Author Topic: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .  (Read 20469 times)

Offline SC

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Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« on: November 27, 2006, 12:04:54 PM »
We've all had those awkward moments.

You've found out that a family member has cancer; A person you know has an unwed, pregnant daughter; Your best friend is expecting a baby with a handicap; or a family just started attending your church with a child that has special needs. You're afraid to say or do the wrong thing. You aren't sure how to be a real friend, so you stay away rather than make a mistake.

So, here's your chance to ask "What do I say when . . .?" or "What do I do?" without worrying about causing offence. SOMEONE on here has experienced the same thing that the person you know is going through. These loving hearts would be willing to tell you what would have meant so much (or did mean so much) to them during that time.

This is an opportunity for you to minister to others in a personal way -- a way that a large religious organization just cannot do. So, post away and lets encourage each other.

I'll go first and give you some hints on children with special needs. If you meet a child with special needs, don't assume the child has a mental defect. They could have speech or hearing problems. They may have difficulty responding quickly, but this doesn't mean that the child doesn't understand you. Speak normally, as you would to any child of that age.

I recently saw a reporter almost fall into baby talk as she spoke to a child of 12 that had Down syndrome. The girl was so taken aback by the woman's exaggerated speech that she withdrew into single word responses and refused to make eye contact.

If the child is in a wheelchair or very short, bend down or sit so that you are on eye level and take the time to wait for a response. It's intimidating to have questions thrown at you rapid fire without being given time to respond.

If you are taking care of the child, ASK the parent for special instructions AND carry them out. Some children have limitations on their diet. Some children must be redirected from repetitive behaviors. What may seem like an innocent lapse to you, could cost the parent weeks worth of effort in behavior management as the child reacts to a forbidden food or being allowed to engage in a behavior while with you. If you ignore the parents' requests, they won't cause a big ruckus. They just won't ever come back, finding it easier to stay home without the fellowship rather than risk their child in an environment that isn't good for him.

Look for ways to include the entire family in fellowship. Nothing warms a parent's heart more than to see others engaged in genuine fun with their little one. Look for ways to play with and delight in this child that these parents have chosen to welcome into their home. This little one has likes and dislikes. Get to know this little person. You will be richer for it and prayers of gratitude will be offered up from that household for you that night.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2006, 05:55:34 PM by SC »
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Offline carolinachic

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2006, 12:17:42 PM »
Well, I guess the Lord must have laid me on your heart :-*  I was wondering how to talk or how to tell everyone on here some sad news I found out today.  :'(

We suspected my oldest son has had a hard time hearing today was his third and final extensive hearing test. He has complete and total hearing loss in his right ear. He cannot get a hearing aid as their is no reverberating(sp?) echo in that ear. It broke my heart to hear this as I was so hopeful we could restore his hearing. The doctor assumes it is a birth defect and due to the fact that I have always homeschooled, we just weren't aware of the severity of it. Now they screen newborn's hearing before they leave the hospital. In spite of all this, I'm also thankful that the Lord has allowed me to stay home and school him all these years, he's nine, otherwise he may have experienced a lot of difficulties in school as well as his speech.

People tend to compare him to his younger brother, their fifteen months apart, but he's very smart and not behind academically at all, just more of an outdoors/athlete type personality than his younger brother who reads, plays classical guitar ect ::)

anyone with advice on forthcoming problems I may prepare ahead of time or just some encouragement would be so nice.
I love my kids! Austin 9, Avery 8, Haleigh 6, and Genevieve 4!!!

Offline Pink Lady

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2006, 12:23:58 PM »
When around a child who has dietary restrictions due to allergies, do not try to joke and say, "That has wheat/milk/eggs/whatever in it." That is sooooo old. ::) And annoying.  >:( My ten-year-old daughter has probably heard that a hundred times in the four years she has been diagnosed with her processed dairy allergy.
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Offline Pink Lady

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2006, 12:27:46 PM »
People tend to compare him to his younger brother, their fifteen months apart, but he's very smart and not behind academically at all, just more of an outdoors/athlete type personality than his younger brother who reads, plays classical guitar ect ::)


Your children sound like mine. My son is very gifted academically and musically, but not mych anyplace else. My daughter finds everything interesting and would need to live to about five hundred to do all the things she wants to do (she just finished decorating the Christmas tree almost single-handedly, and she's ten)...oh, and somewhere along the way when she can't find anything more interesting to do, she just  might think about knocking out some schoolwork. ;) I just point out that God made them both different but they are exactly how He planned for them to be. I say that we all have our strong areas and our weaknesses and we need to use to former to bless others and the latter to learn humility.
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Offline mexmarr

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2006, 12:29:49 PM »
I'll go first and give you some hints on children with special needs.

