So my story is actually “what am I supposed to say/do” question, I am writing on behalf of my mother.
My mother has a work friend who I will call Jane for the sake of this story. A few years ago Jane gave birth to a stillborn baby boy, and she and her husband were quite obviously very upset about this (who wouldn’t be?). My mom has been to Jane’s house a few times since the birth (but she hasn’t been in a long time now). Basically Jane and her husband have a shrine to their son in their living room consisting of a few large poster sized photos of the baby; the baby was stillborn, so they are basically large posters of a dead purple baby. The shrine consists of things like his first outfit and hospital tags, those things are quite sweet. Jane also has a photo album which she shares with guests when they come over which holds photos of family members holding the dead baby, and more photos of the baby. Every year as well, Jane and her husband throw a birthday party for the baby.
Now, I just want to say, that I do not begrudge Jane and her husband for the way they grieve, nor do I want to question their etiquette, they suffered a great trauma and I respect their feelings. The problem is, is that it makes my mother and the friends that she has spoken to very uncomfortable. The photos of the dead baby, the parties for the dead baby, the shrine, the album, it makes my mom feel really uncomfortable and she never knows what to say, she avoids going to Jane’s because she doesn’t want to have to see the many photos of the baby on the walls.
So what should my mom do? Does she keep making excuses and finding reasons not to go there?
Does she just suck it up and go there anyway? IS there a polite way to tell Jane that she is uncomfortable? It’s such a tender topic, that we both have no idea what she should do?
Have any readers ever experienced something like this? 0415-12
Grief of this magnitude can, after years, become a habit that is hard to break out of. They are so used to seeing the shrine and reliving the pain that it has been normal for them and they have forgotten what life was like without grief. Someone needs to gently move them forward into the land of the living with gentle steps such as suggesting moving the shrine to a less frequented room with the goal being to reduce the shrine to a more manageable size and location that is more private. They are not forgetting their deceased child but rather are creating a more special place for their memories of him. Also, friends can invite them to dinner where they can have the opportunity to see a normal living space and learn to enjoy simple pleasures again.
Who that “someone” is who brings this to their attention must be someone who is kind and gentle and has enough of a relationship to broach a tender topic like this and be trusted. Perhaps your mother is that person.