Some People Know Just What to Say…

by Nikki Mark

I have a doctor whose office is extremely busy. For the first two years that I saw her, it was nearly impossible to get an appointment earlier than three months out. When I did, the wait in her lobby was often an hour, or longer. Granted, she delivers babies, so I understood why her schedule was unpredictable and why emergencies took precedence over a routine annual check-up.

Still, one afternoon, after driving twenty-five minutes across town to see her and waiting in her lobby for another ninety, I made up my mind that my appointment with her that day would be my last.

I’ll find a doctor closer to my house who isn’t so popular, I assured myself.

Even though she was considered among the best in her field, and I personally liked her a lot, I valued my time and wanted to spend less of it in her office.

When it was finally my turn to see her that day and a nurse brought me into the examination room, however, my plan blew up.

My doctor walked in, gave me a hug and started talking about my eldest son who had passed away less than a year earlier. Given I hadn’t yet spoken to her about my family’s loss, I was thrown off-guard.

She proceeded to share thoughtful information that I hadn’t known, like how kids across the city were honoring my son and how his life was impacting them. After exchanging some heartfelt tears, she inquired about the rest of my family and took a sincere interest in my approach to healing and overall well-being.

Suddenly, this very busy doctor wasn’t just talented and busy, she was also human.

“Another patient once told me that talking to parents about their children who have passed away is one of the best ways people can support them through this kind of devastating loss… is that true for you?” she asked.

Stunned by the honesty and curiosity with which she delivered this question, I caught my breath and acknowledged that it was.

It was in that moment when I decided that not only would I gladly wait another 90 minutes to see this doctor, but I was now her patient for life!

Today, nearly four years later, I have learned to smile again. To genuinely laugh again. And to find an increasingly number of joyful moments again. And my doctor, without any prompting or grumbling from me, revamped her appointment system to reduce wait times and ensure that her front office team ran efficiently. Still, despite our evolvement, every year when I walk into her office, she never fails to give me the only thing I really crave, a few minutes to talk about my son.

This doctor knows something very important that most parents who have ever lost a child want everyone to know:

No matter how happy we seem on any given day; no matter how far our lives may have come; and no matter how much the world keeps spinning and we keep moving forward, we always want you to remember the children we have lost and let us know when you do.

Parents who have lost children understand that you have your own busy lives. They appreciate that you have your own family rituals. And they would never want their problem to be yours. But I’m telling you, they want you to check in on them and their families every now and then. They want you to share any thoughts or memories that you may have about their child on any given day. They want you to support whatever causes may honor their children and are near and dear to their hearts. And they want to know that you know their loss is forever and that like them, you will never ever forget.

It is true that there are parents who are so grief-ridden that they simply can’t talk about the children they have lost. It is also true that specific cultures grieve and honor their own differently, and that certain generations get very uncomfortable talking about loss, so they simply don’t.

But I’m telling you, most, if not all, of the parents I know who have lost a child in the last twenty years appreciate it when you speak to them the way my doctor speaks to me: For just a few minutes; by any means possible (phone, in person, social media, handwritten cards, text, etc.); and with sincerity, compassion and most of all, love.

If you fear that by talking about our children you will upset us and make us cry, don’t. We already carry our grief and cry in solitude all the time. And even if your conversation does spark some tears, know that they are undoubtedly mixed with immense gratitude.

Gratitude for your compassion. Gratitude for your friendship.  And gratitude that you opened your heart long enough to help heal ours, from the inside-out.

PS: If you want to meet this amazing doctor, join me on Instagram to hear her perspective on this!

If there is someone in your life who knows just what to say, please share it in the comment section below because we get stronger when we heal together.

8 thoughts on “Some People Know Just What to Say…”

  1. Brought tears to my eyes reading this. It’s been 24 years since we lost our 24 year old son, and I only occasionally hear his name mentioned by my husband or older son. The pain and tears are always just below the surface. You never stop loving and missing your child who left too soon.
    My deepest condolences to you. I wish you the best on this journey. And I am happy that I found you!
    Take good care.