My dd is blind.  SHe has big blue eyes, and at first glance, you would never know.  It is interesting to see the different reactions when people find out.  Some are shocked speechless, other starting pitying me (or her), others are embarressed, others are excited about the opportunities ahead for us, and what God can do through the situation.

I have completely accepted my daughter situation and no longer grieve (at least not very often) or feel umcomfortable about it.  I just thought that I would throw in my $.02 about what reactions bother me the most.

I don't like the "poor pitiful you" reactions, when people feel like my dhs life is a tragedy and it is the worse thing that could happen.  It's life.  We've gotta get over it and get on.  If I pity myself or my daughter, I will no longer be able to train her to make the best use of what she has or help her realize that her life can be just as fulfilled as the next person.  

Since my daughter has a little bit of vision, I always have people telling me what she can see.  One person even told me, "she sees more than you think she can."  Hey, she's MY daughter, I know her better than anyone.  When I give details of what she can and can't do, I just want them to believe me!

Of course, there are the people who think that if I had enough faith, God would heal her...  I have faith.  I know that GOd could heal her.  But maybe he has something better for than sight.  And that is ok.

Some people are embarressed.  There is no need.  If you are sincerely interested, ask all the questions you want.  I don't mind.  I am glad that you care!  And I am always happy to brag on my dd and her accomplishments.  I also don't mind admitting that she is not equal to her peers in some things.  It's ok.  That is life.  Tell me about your kids accomplishments, too.  I don't mind talking about your child's first steps at 1 when my is just taking her first steps at 2.  

If anyone is interested, my dd just turned 2.  She can only take a few steps alone, but doesn't really feel comfortable doing it yet, as she doesn't have much balance.  She only weighs 22 lbs, and is a tiny little bundle of energy, who can get anywhere she wants. But compare her to any other 24 month old and she will out smart them all!  She can count to 22, say her ABC's, sing a number of songs in there entirety, and nothing gets passed her.  I am so proud of her!

On the other hand, at 14 months, this same child was like an infant.  She couldn't sit up,  bear any weight on her legs, eat any solids, and was completely unaware of the world around her.  We were pretty sure that she was mentally behind.  But boy she sure showed us!

Thanks SC for starting this thread.  This is just the perspective of one mother of a handicapped child.


Offline ladyhen

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2006, 12:32:19 PM »
Carolinachic,
Just want to say that my family has been involved in deaf ministries for nearly 10 years and have seen that there is no 'one' answer to hearing impairment.  We have heard so many stories of people's experiences with schools, doctors, families, etc.  It seems to be much like everything else; the experts just can't agree.
What a blessing that you are homeschooling!  I think you are doing the best possible thing for your family and I would just encourage you to keep it up.  Your love and involvement in your son's life is going to be the foundation for his future.   God knows what He is doing.  He will be faithful to guide you and your son.
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Offline mexmarr

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2006, 12:35:17 PM »
I didn't mean to be insensitive to those who are just finding about about a child's condition.  That is often the hardest time.  I was completely torn up when I suspected that my dh might be blind.  It about killed me.  Sometimes a hug is the best thing in the world!

Comfort is a good response when someone first finds out.  My previous post was more geared to meeting some who's child has had the handicap for a while, and they have already accepted it.

Offline carolinachic

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2006, 12:43:03 PM »
I'll go first and give you some hints on children with special needs.

My dd is blind.  SHe has big blue eyes, and at first glance, you would never know.  It is interesting to see the different reactions when people find out.  Some are shocked speechless, other starting pitying me (or her), others are embarressed, others are excited about the opportunities ahead for us, and what God can do through the situation.

I have completely accepted my daughter situation and no longer grieve (at least not very often) or feel umcomfortable about it.  I just thought that I would throw in my $.02 about what reactions bother me the most.

I don't like the "poor pitiful you" reactions, when people feel like my dhs life is a tragedy and it is the worse thing that could happen.  It's life.  We've gotta get over it and get on.  If I pity myself or my daughter, I will no longer be able to train her to make the best use of what she has or help her realize that her life can be just as fulfilled as the next person.  

Since my daughter has a little bit of vision, I always have people telling me what she can see.  One person even told me, "she sees more than you think she can."  Hey, she's MY daughter, I know her better than anyone.  When I give details of what she can and can't do, I just want them to believe me!

Of course, there are the people who think that if I had enough faith, God would heal her...  I have faith.  I know that GOd could heal her.  But maybe he has something better for than sight.  And that is ok.

Some people are embarressed.  There is no need.  If you are sincerely interested, ask all the questions you want.  I don't mind.  I am glad that you care!  And I am always happy to brag on my dd and her accomplishments.  I also don't mind admitting that she is not equal to her peers in some things.  It's ok.  That is life.  Tell me about your kids accomplishments, too.  I don't mind talking about your child's first steps at 1 when my is just taking her first steps at 2.  

