In the days and weeks after my son passed away, we had a constant stream of people in our house. Sometimes there would be nowhere to sit. Friends would send food as cooking in the house is traditionally not recommended until the cremation has taken place. Sometimes I would tire, but mostly I would be very grateful for these visitors – familiar, friendly, kind faces trying their best to see us through this treacherous reality. Just having them around was comforting. They didn’t have to say or do anything. Not once did I feel like anyone was intruding on anything.
Some of our English friends found this interestingly different from what they were used to. They really saw the beauty in it – a sense of community and collective strength. Crying, hugging, talking about him, drinking tea, having meals and sometimes even laughing and singing together.
Would I really have liked to be left alone when I was so fragile and distraught? I don’t think so. My mother really got that. Being alone was nearly impossible for me. It meant having to face the horror of it without any buffers. I couldn’t do it even after 3-4 months.
Some of the other bereaved parents have shared the same sentiment. It’s not good to be left alone at such a difficult time. It’s nice to be asked by a friend or a colleague to meet up for coffee or go for a walk. There is not much anyone can say to make it much worse than it already is but there are many ways of making it a little bit more bearable. Once again, it comes down to reaching out.
This week I saw my mortgage advisor. We have known each other for at least 4 years. He knew about my son’s death but for some reason he couldn’t acknowledge it. I am sure it is not because he doesn’t feel terrible about it but I wonder what stopped him. Is it really a cultural thing or is it the general discomfort with the issue of mortality or the fear of saying the wrong thing or the fact that nearly a year has gone by since it happened? Whatever it is, it is unnecessary. Saying, “I am sorry you lost your child” is human. Even after 11 months have passed. In this case, time means nothing.