses me off, and so I say his name MORE, and talk about him MORE. Other people can suck it up as far as I’m concerned.

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your Noah.

  2. This is hard and I don’t know the answer either. My FIL has never mentioned my Luke to me either and he told my husband that he didn’t want to see the pictures, which made me really angry. It’s his first and only grandson, how can he not want to see him? But some people just don’t know how to do this I guess. I say you do what you need to do to heal and to honor your son.

  3. Can you ask him privately how he feels? I was,annoyed with some of my husband’s family for not calling me, but it turned out that they had gotten the impression from someone else that I didn’t want to be disturbed. Once we sorted the misunderstanding out, they texted, called, emailed, asked to see photos.. they’ve been great.

    But then other people are selfish to the point of sociopathic, and I say do what makes you the most comfortable in those cases, coz they won’t notice either way so why not right?

  4. I’m a quiet, introverted person by nature, but I say that if you need to talk about Noah, so be it. If these people are your friends and family, then they should understand your need to talk. Their discomfort should take a back seat to your grieving.

    As I mentioned in my other comment, a lot of people shied away from talking about my mom with me after she died. All I wanted to do was talk about her! When I found someone who would really, truly listen to me and let me talk about all the nitty gritty, I wouldn’t shut up. I’d ugly cry with them and talk about her death and how I was feeling — all the scary, uncomfortable parts of grief. Some of these people surprised me because we weren’t overly close, but they were there for me when I needed them. At the very least, keep writing about him and how you’re feeling. Writing can be very cathartic.

  5. A woman at my office had a son who committed suicide. We talk about him often. It makes her feel better that people “remember” even though we’ve never even met him. (and oddly, I’ve started to feel like I know this kid and his past, that’s probably a good thing.)

    No one should feel uncomfortable when you talk about your child. You need to, he’s a part of your family now and forever. (but I will say I think the “uncomfortable” is that they have absolutely no idea what to say to you. And THAT makes them uncomfortable because they feel like a failure in the feelings department.)

    You lost a baby. I cannot imagine that, not now and not way back then (mine range from 18 to 25) I don’t know you and have no idea how I ended up here but I truly wish you and your family the best and I hope you find a way to recover as best you can from this monumental loss in your life. My biggest fear – I’m so sorry you have to go through this.

    Again, I am truly sorry for the loss of your beautiful baby boy.

  6. Personally, I’m so glad when people share their loss with me. I’m grateful when they just talk. I often say less because really what words are there to empathize with your grief deeply enough? But I’m always glad when people speak of those they miss. I’m glad to listen, be allowed a window into your life.

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