Thursday, January 26, 2012

Answering And Controlling Difficult Questions

We’ve all heard the expression about “triggers”. Triggers are those “things” that are said or happen that in a moment throw us backwards on this grief journey, making us feel as though our hearts are being ripped apart again and can cause the flood gates to open wide.

Triggers always seem to happen when we least expect them – in a moment of quiet. Don't misunderstand me - when moments of quiet happen it doesn't mean that we have forgotten that our child had died, we all know that there is no way we can or will ever forget that fact But as time goes on there are moments when our minds and bodies take a moment out to “be quiet and regroup”.. And then wham – something ‘triggers” those grief emotions that we try so hard to suppress, and we find ourselves sliding down the slippery slope of grief.

One of those triggers, is a question that can be heart wrenching – always asked innocently during idle chit chat – it is the dreaded question of “how many children do you have”…
Know that the first several (or even several hundred) times that this question is asked it will almost always take your breath away.. So like so many things in life that we prepare for, think about the question and consider how you might be comfortable answering it.

Many parents will say that as time moves forward or depending on the occasion when the question is asked, they may even change their answers. No doubt, how the question is answered, will depends on your situation at the time. How you answer will also vary on who asks you the question and most importantly, on how you are feeling at the moment the question is asked..

Parents often say they feel guilty and can't bear to deny their child or children's existence so they give the total number of pregnancies or children they’ve had, never making any mention of a miscarriage, stillbirth or the child or children who have died..

For parents who may have lost their only child or tragically lost all their children, they may say: “My daughter or son died”, or “My children died” or, they may simply answer "None" not wanting to have to explain. Some might say "I had one daughter or son."

Their will be times, depending on how the question is answered, that the person asking, might then ask you to tell your story. When you are having a bad day and do not want to answer further questions, you might reply, "Thank you for caring enough to ask, but this has not been a good day for me. I really cannot talk about it."

The question might vary - there may be a time when someone will ask “I heard your son or daughter died, what happened?" Again, if you’d rather not answer or explain, there is nothing wrong with saying “Thank you for caring enough to ask, but this has not been a good day for me. I really cannot talk about it."

Teaching and giving many presentations over the years have taught me to be prepared and I admit I’ve relied on a skill learned long ago, and that is “I practiced a few stock response to these and other frightening situations relating to my children’s deaths” which have helped me stay in control for the moment at hand.. That doesn’t mean that once I walk away the flood gates don’t open, but for the moment I feel in control.

No, we can’t change the fact that our children aren’t with us any longer, but I think it helps us during this journey thru grief to be able to control some situations. Just like this grief journey is very different for each and every one of us, we each need to find our own ways of doing what works for us, that allows us to feel “in control” …

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