If anyone is interested, my dd just turned 2.  She can only take a few steps alone, but doesn't really feel comfortable doing it yet, as she doesn't have much balance.  She only weighs 22 lbs, and is a tiny little bundle of energy, who can get anywhere she wants. But compare her to any other 24 month old and she will out smart them all!  She can count to 22, say her ABC's, sing a number of songs in there entirety, and nothing gets passed her.  I am so proud of her!

On the other hand, at 14 months, this same child was like an infant.  She couldn't sit up,  bear any weight on her legs, eat any solids, and was completely unaware of the world around her.  We were pretty sure that she was mentally behind.  But boy she sure showed us!

Thanks SC for starting this thread.  This is just the perspective of one mother of a handicapped child.



Thank you for sharing your story! Your a brave mom :) My youngest brother had down syndrome and died at nine months old. through this tragedy(he lived in the hospital the entire time) his NICU nurse got saved and later her husband got saved!!! I know God can take these burdens on our heart and bring joy. The news I received today has actually inspired me to work harder to push my son more and not let this "handicap" keep him from reaching his goals and dreaming big for his future! :)
I love my kids! Austin 9, Avery 8, Haleigh 6, and Genevieve 4!!!

Offline miff aka Missi

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2006, 12:59:38 PM »
Here's a situation that came up.  I hope I handled it correctly.

My daughter (6) and I were at Office Depot back in August getting school supplies.  We were stuck in a line and close by was a man.  He is a little person (dwarf).  My dd kept staring at him.  

I got very close to her and said, "Do you remember us watching 'Little People, Big World', with the little people the Roloff's?"

She said, "Yes."

I continued, "That man is a little person.  If you have a question for him, you go over there and ask him.  If you don't have a question, then you need to stop staring at him."  

She stopped staring.  I don't think he heard any of the conversation.  #1 Would it make a difference if he did?  #2 Does anyone that is a little person (or know a little person) think I should have said something else to her?  We did discuss it further in the car.  

Is there anyone out there with a special needs person in the family that would say, "I'm tired of people asking questions".  ???  This is what I wonder about.

Missi

Offline SC

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2006, 01:02:24 PM »
Well, I guess the Lord must have laid me on your heart :-*  I was wondering how to talk or how to tell everyone on here some sad news I found out today.  :'(
. . . .
He has complete and total hearing loss in his right ear. He cannot get a hearing aid as their is no reverberating(sp?) echo in that ear. It broke my heart to hear this as I was so hopeful we could restore his hearing. The doctor assumes it is a birth defect and due to the fact that I have always homeschooled, we just weren't aware of the severity of it. Now they screen newborn's hearing before they leave the hospital. In spite of all this, I'm also thankful that the Lord has allowed me to stay home and school him all these years, he's nine, otherwise he may have experienced a lot of difficulties in school as well as his speech.
. . . . . .anyone with advice on forthcoming problems I may prepare ahead of time or just some encouragement would be so nice.

First, I must say that my heart is breaking for you. No parent can receive a diagnosis with lifelong implications for their child without experiencing grief. There will come a time when you will see blessings in this package of pain, but for now, you grieve over the loss of what you thought would be. You are realizing that the future will be a little different than you had anticipated. It's okay to cry and let God comfort you in that grief.

But, while you are doing that, remember that your son has lived with this for a long time. It's all he has ever known. The only way he realizes that it isn't "normal" is because all of the adults and medical professionals decided that he needed a bunch of tests to tell them what he already had been living with -- hearing loss. This will be more of an adjustment for you than for him. Your task will be to find a way to let your sorrow pass without causing him alarm. Also, I see it as a blessing that you had a delayed diagnosis. You've seen first hand, apart from the therapists and 'experts,' just how normal (ha!) life can be with hearing loss.

Also, your task is to find new ways for him to do things that his hearing loss might make difficult. The best way I can describe this is a conversation my dh and I had soon after our child's diagnosis. Dh: "Just tell me one thing, what if there comes a day when he looks at you and says he CAN'T do something? What will you do then?" My response: "Well, let's just say he has to learn to go up and down stairs and he tells me that it's too hard. I'll just look at him and tell him that we are going to work at it every day until he can get up and down those stairs. The world is full of stairs. If he wants to go up them, he'll have to figure out a new way if he can't do it stepping. I don't care if it looks pretty. I don't care if it takes him longer. He can't afford to quit. We'll become experts at finding another way."

I didn't understand the full meaning of those words at the time, but it has become more and more true as the years have passed.

