In this journey of grief, there have been ridiculous questions that I have been asked. I call them ridiculous because they sound both foolish and insensitive. They certainly, if you ask me, do not come from a ‘good place’. I’d like to highlight two of the questions I have received.
I once met someone, and all I had known was his first name. We hadn’t even been introduced to each other, but our names had been mentioned in a group setting. It was barely 4 months since I’d lost my lovely son, Jason. And so there was a break, and people would mingle and talk.
He came up to me, and after shaking and holding my hand (something I’m not fond of), he had the audacity to ask me, “What advantages have come from losing your son?” And my mind went blank. Advantages? Are you kidding me? Are you okay? Who are you? Where do you come from? I don’t know you from Adam, and here you are asking such a question… you have no right or place in my life to ask anything of that sort, but that exact question????
Exactly how is a mourning mother supposed to answer such a question, to respond to such a remark? And, really, not that there’s a ‘right’ time to ask about ‘advantages’ from such a sad happening, but barely 4 months on? We haven’t even finished with all the paperwork!!
And so that was weird. I tried to be polite and got myself away from his presence, far far away. I thought he didn’t get it. He was single, and certainly not a parent, let alone a mother. He was a guy. So I don’t know whether it’s a ‘guy thing’ or not, but please, please, do NOT ask me that, or any other mourning person for that matter. It’s just out of place.
The second one I got was from a lady, a married lady. And she went into all these series of questions that she must have been lining up for a while. How am I doing, how’s everything… and yes, how’s one supposed to respond to ‘how’s everything?’ That’s a story for another day. Anyway, she went on to more or less the same kind of questioning.
“So what good has come out of this? What benefits have you received?” Really? What’s wrong with people who ask such questions? I simply don’t get it. But those are certainly terrible questions to ask someone who is in mourning. And especially someone who’s lost a child. Seriously, don’t ask that.
There are better questions to ask. Like, “How can I pray for you? How can I help you? Do you need me to help you clean the house? Do you need me to run an errand for you?” Something practical like that. And unless you’re a close friend, stop trying to get into the details of what happened. Wait. Maybe become a friend first. Or ask those questions to someone who is not me, but is maybe around me. But not me. Not me. No. I won’t answer you. And you’ll throw me back to that sad, sad place. And now I’ll even be angry and frustrated at you. And depending on the season of mourning, I’ll begin to ask myself why I don’t see the ‘advantages, benefits and blessings’ just yet.
So yes, spare us all mums who’ve lost our children, or even just our loved ones, such questions. Be silent, hug us, say you’re thinking about us and praying for us, but if those are your thoughts, please keep them to yourself.