“You can be amazing you can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug” -Sara Bareilles, Brave
Words hold power. The power we assign to them. We get to decide what they mean, and we can do so on an individual basis. They can mean one thing to one person and quite another to someone else. In this situation we’re at risk for our sentiment being lost in translation, so to speak. Words convey thoughts, feelings, and emotions. With them we can tell stories and share moments in time. We can even recall memories and give those meaning as well. They can also be used to hurt. Though they may not break your bones the way we’ve been taught that sticks and stones will, sometimes words will hurt you even more. All the words in the world, all of their uses, meanings, and inferences, and sometimes we can’t seem to find a single one to do us justice.
What do we do when words escape us? How then do we convey those thoughts and feelings whelming up inside of our hearts and minds?
This week I found myself standing in front of the greeting card section of my local grocery store. I was there to buy a card to send to a friend. I wanted her to know I was thinking of her. I wanted her to know I was remembering her son’s life, the anniversary of his birth and subsequent death later that same day. I wanted her to know he is not forgotten.
I stood there, in front of the cards searching for the right one. The one to convey my sympathy, unfortunately, my empathy and also comfort to her as well. There were cards that expressed you were thinking of someone, cards of support, and cards of sympathy for loss of grandparents, parents, spouses…and even pets. Yes, pets. But there were no cards for loss of a son or daughter. Loss of pets, but not of children.
They don’t make cards for that, not that they stock at that store anyway. They don’t make words for that. When you lose a parent you are called an orphan. When you lose a spouse you are called a widow(er). The very idea of loss of a child in our society is so unthinkable, unimaginable, horrific, and taboo that we do not even have a word for it. It is literally unspeakable.
Nothing works more efficiently to keep uncomfortable, unenviable, hopefully ignorable pieces of society locked away in the shadows than lack of speech. And that’s exactly where society wants to keep it, us. Why? We’re scary. We know you want to keep us at bay. We get it. We know how daunting it is to talk about, how difficult to imagine, and truthfully, how alarming it is for you to even think to pull us from the shadows and to be forced into the light of knowledge to concede that you look just like us and in further consideration that you could, in fact, be us. After all, isn’t everyone afraid that if our light were to shine too brightly and you got too close that your wings might melt?
Nothing makes us feel like more of a monster to be hidden from than being expected to exist only in those shadows.
It’s a simple sentiment that means the entire world to parents of lost children; we want to know that you still remember. We know they are gone. You will never remind us of that fact. We live with the scars of their loss every day. We just want to know that you remember they ever were here in the first place. Not to make you uncomfortable, not to punish you, or push you away but for our own soul’s soothing. For our broken heart’s sake.
My child lived. She was a person. She mattered. I have thoughts and memories of her that permeate every day of my life.
Sing her name unto my ears and let the beauty and magic of her spirit radiate into my heart and soul.
“Say what you wanna say and let the words fall out, honestly, I wanna see you be brave” – Sara Barelilles, Brave
It is so true that there isn’t a word for loss of a child. It is very taboo. People don’t like to talk about it.