Finally, trust that God knew just what He was doing to place THIS child in YOUR family. He knew the kind of parents that this child would NEED to become all that God wants him to be. Trust God's wisdom in this. It will get you through some uncertain times. Remember, you have access to God's wisdom, and He bestows it liberally on all who seek Him.

I'll be praying.
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Offline sixweechillens

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2006, 01:31:02 PM »
I know a family who had triplets many years ago. Two were born small, but normal, while the third was deprived oxygen during the birth and is severely handicapped today. However, his mind is active and oh-so-alive! They have entered puberty in the last four years, and one major thing I've noticed is that people forget he is the same age as the other two. Yes, he's small and wheelchair bound with dwarfed legs. But inside his heart and mind and body are taking place the same chemical and emotional changes that transform a little boy into a man. So a reminder to those who cross paths with a seemingly mentally-retarded person: things are not always as they seem! Treat them with respect and interest, even if they don't (or can't) respond. You will have touched a chord of their heart in a way others often miss (or abuse). His eyes are crossed and his arms are crippled, but he has learned to use a computer. And with this "magic tool" a whole new world of communication has opened up for him! He now can crack jokes, chat with friends and share his dreams and opinions via a special computer. So my encouragement for you mothers of handicapped children.... you've heard that God never closes one door without opening another? It's true1 He cares for you, He cherishes your child, and he will open a door (if not many!) to let the blessings of this earthly life flow down upon you. Blessings and prayers to you from me.

Offline mexmarr

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2006, 01:35:28 PM »
Wow, SC, you really are full of wisdom!  I couldn't have said it better!

Do you also have a child with a handicap.  WHat is it and how old are they?

Offline carolinachic

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2006, 01:41:33 PM »
Thanks SC!!! I know it's more new news for me than my son, like you said. I guess I'm just feeling guilty thinking of all the times he probably got in trouble for saying, "I didn't hear you!" When he was supposed be doing something I told him to. Thankfully, children bounce back and are quick to forgive. I haven't sat down and told him that he'll never hear again on that side...I'm afraid of getting emotional right now, since I just found out. I thought maybe I should'n't tell him right now as long as he can still do those things that he's been doing. He just finished football season(I'm wondering how he heard the coach with that helmet on :D) he plays the piano quite well, he sings solos at church...so I guess I'm wanting to keep him thinking he's as normal as anyone else for now. Am I wrong for not telling him everything?
I love my kids! Austin 9, Avery 8, Haleigh 6, and Genevieve 4!!!

Offline abbilynn

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2006, 01:47:56 PM »
I have two special needs kids, one 7 and one 4.  When the oldest was 2 he was diagnosed with a major speech delay.  It was hard b/c alot of people assumed that b/c he couldn't talk, he couldn't understand anything either.  And that definently wasn't true!  He also has minor SID.  He's now not even in speech anymore and talks just fine.  My 4 yr old was diagnosed with severe SID and things have always been hard for him and for me trying to figure out how to deal with him.  Within the last few months we found out that both of the boys' problems stem from allergies to gluten, dairy, and other major stuff.  My 4 yr old also has toxic metals in his body.  After saying all that, the hardest part of it all has been dealing with people who think I should be doing something different or if I were just more strict they would be okay.  It's hard for others to accept that it isn't always a discipline problem.  And like someone mentioned earlier, people often assume it means they are mentally slow.  It's difficult to watch your child struggle with life and I wish others would give me a little slack and trust that I am doing all I can to help them in appropriate ways.  And also as someone mentioned, if the parents of special needs kids gives you specific instructions, especially concerning diet restrictions, by all means do what they ask!  The consequences of one small mistake can mean days or weeks of trying to get the child back together.  I guess besides all that, trust the parents.  Trust that they know their child better than anyone and are doing all they can to help them.  ;D ;D
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Offline Simply Kristen

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2006, 02:01:59 PM »
So, here's your chance to ask "What do I say when . . .?" or "What do I do?" without worrying about causing offence. SOMEONE on here has experienced the same thing that the person you know is going through. These loving hearts would be willing to tell you what would have meant so much (or did mean so much) to them during that time.

This is an opportunity for you to minister to others in a personal way -- a way that a large religious organization just cannot do. So, post away and lets encourage each other.

OKay. I'm taking my chance.

Is is okay to ask questions? I am just full of questions... all the time... about lots of things.
I'm interested in the Dx aspect and the lifestyle changes.
Is it okay to say "Can I ask some questions?"

What about adopted kids? Is it okay to ask questions? I really like to know how you found the child and more.

I know this is minor....But our daughter has a large tag on her ear. I don't mind a bit when people ask questions. I shouldn't assume everyone is the same.