    Reply
    • I thought I replied to this but now I’m not seeing my earlier response…I agree…we’ll never stop loving and missing our children. I talk to my child all the time – as crazy as it sounds- and it makes me feel like we are still growing and learning together. I know I can’t talk to others about him all the time so I just talk to him directly…ha. Thank you for checking in. I’m only 5 years into the healing journey so hearing you are at 24 years is very inspirational for me. Thank you❤️

      Reply
      • Just came across your story on FB. 25 years ago our oldest daughter died in her sleep at age 20 after having chest pains. Initial autopsy result said inconclusive. I insisted that I needed to have an answer! Further testing revealed viral myocarditis. We still needed answers….what caused this? Consulted a pediatric cardiologist, found a hospital that was doing research…..finally accepted the answer that no one knew why. And yes, still tears 25 years later. I talked to her, wrote letters to her (in a blank book that she had given me for mother’s day that year), felt like she was answering me in a part of my brain. Gave meaning to random signs & things. Lots of what ifs yet….so glad to have found your site…will be following.

        Reply
  2. I just came across this post and information on healing and grief. It’s just been a year and a month since I lost my 24 year old son to suicide. He is my youngest child out of six, and my whole family including grandkids feel his loss so deeply. We were as close as any mom and son could be. I love him so much. And I feel lost and confused as to how to carry on. I’m also divorced and live alone. And I was laid off 5 months ago. I feel so lost. I have dear friends and sisters and brothers who love me. But I feel stuck. Maybe I need to be patient with myself as this is still so early in my grief journey. I want to feel hope and enthusiasm and purpose again. I have felt my son close several times in the last year.

    Reply
    • Hi Diane. I’m so sorry! Be patient with yourself. It’s only been a year. Early on in my grief, I started exploring all kinds of healing modalities to generate hope and some curiosity in me. If you haven’t looked at my alternative healing toolkit, maybe download it on my website (it’s free) and see if any modalities speak to you. The modalities don’t necessarily heal us, but just learning about them can spark something new in us and help us move forward in meaningful ways. Once we get the energy moving and open up a bit more- life reacts by opening up more to us. Step by step. Day by day. It always starts on the inside. I remember when I first smiled again. It was so confusing. But I wanted my younger son to see me smile. If I could smile, then he could smile. When I laughed, I new it gave him permission to laugh. Every step in my healing process I have done for my older son in his world, and my younger son in this world. But I know in the end, I will have done it for myself too. I hope this resonates with you and helps in some way. Stay in touch. Be part of my Social Media community. We can do this together!

      Reply
  3. It been 9 years for me on this journey and everyday it’s a nightmare. I still cry every day. I’m so lost. I have 3 others sons and 11 amazing grandchildren. My greifing makes me so unhappy. I try so hard. I try counseling but get changed when I get comfortable. I know I need help but don’t know how go about it. Im trying counseling again but that’s not for few months. I just go day by day and most days stay to myself. None else wants hear about my son so I keep it all to my self buried deep inside me. Sorry to hear about you son and glad I get to meet you and looking forward some your idea. Mind don’t work. Have nice day.

    Reply
    • I understand and I’m so sorry. This Sunday I’m sending out a resource to help with grief during the holidays. Let me know if you find it helpful. I am also hosting a live 30 min Breathwork information session this Tuesday on instagram- HealingwithNikki. Breathwork has helped me so much- maybe more than any other healing modality. We’ll be giving a free digital class away after the session so you can keep doing it on your own to move energy through your body and help get unstuck. Every day I live to honor the son I lost but also to live for the one I still have here with me. They both mean the world to me and by striving to be the best mom I can be to both, I’m learning how to be rebuild myself too. I hope this perspective helps in some way. Maybe try writing to your son in a journal or on a computer every day. Get your emotions out. Process them. Go deep within yourself and start exploring ways out. If you want to start healing and finding ways to truly live again, you will… but I have found that it is a daily practice – and it’s worth it. Sending love, Nikki

      Reply

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