I have always been a bit socially awkward. Not weird, just unpolished. I often stick my foot in my mouth or I blurt out things without thinking. Basically I have no filter. Oh and I have a very strange laugh when I’m nervous.
Since losing an infant, this problem has grown worse. Now I make others feel awkward too. It is not intentional.
My conversations with a stranger now go like this:
“Nice to meet you. What do you do?”
Me: “I’m a stay at home mom.”
“Oh. How many children do you have?”
Me: (Pause… stranger looks at me like I’m a weirdo because this should be the easiest question I get all day) Finally I saw “Well, I have four children, but I really only have three because one lives in heaven.”
Pause. “Oh, uh… um.. I am so sorry for your loss!” Or something along those lines and an expression indicating they feel awkward and wish they hadn’t gone down that road. Shuffling of feet…
Then I feel awkward for making them uncomfortable.
I usually fill the silence with something completely inappropriate like: “It’s okay though cause I drink a lot.”
OK, so now I’ve gone from just being awkward to being awkward and an alcoholic. Social services will probably be paying a visit soon.
The other night I was started down a similar path, but luckily my dear friend came to my rescue. We were at a girls night out and I made a comment about when the “babies were born.” A woman I just met looked at me, her face lit up and she asked “You have twins???”
I replied. “I did. I don’t anymore.”
Where do you go from here?
She looked at me with a stunned expression, no one said a word, and my friend blurted out “But we have Tiny and we sure do love her!!” And the conversation rapidly changed topics.
Friends, strangers, I do not share this with you for pity. I simply want you to know two things.
First, I am more than OK talking about Kathryn. I want to remember and honor her, so it does not make me feel uncomfortable to talk about her. So you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable talking about her either.
Two. I understand the topic of death and loss does make many people uneasy. Especially strangers. I am not trying to make you feel awkward. I just come by it naturally.
If you don’t know what to say to someone who has lost a baby, you might want to check out this post: The “Magic Words” When Someone Loses a Baby.