Offline SC

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #15 on: November 27, 2006, 02:23:37 PM »
I haven't sat down and told him that he'll never hear again on that side...I'm afraid of getting emotional right now, since I just found out. I thought maybe I should'n't tell him right now as long as he can still do those things that he's been doing. He just finished football season(I'm wondering how he heard the coach with that helmet on :D) he plays the piano quite well, he sings solos at church...so I guess I'm wanting to keep him thinking he's as normal as anyone else for now. Am I wrong for not telling him everything?

Okay, like you said, this isn't really news to him other than the fact that things aren't expected to improve. For me, a lot would depend on the child. If he is curious, he should know. If he shows an interest, and you don't think you could hold it together, ask dh to do it. Let it be a little man to man like, "Son, I know you don't think this is a big deal. The doctors say it's permanent, but I don't see where it's held you back. Your mom's a little upset, but you know women are more emotional about these things. We'll probably just have to give her a few more hugs the next few days." Or something to that effect.

As far as being normal -- heaven forbid! We need more and more that are a step above and your son sounds gloriously that . . . just like Debi Pearl. Remember, she has some hearing loss.

Quote
Is is okay to ask questions? I am just full of questions... all the time... about lots of things.
I'm interested in the Dx aspect and the lifestyle changes.
Is it okay to say "Can I ask some questions?"

What about adopted kids? Is it okay to ask questions? I really like to know how you found the child and more.

I can't answer for adoptive moms, but here's my take on asking parents of children with special needs questions: You aren't likely the first person to ask that question. I would say that if it is asked for a reason like concern for the child and/or wanting to know so you'll know how to interract with the child/family, then YES, by all means ask. If it's just idle curiosity (like a sideshow), it wouldn't be welcomed.

I'm always happy to inform and educate, but my son is a child first. He's a person and deserves to be treated with the same consideration as any other person. And, don't worry, if you aren't sure where that line is, the parent of a child with special needs has likely had lots of practice showing others where that line is  ::).

Just one rule of thumb: If the child is not a baby, direct your questions to him or wait until he is out of hearing range. It's not polite to speak about someone as though he isn't there. I hope that helped.

Do you also have a child with a handicap.  WHat is it and how old are they?

Yes, we have a 3 year old little boy with Down syndrome. His name is Zechariah (Jehovah remembers) Shem (name). We chose his name before he was born because it means 'Jehovah remembers my name.' At the time, only God knew how much we would NEED him to have that name. I've inserted a picture we took of him at Thanksgiving checking out the decorations.
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Offline ShabbyChic

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #16 on: November 27, 2006, 02:47:55 PM »
My younger son (age 8 mos.) has special needs.  He was born with a birth defect that most people heard about via our prayer line, and the rumor mill, even though it was not really noticable unless you were staring.  He will outgrow it by the time he's one.  He's pretty much a normal kid at this point, just trying to catch up to the other kids his age physically. 

I think that the most sincere statement folks could make that I appreciated was, "Well how can I pray for you specifically this week?"  I always had a specific new obstacle with him.  It meant a lot to me.
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Offline healthyinOhio

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #17 on: November 27, 2006, 02:53:32 PM »
SC,

Your son is a doll!!  :-*
  I think this is a very good topic with some really good advice thus far.  I, personally don't feel uncomfortable around physically or mentally retarded people.  I grew up living with some.  My mother remarried a man who ran a house full of people with Downs syndrome, cerebral palsy, mild to moderate retardation.  We lived there, too.  So, I grew up seeing it and I guess it never phased me as a child.  In fact, it was kinda fun.  Growing up with a bunch of adults who acted like children. I always had someone to play with.
 It pained me sometimes to see my parents make fun of them.  It hurt my feelings to see people do that, so I guess I just grew up with that kind of respect.  But one thing that I would like to add for those who do have these types of children/family members is to have a little more patience towards those who don't  understand it completely.  I am sure most of you are doing that, but just because I grew up understanding it or you see it everyday, doesn't mean that everyone else does, too.  You have had the rude questions a million times, but to the person in question it is their first.  KWIM?

But something that I am never sure of is when you have someone you know who has a loved one who has died.  I never know what to say or how much to do.  I guess I just feel that everyone grieves differently, and I just can't figure out how much to do for people.  In fact, just two weeks ago, a friend lost her 34 year old daughter to a stomach stapling surgery gone wrong.  She spent days at the hospital bedside and I offered so much help, but of course they never ask for you to do anything.  I would have made some food, but I try to put myself in that position and know that I could not eat in that kind of a situation.  So, the grieving process is something I would think is very difficult to figure out.

