Be the things you loved most about the people who are gone.
One of my favorite things about Caleb was his dry wit that dripped with sarcasm and another was his fearlessness to say what he was thinking. So, with this in mind and in his honor, I use his strength to highlight the need to support the grieving.
Caleb was always fearless. At four years old, he climbed a bookcase at his daycare and fell, causing him to bite through his lower lip. I took him to the urgent care facility and the doctor tried to stitch it. Caleb would have none of it! He was repeatedly yelling at the doc, “You’re hurting me! You’re hurting me!” The doctor could not stitch with him yelling because of the lip moving. We tried to get him to calm down, but as soon as the needle went in for a stitch, despite the local anesthesia, he would yell. A nurse swaddled him in a blanket, strapped him down, cradled the sides of his head and I held his forehead. We explained what was happening, and he still voiced his objections. I told him it was going to hurt until we got him stitched up. He then allowed us to finish.
That fall did not deter him. Not long after, he climbed on the outside of a slide at daycare and fell, fracturing his arm. Then in kindergarten, he fractured it again on the monkey bars. The medical staff became suspicious of his many injuries and started questioning Caleb. He told them how it happened. Then they started pushing, probing, trying to see if we had anything to do with it. He asked them if they were stupid because he already told them what happened!
When Caleb was about 10 years old, he confronted his grandparents because he felt they did not visit with him nearly as much as they did other grandchildren. That is just who he was. He had a keen sense of justice and when something did not align with what he thought was right, he would speak up!
WHY DO PEOPLE LEAVE
Ten days after Caleb died, all support from people who knew Caleb suddenly ceased for quite some time. Very few resumed months later. Despite all of my begging for relationships with people who knew Caleb, people do not want to talk. I had only two people tell me anything this year about Caleb and one of those was from I person I have never met. That’s as much or more than any of the five years. This unknown person was also one of two who also contacted me last year.
I get that it can be difficult for people to be reminded he existed. Believe me, I get it! I am reminded many times a day! However, I really do not understand cutting off all contact. Is it that difficult to listen to someone you love? Perhaps I misread the situation, and it was only I who loved.
I thought more would return after a year or two, but it is has been over five years. I now have a great support network consisting of people who did not know Caleb well. They are fantastic, but I wish they had Caleb’s stories or some connection to him.
I am not sure what surprised me more: that my people disappeared or that this phenomenon is so common. I have heard and read many similar accounts of friends or family refusing to support the grieving. Some people’s circle draws in close and is supportive and caring, others draw away.
SUPPORT THE GRIEVING
I have tried to understand why this happens. Hurdles like distance, which I thought would be a big factor, seems to not be an issue for many. Having a few people pull away seems likely, but not entire groups. Yet it is common.
If you are close to someone experiencing a profound loss and you do not know how to support the grieving, go back and read my posts: Anyone?, Useless Platitudes, Reach Into life . Also, Google is there to help as well. The first thing, and if you can do nothing else, is just be there and listen. If you do not think it should be such a terrible loss, sympathize with the person because it is a horrible loss to them. I may have no love lost when someone’s pet dies, but I understand they lost a friend and companion, and I hurt with them over their loss.
I want to help others experiencing profound loss and social rejection to feel heard, accepted, and loved. If you know of ways this can be accomplished, I am eagerly listening.