Common Bonds Blog

Why Do People Say Insensitive Things

There are two kinds of situations that often occur in the lives of those of us who are grieving.  I say grieving, because I feel like I really did grieve while my daughter was in the NICU. 

One is what people don’t say, and one is what people do say.

Some people are so uncomfortable with our experience and grieving individuals that they avoid us all together. 

I learned several years later while studying grief, that this is not unusual behavior. A lot of people—good people, caring people—feel so awkward about what to say when someone they love is hurting that they avoid saying anything.  They simply do not want to say the wrong thing.

Then there are those who say too much. These are the people who attempt to provide comfort by giving advice or repeating “words of comfort” or reminding us of “truths.” Someone will almost inevitably say, “Oh, you are strong/young/capable…you will make it.” Someone else says, “There are no accidents; some day all this will make sense to you.” Another says: “There’s a silver lining to every cloud.” Somebody else asserts that God has a plan and what has happened is part of that plan.

Some of these statements caused me pain or would make me feel angry.  I could not understand how this situation could be for the best, and I didn’t care whether I was strong enough to make it through.  I just really did not want to be in my NICU situation at all, I wanted a happy healthy baby.
What about those people who don’t say anything? Again, it helps to remember that this is typical behavior for many people in our society. Such behavior usually isn’t personal.
I also try to remember that I am not a perfect person and I may have offended many along the way with what I said or didn’t say.

This is what I found that did help me.  I tried to seek out people who were comfortable talking about my grief, who could understand why I felt angry, guilty, or ripped-off.  Someone who would simply listen and not necessarily try to solve my problems, just try to understand my feelings.  I hope that I have the opportunity to offer support to you, while your baby is here at the hospital.   If I do not find you; please seek me out so that I can provide a listening ear.

All my best,

Welcome to Holland

Welcome to our new Common Bonds blog. For my first blog post I decided that I wanted to share a story that really explains how I felt as a new NICU mom:

Emily Perl Kingsley

What it feels like to have a critically ill newborn:

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.