Offline SC

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #18 on: November 27, 2006, 03:12:55 PM »
I do know of something that is a practical help to those with loved ones facing a hospital stay. During this time, food might be impractical as everyone is at the hospital. I had the presence of mind to ask someone to make telephone calls for me. This person was a true Godsend. Whenever there was news on my son, all I had to do was make one telephone call. She had the contacts to prayer lines, relatives, friends, etc. Anyone who had asked to be notified was on her list. I didn't have to try and remember what I had told anyone. I didn't have to spend a lot of money or time on calls (I just gave her a phone card) from the hospital. Also, all of the people had this one person to call for information and updates.
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Offline heatheronthehill

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #19 on: November 27, 2006, 03:27:15 PM »
As far as talking with people who have just experienced a loss...

There are many things that can be said that are not helpful.  Things like, "you should be happy - he/she went to a better place..." or "What can I do to help?"  There are a million other "wrong" things. 

What I have found helpful are:
1.  Things that affirm the person's pain, like, "This is so hard."  I think it's ok to say, "I'm really missing him/her..." with a look that says that you know they are missing the person too.   

2.  Things that affirm your care for the person, like, "we are praying for you", and "we love you and care about you."

3.  Though it will probably cause bursts of tears, it was really nice to hear stories about the lost loved one and how much they meant in everyone's lives.  Things like, "your Granny has such a witty sense of humor!  I'm gonna miss hearing her teasing everybody."  or "Your Granny was so hospitable..." (going on to describe how she went above and beyond...)

I would say, don't ask what you can do to help - just do something!  Mow their grass for them without warning, bring some food to a widower some time a while after the funeral when all the other food-bringers have stopped, go over to their house and shine all of their shoes for them before the funeral and offer to have their nice suits dry cleaned for them...  just some ideas.

My Granny was in hospice care for a very long time with various family members taking turns care-giving.  The nicest thing anyone *ever* did was to clean the house for the family right before she passed away.  Top to bottom, this volunteer did a fabulous job and it was such a welcome relief to the family as they were expecting many visitors. 

Good thread...

Offline K.Sarah

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #20 on: November 27, 2006, 04:03:07 PM »
Strangely, my best friend and I have both experienced the loss of an infant due to genetic disorders, and we've talked about the awkwardness people have, not knowing what to say.

As someone else mentioned, there are those who will tell you just to keep having faith and it will be all right.  I was one of those myself before.  I do believe that God can take a situation and completely turn it around and heal, but He doesn't always.  Please be aware when you are encouraging people, that this is also a possibility.  But don't rule out God's works, either. 

Lots of people told me, "You're so strong -- I don't think I could handle it."  Which, when you think about it, is not really true, since you handle whatever comes at you, and truthfully, I don't think that being strong is a prerequisite for trials of our faith!  Those are what make you strong! 

Also, when someone has lost an infant, particularly early on ( our daughter was 5 weeks old, and had been in the NICU the whole time), there is a temptation to"forget" about the baby after a month or two.  It's so discouraging to the parents that people turn right around and forget that you are still grieving.  Lots of people said to us, "Well, at least you can have more,"  or "At least you have these other two little sweeties."  Which was also true, and no one knows how grateful I was to have my little girls at that time of loss -- but no child, no matter how great, can fill the void of the one you lost, and especially not the thought of "another baby" some time in the future.

I guess being sensitive to the person's needs is the most important thing, and that is hard, because emotions change so quickly.  I know that the very best thing for me was when people would ask me questions about Isabel -- just so I could talk about her.  No one ever said her name for a while, and that was so hard -- I wanted to talk about her.  She was real, she was my baby, and still is in my heart 3 years later!   So I'd say, ask more (tactful) questions, and try to "say" less!
Happily married to my kind of guy, mama to 4 great  kiddos here and one little beauty with our Father.

Offline SC

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #21 on: November 27, 2006, 05:20:30 PM »
Okay, ladies, I'm one of you. I've known the loss of a loved one to death. I know what it is to have a child that is viewed as different. So, when I say the following, I am not trying to say that any of the comments have not been helpful. I find that everyone has contributed a piece of his/her heart and your generosity in doing so is a blessing to behold.

However, let's try and frame our comments in the form of what SHOULD a person do or say that WOULD be helpful. In other words, if you've received comments, suggestions, or 'helpful' advice that wasn't welcomed, what WOULD HAVE BEEN helpful instead? This requires some thinking as in a moment of grief or crisis, it's easy to know when a gesture inflicts more pain. It's difficult to know what would be helpful in the moment. That's why I started this thread.

For those of us who have walked a few valleys and come out the other side (or still might be going through one), why not let others benefit from that experience by coming up with things which would be helpful during that time? Weed through the non-helpful stuff and come up with the one or two things someone did that really met the need.

I offer this as a caution. If we use this thread to list the hurts and slights of others, we may frighten away the very ones that wish to be used to comfort sisters and brothers in need. They don't want to be used as an example of what not to do, so they do nothing.

