Wikipedia says Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other being’s frame of reference, i.e., the capacity to place oneself in another’s position.
What an impossible task when talking about infant loss. . . . that seems too much to ask. I would never want people to feel what I feel. Well at least not all of it, this journey has made my heart grow and I now experience love on a whole new level, so that my friends I would want you to feel but never the deep longing for things to be different, the heart crushing moments or a trigger that sneaks up and takes my breath away.
I remember years prior to my loss I heard about another wonderful woman who had a similar experience to mine. My heart broke for her, I imagined what it possibly could be like but I did not have the capacity to truly be 100% empathetic for an experience of this gravity. How could I? This is the unimaginable. Without a doubt her experience shook me, it made me realize how unfair life can be and recognized the gravity of her loss, but there was just no way by that definition I could have been fully empathetic.
What this journey has taught me is we can never judge. We can offer love, we can meet people where they are at but we will never fully understand what it is like for that individual in regards to all or any of life’s challenges. I have had the blessing to share space and hearts with many Moms who have experienced a loss. Every single one of us have a different story, every one of us feel different emotions, experience different experiences, we all have different support networks and a million other factors that make our journey so unique. We all have common threads, most feel similar things or share similar thoughts but that doesn’t mean we are the same so this leaves no room for judgement. After realizing this and being a part of the club, how could I ever expect someone who has never even remotely walked a path like this to feel what I feel. Is it even fair to expect them to try?
I do know that our story moves people. I know when I share my heart it is met with love from so many. I know that people are inherently good and trying to understand how one is feeling as an amazing act of love and community. I don’t expect people to empathize as defined above, but I am always hopeful people will leave out judgement, offer love as we navigate this journey that has no road map.
There is no way to “fix” this. The only way for us to survive is with an open loving heart. We appreciate when those around us can embrace the beautiful moments, hold space for the moments the look really messy and understand that this isn’t a journey that is smooth and runs in one direction. We are climbing mountains, falling in pits, tripping over road bumps and sometimes we are moving backwards. We are always moving but not always in an expected direction. We are okay; will are going to be okay today, tomorrow and always. We are blessed with the capacity to feel it all, the hardest moments as well as the most beautiful heart bursting moments. We were made for this journey and as hard as it is our love is stronger.
Don’t be hard on yourself if you can’t imagine how we feel. There is no expectation for you to do so. Give hugs, offer love, say a prayer, or show support in any way that is authentic to you but don’t feel like you need for even a second to imagine yourself in my shoes. They are pretty muddy and uncomfortable at times so I wouldn’t recommend it.