They can’t get it

Who has gathered the wind in His fists?  Proverbs 30:4, AMP


They don’t get it. They can’t get it. They can no more understand what it’s like than they can see the wind or capture a sunbeam. As human beings, we aren’t wired to comprehend the sudden, tragic death of our children. It’s as if we have been unexpectedly plunged into thick darkness and left to feel our way along in unfamiliar territory with no guard rails or flashlights. There is no data in the imagination from which to draw if you don’t have firsthand experience, and no survivor would wish that on anyone. So I don’t plan on being too hard on those who try to help from the sidelines. They will never be in the trenches of tragedy unless it strikes them personally. Perhaps a couple of personal stories will help illustrate their lack of understanding.

The first story happened a few years earlier when life was humming along on “normal” and when, naively, I did not understand the complexity of depression or the long-duration potential this dreaded disease has on the human spirit. I had developed complications after a simple surgery and needed further surgery. I wasn’t worried. But I was nervous and when I get nervous, I become a “chatty Cathy” and so I was chatting away with anyone within earshot. The doctor was delayed, but the nurses went about making the usual preparations by hooking me up to this and that. The longer the delay, the more urgent became my need to use the powder room . . . again.

Now this all happened quickly, you understand, but I will slow it down to include all the details so it makes sense. The doctor had medical residents observing at nearly every office visit so I was used to having them around and listening to the doctor explained my medical details to us both. It felt like I was on display, but I digress.  I had just told the nurse of my predicament, knowing I was making more work for her to unhook me, but she was gracious about it. I had no more asked the nurse to help me get there when a medical resident came to the foot of my bed and shyly asked, “May I watch?” I hate missing an opportunity to tease (and embarrass, I know, and I should be punished), so I responded, “I’m on my way to the powder room. Not sure watching would be a good idea.” Bless his heart. He turned beet red and quickly disappeared and as far as I know, he never returned to observe me . . . ever.

In telling this story, one does not need first hand experience to understand how the resident felt. You can instantly relate to his predicament, being so “brutally” embarrassed, can you not? Most people have had medical procedures done. Most people have been embarrassed a time or two that they can recall. And maybe there are at least a few readers who would have taken advantage of the situation, just to watch a sweet resident squirm a little.

Fast forward a few years. Life had taken an ugly turn. Sweet had turned to bitter in an instant when I got the word that our son had taken his own life. We’ve explored the emotions of tragic loss in this forum many times and we will continue to do so, for we are never finished. There will always be attempts to plummet the depths of painful loss as long as time shall last.

Friends offered to drive us to the mortuary and memory gardens to pick out things that appalled us and sign things with shaky hands that we would never choose to sign. Death had us in a vise grip. Mind was in a fog. Numbness affected sight, sound, and limbs. I ricocheted between nausea and fainting most of the time. But in the course of riding to these places to make decisions, someone said something in the car, I don’t remember what, and I laughed spontaneously, out of habit to be sure. These were friends we spent recreational time with and laughter was our entertainment, but this day, I was struck instantly with nausea.

What surprised me, however, was the response from one of the friends along for the ride. She responded to my outburst of laughter with, “Oh, that’s the friend we know.” And I heard it as, “Our old friend is back!” They didn’t get it. I was far from the friend they knew. That person had been blown to bits and was still free falling somewhere out in space. They were our close friends, but they had no idea how I reacted to laughing. Apparently they did not see my facial expression nor did they know I suddenly felt sick enough to vomit. I had to mentally talk myself down from that one; it was neither the time nor the place to be sick.

You see, they couldn’t get it. Even though they were taking us by the hand to places we wanted to kick and scream our protest, that did not help them to understand. They were wanting to draw out the usual and customary humor to break the ice and ease the tension we all were feeling . . . more likely what they were feeling. We were embalmed in a fog and not feeling at all. And to this day, I resent anyone attempting to cover up, smooth over, change the subject, or any other reaction they might have at the sight of parents’ tragic horror.

You feel this, don’t you? You understand my reaction and my protest for you have had similar reactions of your own, have you not? You could share versions of your stories and we’d all nod in agreement. Unfortunately we have been forced into getting it. We get it so much it’s hard to allow ourselves to relax our grip. Loss of a precious child to suicide is the most horrific loss and if you witnessed your child’s death on top of it all, I can’t imagine the pictures in your mind and I am so sorry for the added crushing pain you must feel. I am so sorry for the pain suicide causes those who are outliving a beloved child. I am so sorry for anyone who has lost a child from any cause. We are never prepared to lose a child. We would not be able to get it, unless, sadly, it became our horrible reality. Therefore it is all the more reason to cling to this promise:

The Sovereign Lord will destroy death forever! He will wipe away the tears from everyone’s eyes and take away the disgrace his people have suffered throughout the world. The Lord himself has spoken.  Isaiah 25:8, GNT



6 thoughts on “They can’t get it

  1. Very clear and well written. I lost a precious baby at 2 days old and that can in no way compare to your loss. You have memories and milestones that are in your heart, mind and home. I feel the pain of losing my baby girl, but I know you hurt more. I kept the anger many years. Thank you for the article/post. Blessings.

    • Thank you, Friend. We both know the loss of one’s child. No one need say more. Both our stories are tragic and we mourn the loss all our days. God designed mother’s hearts to love completely and unconditionally. I am so sorry for your pain, but I am glad this post blessed you. Please return often. Blessings, Gracie

  2. God bless you! As you I’ve lost my sweet child to suicide and have endured the well meaning comments of friends and family that have only tore at the already gushing wound in my heart. I’ve felt terrible guilt at the anger I felt and beat my self even more for those feelings. I’ve learned to forgive all. I had to. My soul cannot handle being angry for long, but your entry has helped put my mind at ease even more. Thank you so very much.

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