A very wise person told me when I began this journey with Zech that I would need to learn to be a dispenser of grace. People will be thoughtless, careless, and insensitive. Sometimes the most graceful thing we can do is ignore them and their missteps and look for ways to celebrate the angels of mercy that listen to God's whispered directives.

Now, somewhere out there are some hurting people that are going through something you went through. They have a friend, family member, or aquaintance that is reading this thread. What do you wish someone would have done for you?
« Last Edit: November 27, 2006, 05:56:19 PM by SC »
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Offline mexmarr

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #22 on: November 28, 2006, 04:04:02 AM »
One helpful thing to say would be something like this, "You know, I really can't understand exactly how you feel, but, I want you to know that I care, and I will be here for you."  Even if you think you understand or have experienced similar situations, you really can't know the specifics of what is going on in that persons heart.

Follow that up with actions showing that you do care.  When I was grieving the loss of my first baby (miscarriage).  My mom drove nearly an hour for several days to come wash my dishes.  I knew she cared! My initial reaction with my mom was, you can't understand, you've had nine children, and never lost one, how can you understand?  I realized that she didn't have to experience the same kind of pain or even understand it to really care.  She proved her care and love through actions. 


Offline ~esposita~

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #23 on: November 28, 2006, 09:31:51 AM »
OK...I haven't any advice, just question:

My mom has thyriod cancer, and is about to begin treatment - radioative iodine - during which  time she will need to be in total isolation.  She has good days, then she has other days when she feels like "she is not long for this world."  (Having her say that was a bit hard.)  I truely want to know what is going on - physically, mentally, emotionally - but I don't know if or how much she wants to talk about it.  I know she wants encouragement, but how do you encourage when you yourself cant forsee what is going to happen?  Also, she's too smart for the "blanket encouragement" (you know:  "you'll be OK.  If you're gonna have cancer this is the one to have!"  like that is encouraging!)  Uhhh...I know I have more questions, but I don't know what to ask.  Honestly, I don't know what I'm feeling right now!  She was here for Thanksgiving, and has now gone home - she won't be able to see her grandkids for 6 mos. 

Any insight?
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Offline SC

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #24 on: November 28, 2006, 09:57:40 AM »
OK...I haven't any advice, just question:

My mom has thyriod cancer, and is about to begin treatment - radioative iodine - during which  time she will need to be in total isolation.  She has good days, then she has other days when she feels like "she is not long for this world."  (Having her say that was a bit hard.)  I truely want to know what is going on - physically, mentally, emotionally - but I don't know if or how much she wants to talk about it.  I know she wants encouragement, but how do you encourage when you yourself cant forsee what is going to happen?  Also, she's too smart for the "blanket encouragement" (you know:  "you'll be OK.  If you're gonna have cancer this is the one to have!"  like that is encouraging!)  Uhhh...I know I have more questions, but I don't know what to ask.  Honestly, I don't know what I'm feeling right now!  She was here for Thanksgiving, and has now gone home - she won't be able to see her grandkids for 6 mos. 

Any insight?

First, let me say how sad it is to hear that your mom is sick. I don't know if this would be applicable to your circumstance, but I will share with you what I did when my brother had cancer.

My initial inclination was to want to run to him and try to revisit memories, talk about 'stuff,' etc. But, when I thought about it, I realized that this was only me trying to take care of my own emotions at the expense of his time -- which was short.

So, instead, I determined to make his priorities my own. He was a fan of a local college football team, so I wrote to the coach, told him my brother's story and asked if he could send a note of encouragement. He sent a handwritten letter that my brother cherished. Then, I called our old high school chorus teacher. My brother had made the All State Chorus when he was in school. Chorus was one of the few places he excelled. She was so gracious to call and visit with my brother over the telephone. The next thing I did was let my brother pick the topic of conversation when I was with him. If he didn't feel like talking, that was okay as I would just sit quietly there. Sometimes, we just sang songs.

There were so many things out of control at that time, I just felt it important that he be able to control the content of our visits. While I was caring for him, there were many visitors who were uncomfortable and would swoop in talking fast and furious, asking tons of questions. That just made him tired.

I was tempted to spend time telling him how sad I was and how I would miss him, but really, he knew that already. Now, looking back, I don't regret handling things as I did. On the last day I took care of him -- as I was leaving -- he motioned for me to lean over. He couldn't really talk, but he mouthed the words, "love you" and hugged me while I cried. Really, what more was there to say?

As for saying things like "this is just the sickness to have" because of a good prognosis -- that's for the doctors to say IMO. If you are there to comfort someone, saying things like, "At least you didn't loose BOTH legs."  OR "Well, THOSE children are just such a BLESSING" (aren't all children?) OR "You're young and can have more" are sayings that don't really comfort because they don't acknowledge the loss that is being suffered.

