The Phenomenon of Excuses

The purpose of this post is NOT to scare anyone away from talking to us. That already happens too much. The purpose is to simply help anyone who wants to talk to us know a little more about what’s going on in our heads. We hear often that people don’t know what to say. I hope this helps.

So an interesting phenomenon has become very apparent to us in the eight months since Simon died. And it’s a frustrating, unfair phenomenon. It’s the phenomenon of excuses.

I’m not talking about us making excuses to avoid parties or other events, though that has happened. I’m not even talking about the excuses others have made to not see the Debbie Downers whose baby died, though I’m certain that has happened as well.

I’m talking about excuses for comments, words, behaviors. Those comments that sting, words that dismiss us or Simon, behaviors that confuse us and make us feel like we are unwanted.

The crazy thing is that the excuses for all of these things don’t even come from the offending person. That would be a bit more palatable. At least then we would have a chance to understand why they do, say (or don’t say) what they did.

But that’s not who makes the excuses.

The excuses come from, well, virtually everyone else.

We confide in someone that this thing someone else said hurt and what is the most common response? “Well I’m sure that’s not what he meant by that.” Or “It was probably meant to be a joke” or even “you shouldn’t take it personally, she just doesn’t think before she speaks.” Yes, I’ve heard some (or all) of these. And these excuses put us in a tough spot.

They put us in a position that we are forced to understand and empathize with a person who said or did something that shows an utter lack of understanding or empathy for us. We get chastised for taking things “the wrong way” but the person who said it doesn’t have to explain the wrong thing they said.

It’s pretty shitty to have to give everyone else the benefit of the doubt when we are the ones deeply hurt by a comment that, even if it wasn’t meant to cut, it did.

She wasn’t thinking about how it would come out? Think about it.

He’s just like that? Grow, evolve as a person.

Don’t take it personally? Not so easy when every nerve ending is on the surface and things I don’t even expect to hurt really do.

We read a book to Nolan called The Rabbit Listened. Nolan loves it. In the book, a kid is sad, and a rabbit sits next to him and simply listens. He doesn’t offer advice or criticism. He just listens. It’s really hard to confide what we are feeling to anyone. What we are looking for when we do is to listen. Let us tell you why it hurt. Let us tell you how something crushed us. Listen, and be there for us.

That’s what we need. We don’t need excuses.

Sunday Dinner

We have always wanted our Sunday dinners to be family time. A time when we make sure all of us are around the table eating together, talking and enjoying each other’s company. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Tonight it was frozen pizza.

Sunday dinner has become something else in our home. It’s still a night we gather together and eat together. It’s still a night we all enjoy each other’s company. But no matter what we do, for the rest of our lives, there will be an empty seat.

We have our family dinner with me, Tera and Nolan. And instead of having Simon sitting with us, we have a candle.

It’s a tradition we started VERY shortly after our son died. To light a candle in his perfect shattered votive. It’s a tradition that I am so glad we started and so glad we do. It allows us a dinner with Simon, and it is a time to think of him together as a family. And I’m so angry that instead of him, we have a candle.

Tonight as I sat down, it was already burning. I looked at it, and I lost it. I couldn’t stop crying. It was anger and denial and depression and a whole lot of other feelings that don’t fit the “stages of grief” that everyone seems to think you go through and get better. It was uncontrollable.

And while I was bawling, Nolan said that “when Simon gets here, he’ll sit on my lap!” He was so earnest and so proud of himself for offering up his lap. He had a big smile. And I had to tell him (as I could barely talk) that Simon isn’t coming home. That his little brother’s body stopped working and that he died. That he won’t, in fact, get to dress up as firefighters for Halloween with his brother. That his brother won’t be in the carseat next to him as we drive to the cabin. That his brother won’t get to play with him in the tub on Sunday night bath-nights.

Instead we have a candle. A fucking candle.

 

“Dads Grieve Too”

Today has been really hard, and I’m not sure why. I mean, I know why, but I’m not sure what makes today different. But it is.

Maybe it’s because today is a harder than I expected, and maybe it’s because I deserve (or need) to have days that kick my ass like today did, but the fact that today has sucked makes me want to rant a bit about something that has been bothering me for a while.

“Dads grieve too.”

I hear it all the time now. I see it on Instagram posts and Facebook pages are dedicated to the idea. There are books (or at least chapters of books) with that exact title. And on the surface it seems like a good thing to share and make sure people realize.

But here’s where my rant starts, and I apologize if it doesn’t make any damn sense, but quite frankly, this post is for me, not you.

Of course dads grieve too. And for anyone to suggest otherwise is either completely out of touch or completely insensitive. Likely both. The reason I say this is to say that there shouldn’t be a need to tell people that I have a heart and that it is shattered. I shouldn’t need to explain to people who know about Simon why I’m not so smiley or why I’m having a shitty day. Dads grieve too because -NEWSFLASH- dads are parents. Dads are people. Dads like me lost part of themselves.

I firmly believe that no one with an ounce of compassion would ever wonder why a mom who lost her child is sad, crying, grieving, broken. I would never ever question a mother’s pain, and it would be utterly asinine to do so. Hell, no one questions why a mother whale is grieving the loss of her calf. So why don’t dads get that same automatic consideration?

I didn’t carry Simon inside me for nine months. True. But I did carry him in my heart for nine months. From the instant of our embryo transfer, a part of my heart was living outside my body. I did everything everything within my power to make sure he would be happy, healthy and here. Turns out none of that mattered. For nine months, a part of me was growing, thriving, living, I just couldn’t see or feel that part of me aside from the periodic ultrasounds and the nightly kicks (once they were strong enough for me to feel.)

And now, that part of me that was living apart from me is gone.

I never got to know what it was to hold our Simon as he squirmed and wiggled around. I never got the chance to know him, to teach him, or to laugh with him. I lost a part of me.

So dads grieve too, huh?

No shit we do.