My husband hit it right on the head today.
“I hate the way the media spins things! Talking about how the dad JUST suffered minor cuts and scrapes!”
He was, of course, referring to the father who bravely went into the water and tried to rescue his son from a 7-8 foot alligator. Whether he sustained outer injuries or not, he was badly, badly wounded. My husband knows these wounds and knows how much more significant the injuries are when your child dies. And it really, really bothered him that the media played this down.
Some of you may have no idea what I’m talking about or why we’re so upset.
We’re upset because we’ve been there. No, our daughter was not lost in a horrific accident of this nature. But none-the-less, we wear the battle scars of parents who have had a child die. And THAT leaves wounds far deeper than if he had lost a limb or been seriously injured.
For the rest of his life, this father, Matt Graves, will wonder if he could have done more, what he could have done better, and if there was anything he could have changed that would give him his two-year-old child back?
My husband was irate that the “news” would downplay the father’s actions/injuries to barely more than a mention.
My anger lies not only with the media, but I am LIVID at all the people who DARE to judge these parents. You weren’t there. You don’t know the circumstances. Maybe you’ve never had a two-year-old or have no idea how quickly they can get away. Maybe it was their intent to wade in the water, because it seemed a perfectly safe environment. And why would they be overly concerned about a gator there? The area is set up as a beautiful little beach. I’m from the south and I wouldn’t have been worried about hanging out on that little beach. I believe I read that no gators had been sighted in the area for a very long time.
And so what? It doesn’t matter. They lost their child. Forever.
Let. Them. Grieve.
The worst thing they could ever, ever, EVER imagine happening to them has just come to fruition. They are in shock. They are in pain.
And I assure you, they are questioning every move they made. They are wondering why they didn’t take the kids in to bed earlier that night, or why they didn’t stay at one of the the parks later, or why they decided to watch that movie outside or what if?
The what ifs will be a prison sentence to them their entire lives… so back off buster. Keep your opinions to yourself and LET THEM GRIEVE.
RELATED: How to Help A Grieving Mother Survive the First Year
You know what else happens to parents in a situation like this? Often they either blame themselves or the other parent. Maybe the dad was supposed to be watching the child. Maybe the mom turned her back for a second. It doesn’t matter. There doesn’t always have to be someone at FAULT! Sometimes bad things just happen.
And at this point, who cares? But they will. And I pray that they will turn to each other and not against each other. Because grief… grief can rip apart a family. The loss of a child can ruin a marriage.
So please, let them grieve. Let them gather their other child, gather the body of their two-year-old son Lane, and return to their home, where they will have to face the house where his toys and clothes and smell and presence will still linger.
They will have to try to sleep while battling the nightmares of that moment, wishing they could wake up from this horrible event; that they might find their son again.
Even if your un-empathetic soul thinks they are stupid, please try to find empathy and compassion for them.
Dear Matt and Melissa Graves –
I want to tell you something too. You are about to learn that there are some really stupid, inconsiderate people in this world.
You’re also going to learn that the people who love you the most will not always know what to say or do. Some will say nothing, and while that will hurt, please know they just do NOT know what to say or do.
I hope you are able to find solace in your religious beliefs, but know it’s okay and quite NORMAL if you can’t or if you are angry. You’ll find your way back when you are ready.
Finally, people say really stupid things, even when they are trying to help. Some people will tell you “everything happens for a reason.” It’s okay if you punch them in the face. You’ll find new friends.
To everyone else,
Just LOVE them. Help them, don’t ask them what they need, just assume they need everything.
Thanks to my friend Kathy at Kissing the Frog, here’s something you CAN do to help them:
If you want to do something for the Graves family, go to the source. Here is the address of their hometown church: St. Patrick Catholic Church, 20500 West Maple Road, Elkhorn, NE 68022. It doesn’t even have to be about money. A card, a prayer, a poem, a picture from your child. Anything will help them right now as they process moving through this life without their precious little boy. <3
You’re in my hearts and prayers tonight and forever.
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Christine Carter saysJune 15, 2016 at 10:56 pm
Oh so beautifully said, Alexa. My heart aches for them, and I love the messageyou share here- from a deep place of *knowing*. Thank you for being their voice, in a world full of voices who will never understand this kind of grief.
