Be kind, be patient, don't be quick to judge, love hard.
My husband and I went to grab lunch for the first time by ourselves a couple of weeks after our life was changed forever, we lost our son. Neither of us wanted to be out, but we wanted to try and just get out of the house. I knew we looked miserable. I had on minimal make up, neither of us had a smile, we seemed to just be two emotionless bodies sitting there. We were empty. Now, I previously may have thought to myself or made a comment if I saw I couple look as miserable as we did, "Why are they out together if they're so miserable?". I will not pass that judgement ever again. Don't assume what someone else is going through… they could in fact have been in our shoes, just trying to get off of the couch and out of the house we've been in for weeks. Instead, offer a smile or pay for them to have an appetizer.
We work to get out of the house not because we are better, but because we are trying to understand and live in the space of this new normal life that's slowly becoming just our normal life. It looks much different than it did even the morning before our life changed.
Remember all of those times you got angry at someone speeding past you on the high way? Do you know why they were driving that way? Probably not. I know the feeling, you want to tell them to slow down or use choice words at them with your windows up. It's making your day worse, not theirs. What if they were trying to get back to their wife or husband at the hospital? Don't assume they're just driving fast for no reason. Think about what you'd do if your spouse was in the hospital with your child fighting for their life. Be patient.
In the beginning, seeing pregnant women, parents with children and pregnancy announcements absolutely crushed us. I couldn't go on social media and I didn't want to leave the house because pregnant women and children were literally everywhere - more than usual. It absolutely crushed me. I'll admit, it still stings, but my mindset over time began to shift. I've met an incredible, beautiful, loving army of bereaved moms or couples who have struggled to get pregnant through Carter's Cause. Those moms with children you see - how do you know they haven't lost in the past? Maybe multiple times. In a photo they're a perfect, happy family of three, but in their hearts they're a family of four. My husband was talking to our neighbor a couple of weeks after we lost Carter, she was holding her beautiful newborn baby. Dan's initial reaction inside was out of envy… "why does she have a perfect baby? Why did this happen to us"… until she shared she lost her child before the one she held close. Immediate feeling of shock and guilt for the feeling of envy. Most people do not openly share about their loss, unless it's with another loss parent. Before you have that feeling of envy towards someone, remember you may not know their entire story. Don't be quick to judge.
A man is speeding down the highway - maybe he's rushing to his wife who is at the hospital. A couple is in the restaurant and they look miserable - maybe they're just trying to get out of the house because they've been there for weeks grieving the loss of their child. A couple with a baby - maybe they lost one (or more…) before that or it took years to get pregnant. Do all things with love… love goes a long way. It's easy to forget some times in our busy lives...hold each other extra tight, be thankful and cherish EVERY moment. Love hard. You truly never know what someone is going through.
The first life lesson our son Carter taught me was very simple, yet powerful… be kind, be patient, don't be quick to judge, and love hard.