Shit. I have become THAT person....

(21 Posts)
Greythorne Sat 12-Apr-14 16:53:09

A family at my DCs school lost their little boy aged 9 a couple of months ago. Undiagnosed heart condition. The little boy died whilst out for a walk with his Dad one weekend. I went to the funeral out of respect, lots of parents from the school did. Terribly, terribly sad. I don't know the family more than to say hello at the school gate.

Fast forward to today, I bumped into the mum in a coffee shop. And I just froze. Did not know what to say. I am usually gregarious, social, I work in fucking PR, but I had no words. I couldn't even say hello. I avoided looking at her. I just felt such terrible paralyzing sorrow for her. She looked sort of steely. Self preservation mode, maybe.

I feel like such a heel. I don't have her phone number. I don't have her address. I can't ring to apologise. I have become one of those hideous people you read about, the ones bereaved mothers cannot understand, the ones they say crossed the street to avoid them as if death was contagious.

I might not see her at the school gates for weeks.

What on earth, if anything, can I / should I do?

LackaDAISYcal Sat 12-Apr-14 16:55:42

Find her address from a mutual acquaintance and drop over with some cake and flowers and try and explain?

Or leave a message for her via the school?

deemented Sat 12-Apr-14 16:56:30

Perhaps send a little card, if you know where she lives, to say exactly what you've said here? That you're sorry you didn't know what to say - be honest. As a bereaved mother myself, I would much rather have someone be honest with me than anything else.

Canus Sat 12-Apr-14 16:57:45

Did she actually notice though?

If you don't know her well she may not have recognised you at all.

Merrylegs Sat 12-Apr-14 17:12:30

You are feeling guilty and you want her to know that you are sorry and you are not a bad person. But telling her that after the event makes it all about you. Because she will have to acknowledge your apology in some socially acceptable way - because that is what you do with apologies. And she will end up having to make you feel better about ignoring her. Rather, next time you see her don't mention your previous behaviour but say how sorry your are for her loss.

everlong Sat 12-Apr-14 19:01:08

She would notice canus

I'm not sure what you should do OP. A note saying sorry might be ok, I don't know.

Ozne Sat 12-Apr-14 20:36:18

I think send a card or a note to say sorry. You can't undo it but you can do a belated acknowledgement.

imip Sat 12-Apr-14 20:37:59

Say exactly what you have said here. In a card...?

Maybe take a meal around?

FanjoForTheMammaries Sat 12-Apr-14 20:38:42

I would just make a point of being lovely to her next time you meet.

Next time that happens you say exactly what you've said here. You say 'I don't know what to say, I'm so sorry'.

imip Sat 12-Apr-14 20:40:58

A demented says, I say that as a bereaved mother also.

When someone admits to me they don't know how I feel, I appreciate their honesty.

A fuckwit a couple of weeks ago said (in a group setting) that she understood child bereavement because she had lost a dog (WTAF?)...

Just be honest...

AuntieStella Sat 12-Apr-14 20:44:24

Write to her. Ask the school to pass it on (put letter in unsealed envelope in case they feel the need to check what reaches a parent).

I'm in two minds here.

I agree with those suggesting cakes/biscuits to house.

I also agree with the one suggesting maybe she didn't notice. Because if you live with this do you think everyone is avoiding you or maybe that they are just sadly getting about their business?

And...terribly... At which point if ever should you stop mentioning it? As in, it's recently happened type of way? When does normal begin again....?

Just musing. My mum is/was bereaved of an 18mth old. It's something I've lived with all my life. Watching her I mean. And I still can't answer anything.

cottonwoolmum Sat 12-Apr-14 20:55:42

I wouldn't make a thing of your gaffe. As Merrylegs said - that mak sit all about you. But it would be really kind to find out where she lives and drop something over to her. I'd go for something like a plant variety that has his name (some plant somewhere must.) Just say you saw it in a garden centre and thought of him.

Ime, the most important thing is to let him be a topic of conversation and to be able to remember his life. So if you found any photos of him from school, or came across any art work he'd done etc, you could pass them on, for example. Any memory you had of him would be far more helpful to her than an apology for going blank.

deemented Sat 12-Apr-14 20:58:54

Normal never begins again. It's been ten years now nearly, for me. I'll never get normal again.

everlong Sat 12-Apr-14 21:53:19

Minnie - when people see a mother or father that has recently lost a child they often freeze, don't know what to say, so look the other way, cross over the street, fiddle with their phone.

Bereaved parents are excellent at spotting this.

twinklesunshine Sun 13-Apr-14 21:11:42

I'm a bereaved parent and I have an odd way of looking at this, so just from another point of view......I would have been glad that you didn't come and speak to me or make eye contact, because it was all I could do to leave the house, never mind chat to people, and if people mentioned my little boy I would dissolve into tears and have to go home.i had a steely exterior too which meant do not talk to me I can just about hold it together without being bothered. She could be the same as me. I don't think it's necessarily right to contact her after the fact, even if she did realise you did it. I know that people find it hard to look at me and I completely understand, it's an awful situation all round. Don't beat yourself up. People have obviously and actively avoided me, but I couldn't name them, I can however name the ones who have said something upsetting or offensive, and I will always remember that xx

Blondeshavemorefun Mon 14-Apr-14 17:29:38

Havnt lost a child but instead a husband (3yrs on wed)

I have had people in the early days cross the street to avoid me or as here bump into me and do the open goldfish expression and say nothing and skuttle off

It's not nice but it happens

And yes can go the other way and people would say sorry and I would have bottom lip tremble and cry - still times I talk about mark and cry

And then you get the awkward shuffling and open goldfish again

A card would be nice just saying you are sorry for their loss

School have class lists or ask secretary or even funeral place for their address - or ask them to pass on for you

Itsfab Fri 18-Apr-14 20:27:24

I told my friend I didn't know what to say when her mother died and the same when another friend's MIL died and both said that was enough as it showed I cared.

I think saying you are sorry for their loss and you don't know what to say can still help.

I know it would have meant a lot to DH and I went we lost our unborn children if we had had that said to us.

i haven't lost a child so may be way off the mark here, and those who sadly have are welcome to correct me. But if she wasn't someone you would've ordinarily have spoken to before she lost her DS, I don't think not speaking to her after her bereavement counts as ignoring her. If you had spoken to her it would only have been because she had lost her son - and I can imagine in some ways that's even worse, knowing that some people are only talking to you out of a pity?

If you want to talk to her next time you see her - to offer condolences or just to talk about the weather - then go ahead. But I don't think you need to feel obliged to speak to a distant acquaintance purely because she has lost her child. It must be exhausting to have to constantly engage with virtual strangers while struggling with such awful grief.

'a sense of pity'

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