Judging how people should or should not grieve is a hot topic this week. And a huge life lesson. One news show even had a tag line that read “Grief on Trial”… this discussion is heating up because of the father in Georgia who “forgot” his baby in the backseat of his car while he went to work. Okay, so it has unfortunately happened nearly 40 times in the past year in our country people leaving kids in hot cars. I cannot figure out how someone forgets that their baby is in the car and then go off and leave them – especially during the summer when it is HOT…and in this case within six minutes of taking the baby out to breakfast. But the commentators were discussing how the father and now the mother are being judged by their behavior…and how everyone grieves differently. I always say that people grieve differently and that we should not judge one another. The defense attorney who was commenting on this case of course tried to defend the father’s lack of emotion…. but how can anyone defend a mother who shows no emotion and who said that she wouldn’t want her child back if she could make that happen? Then, the story went on to use Casey Anthony as another example of a sad mother whose child died and who was judged because she didn’t cry and grieve in the way that most people considered “normal.” The report included a clip of the grief expert who took the stand and testified for Anthony saying that she was likely acting out her grief in her own way when she was partying with her friends while her child was allegedly missing for a month before she reported her missing and then even after they found the baby dead in the woods near her mother’s house. These are two really bad examples of how everyone grieves in his or her own way. I know that I am doing my soap box thing again but I was extremely offended that CNN used criminals who killed their children in this story. Casey Anthony may have gotten off but it is my opinion that she was guilty and should be rotting in jail…and I also believe that the evidence is stacking up against the couple in Georgia — pointing to an intentional death of that sweet little baby boy in the most inhumane way, possibly for insurance money and because they didn’t want to parent any more.
When my son died I would have given anything including my own life to let him live and get the opportunity to grow up. I have never met a parent who doesn’t feel the same way no matter how old or young the child was at the time of death.
A nurse that had cared for my son Cory came to visit Brie and I about a week or so after he died. She meant well. I shared a story with her about a dream “visit” Cory made to his sister. It was a reassuring visit where he told Brie that he would always watch over her…he apologized for not being there for her in physical body. He told her how much he loved her. She felt so much better afterwards. Well, the next day at the hospital during grand rounds we became the topic of discussion and this nurse’s assessment was that Brie and I were not grieving properly because we weren’t sobbing throughout the visit. And she described Brie’s visit from Cory as a “night terror”. I heard about it a few days later and I was understandably quite annoyed that this woman accepted my hospitality and then judged us harshly based on her own belief system. First of all, I didn’t cry in front of anyone but my closest friends and my mom back then. Also, I slept next to Cory’s bed on the floor for almost six weeks. I was too exhausted to cry so soon after his death. Finally, just because her belief system didn’t match mine in that she didn’t believe that Brie’s dream visit was “real” but took a beautiful reassuring lovely personal account of what my daughter had experienced and how it had helped Brie cope with her brother’s death and interpreted it as a night terror. Apparently those are a lot worse than a nightmare. A life lesson I hadn’t learned up until then. I did eventually forgive her for what had happened. She didn’t understand that her biased interpretation was hurtful.
I hope this hasn’t happened to any of you grievers who are reading this blog. But if it has I have your back. Tell whomever did this to you to read my blog. I will be happy to let him or her know that judging others doesn’t do anyone any good. You shouldn’t waste your time and energy comparing your grief to others. It is what it is… So, if you are one of those who are inclined to judge how someone else grieves — please listen and learn—you are doing so through your own biases. Ask yourself why you have this urge to judge or compare. Grief is personal. Try to give others the benefit of the doubt…unless of course they just bought a life insurance policy for their baby…and looked up how long it takes for a dog to die in a hot car a few days before absent mindedly leaving said baby in a hot oven-like car. So, even though I am really ticked off at CNN’s report, it was a good reminder that we should not judge another’s reaction to grief … but let’s not be stupid about it either.