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Gerry Mahnken saysJune 15, 2016 at 11:33 pm
There are no words. I have been present at the death of 4 generations of my immediate family! (Son, Mother, Wife & Grandson) I have nothing but empathy for this family.
katbiggie saysJune 16, 2016 at 8:57 am
Oh Gerry. Loss is so terribly difficult. Thank you for sharing. And I’m sorry for you as well.
Diana saysJune 15, 2016 at 11:39 pm
Beautifully said!! Why can’t people I just show compassion to these poor parents?
katbiggie saysJune 16, 2016 at 8:57 am
I don’t understand the mentality at all. I mean, maybe if they had dropped him over a fence into an alligator pit, then they would deserve this…
Lisa @ The Meaning of Me saysJune 16, 2016 at 12:01 am
Exactly. My version is usually “just leave those people alone!”
katbiggie saysJune 16, 2016 at 8:56 am
Valorie saysJune 16, 2016 at 12:41 am
No words, just prayers through tears at the unimaginable pain. I’ve lost pregnancies, but too early to have anyone to hold–just the memories of loss. I pray they have caring comforters and get the help they need. ♡♡
katbiggie saysJune 16, 2016 at 8:56 am
You still grieved. And I’m sorry for your losses.
another jennifer saysJune 16, 2016 at 8:35 am
The whole situation just hurts my heart. Those parents lost a child in a horrific manner. It could have happened to anyone. It saddens me that the family has to deal with the media and the judgement from unknowing and, frankly, ignorant people. I hope your words reach the family, Alexa. They are important.
katbiggie saysJune 16, 2016 at 8:55 am
Agreed and agreed some more. What good does it do to call them stupid?
katbiggie saysJune 16, 2016 at 10:10 am
I hope they do too Jennifer. Or at least people in their circle who can help them.
Charlene saysJune 16, 2016 at 9:11 am
Thanks for this. I think peoples anger must come from fear. They want to distance themselves from these sort of ‘mistakes’ because they know the truth is but for the grace of God…
katbiggie saysJune 16, 2016 at 10:09 am
You’re probably very right about that.
Ce saysJune 16, 2016 at 9:33 am
Social media and the internet in general gives the naysayers and know-it-alls a voice, most often negative, judging other people from all walks of life. It was an accident, but the media and the people hiding behind their keyboards will judge and rant and harass the family…..and blame everyone and everything from the sign to the gator to the parents to Disney…….we need peace and love in our world! A child is dead, I will embrace the family in my prayers.
katbiggie saysJune 16, 2016 at 10:09 am
You nailed it – hiding behind their keyboards. People would NEVER say these things out loud or in person.
Cathy saysJune 16, 2016 at 10:28 am
Well said. Only those that have experienced the loss of a child understand the undiscribable pain. There are no words. May God provide the peace and comfort this family will need for years to come. Thank you for your post.
katbiggie saysJune 16, 2016 at 10:30 am
Thank you for reading it and commenting.
Darlene Nemeth saysJune 16, 2016 at 12:05 pm
Oh my gosh. What a heart wrenching post. My heart aches for the family and I can’t imagine how some people’s minds work.
Darlene Nemeth recently posted…Between the Lines: a Blog Series
Jennifer S saysJune 16, 2016 at 12:07 pm
I have a slightly different perspective on this topic. Please know that I have the deepest sympathy for these parents, and for any who have lost a child – no parent should ever have to bury their child. Ever.
I have not seen ANY posts criticizing the parents on any of the news links or social media outlets I follow directly. However, I have seen posts from plenty of other parents – friends of mine – saying that they HAVE seen these, and that they want others to stop judging. My question is: If you are seeing lots of comments and judging on social media…maybe you are looking at sources that you would be better off avoiding in the first place?
I know as well as anyone how easy it is to go down the rabbit holes of social media – click here, there, see something interesting, etc. I am definitely guilty of wasting PLENTY of my own time on social media that would have been better spent somewhere else. But even though I check FB, instagram, and my feedly account for blog posts every morning, even though I click on a CNN link a few times throughout the day to see what’s going on in the news – I have yet to see articles and posts criticizing or judging those parents. However, in my own FB feed, I see plenty of moms who are posting ‘responses’ to those that are judging these parents.
Perhaps all of us would find that our time is more productive if we don’t cast such a large net when looking around on social media and the internet? If we didn’t spend our time looking around so much, maybe we wouldn’t see these ‘judgy’ posts that are most likely being shared by people who we don’t know. If you have friends that are making these comments, then that is a different problem. But if you are bothered by people (who you don’t know) making judgments about a specific situation, perhaps you may want to consider ‘narrowing’ down the types of searches and browsing that you do on the internet and via social media?
This is just my opinion, and I hope that anyone who reads it knows that I have no intention of offending anyone 🙂
katbiggie saysJune 16, 2016 at 12:18 pm
I didn’t go very far to see these comments. I am in a group where there were several screen shares of posts that were calling the parents stupid. I also have a friend who posted “I’m sorry a child died, but why are people so dumb?” So yes, I did see ACTUAL people making these comments, and I wasn’t looking for them. And it made me upset. So I wrote a response.
Kristi Campbell saysJune 16, 2016 at 12:44 pm
You’re amazing. I can’t tell you how much this moved me. I agree with you completely. xo
katbiggie saysJune 16, 2016 at 1:02 pm
Thank you so much. xoxoxo
Jean saysJune 16, 2016 at 1:24 pm
I believe some people are being judgemental because their confidence that they can protect their own child under all circumstances is rocked and they need to feel as though they are superior parents who would never allow this to happen. It’s too difficult to fathom how something so horrific could not be avoided. This couple will live with the images of this horror every day and night for the rest of their lives. My hope is that they are strong enough to carry this load together, supporting each other, and that their family and friends spend not only weeks comforting them, but years being there for them. In our culture, we are programmed to move on after someone else’s loss, but they’ll never be able to move on. They can some day move forward, however, with the help of family and friends if they will remain steadfast in their support. I pray for that.
katbiggie saysJune 16, 2016 at 1:54 pm
That’s a really good point. Fear makes us act like idiots.
Christina saysJune 16, 2016 at 4:47 pm
Can not even begin to imagine what they are going through. In what was supposed to be the happiest place on earth, enjoying a scenic beach… The nightmares, heartache, and guilt — it will all be there.
Praying they get the support they need at this time.
katbiggie saysJune 16, 2016 at 10:37 pm
I know. It’s so horrific.
James Graham saysJune 16, 2016 at 11:08 pm
I’m also sickened by the people accusing the parents of being irresponsible.. It was a horrifying tragedy, that’s what it was.. My thoughts go out to the parents. May they be able to find peace now that the body of their little boy has been found..
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Erin saysJune 30, 2016 at 9:21 am
I will be the lone dissenter as someone who knows what the report said. He was in the water. There was a sign that said do NOT go in the water. They took the risk just as people do when they go to the beach. You may not see sharks all the time, but they are there all the time. Same with gators in Florida. Ultimately, the law says a parent is responsible for the safety of a minor child. Blatantly disregarding safety warning they didn’t live up to the responsibility. That does not mean I or anyone else do not have sadness for the two year old little boy who had to die in such a horrific way. While everyone is feeling sorry for the grieving parents, perhaps we should remember little Lane and what HE went through first. Had they followed direction, there could have been a different outcome. And that is just the truth.
As for the guilt they will feel the rest of their lives, I do hope they heal. I do hope they get help and I do feel horrible for them. I could not imagine losing one of my children. But me feeling they could have listened? It doesn’t make me an idiot. It makes me aware that I want to keep my children alive more than I ant to disregard a warning sign. And if, to you, a pot calling the kettle black that makes me a horrible peraon, then hey. I’m horrible. I can live with that. And so can my kids.
katbiggie saysJune 30, 2016 at 10:32 am
You are not wrong. There were signs and warnings. He WAS in the water. It’s easy to Monday morning quarterback. We all have done things that may not have been the smartest or by the rules at some point in time. NO parent is perfect. We all make mistakes. Thank goodness none of my children has ever died from one of my many, many lapses in judgement that just come from, well, being a human.