I'd much rather hear something like, "This is a very hard thing. It will be difficult. You will be tempted to give up hope. But we serve a God whose love is deeper than the deepest pit of dispair. Cling to Him. He's never lost one of His own, and He's not about to let you go now." Being reminded of how well God loves and comforts IN THE CIRCUMSTANCE has always been more of a comfort to me than trying to make believe the circumstance is not dire.

My $.02
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Offline ~esposita~

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #25 on: November 28, 2006, 10:05:58 AM »
Thanks, SC - the thing you said about making their priorities your own:  that struck a fine chord! 


I'd much rather hear something like "This is a very hard thing. It will be difficult. You will be tempted to give up hope. But we serve a God whose love is deeper than the deepest pit of dispair. Cling to Him. He's never lost one of His own, and He's not about to let you go now." Being reminded of how well God loves and comforts IN THE CIRCUMSTANCE has always been more of a comfort to me than trying to make believe the circumstance is not dire.


As far as saying the above quote...I cant.  She doesn't (to my knowledge) love and serve Jesus  :'(  THAT is a dire circumstance!

« Last Edit: November 28, 2006, 10:08:34 AM by bajusabroad »
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Offline SC

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #26 on: November 28, 2006, 10:38:07 AM »
Thanks, SC - the thing you said about making their priorities your own:  that struck a fine chord! 


I'd much rather hear something like "This is a very hard thing. It will be difficult. You will be tempted to give up hope. But we serve a God whose love is deeper than the deepest pit of dispair. Cling to Him. He's never lost one of His own, and He's not about to let you go now." Being reminded of how well God loves and comforts IN THE CIRCUMSTANCE has always been more of a comfort to me than trying to make believe the circumstance is not dire.


As far as saying the above quote...I cant.  She doesn't (to my knowledge) love and serve Jesus  :'(  THAT is a dire circumstance!

Well, Honey, just because she doesn't love and trust Him doesn't mean that He doesn't know the key to her heart. He won you over, didn't He?

You'll need lots of wisdom here to know what to say and what NOT to say. Ask God to give you discernment and wisdom for this task. In addition, trust that He can send just the right messenger to give her just the right message so that she can respond with a full heart to Him. Let your presence and your love for her be an unspoken testimony and trust that the Holy Spirit has ways we don't know about.

Ask God to prepare your heart for any opportunity He may present and trust that He is working whether or not you bear witness to His work. Besides, you're His child. His heart is touched with that which matters to you. He desires to draw your mom to Himself more than you desire to see it happen.

If she never responds, it won't be because you or Jesus didn't care. . . The end of this story hasn't yet been written. You go love on that mama and trust the One who died for her.

General Disclaimer:
The above statement is my own personal conviction and not meant to in any way be criticism of another. It is my genuine heartfelt belief and not meant to cause hurt feelings.
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Offline Julia

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #27 on: November 28, 2006, 04:27:57 PM »
Now, somewhere out there are some hurting people that are going through something you went through. They have a friend, family member, or acquaintance that is reading this thread. What do you wish someone would have done for you?

When I lost my mom at age 23 and then my only sibling at age 27, one thing that was hard was that after the initial "I'm sorry"'s, most of my friends didn't ever talk about them with me again. This may have been because most of them were also around my age and hadn't experienced a death of a close family member, or it may have been because I tend to be sort of a private person and they assumed I wouldn't want to talk about them, or it may have been that they just didn't know what to say and were afraid to say the wrong thing. It was hard, though, because sometimes when you are in the middle of the situation it is hard to grasp the gravity of it, if that makes sense, and sometimes I just wondered if it really wasn't that big of a deal to anyone else, if no one else missed them, if the world was just going to go on like they had never existed. It wasn't like I wanted to just dump all my feelings on everyone, I just wanted to be able to talk about them because they were still very alive in my thoughts, but then I was keeping up the bravado with everyone else and not wanting to make them feel awkward.

For this reason when I know someone is grieving over something, I try to gently ask questions, unless I can really tell that they don't want to talk about it. Maybe this is not the thing to do, because it seems that I've heard people say they wish people would quit asking questions, but I think I would have liked it. Maybe if it is a more obvious grief someone is experiencing, like the loss of a child or a very public loss, that may be when they get tired of questions. The people whom I really appreciated were the ones who would mention my mom every once in a while and ask how we were doing, and they still ask when I see them. It seemed obvious to me that they were praying for me and grieving with me because they remembered what was going on in my life. Most of these people also happened to be the older women who were moms themselves, so maybe compassion and understanding develop with age and experience, but I had one friend my age with a real gift for empathy, so it is not a lost cause if you are young and you really care about comforting someone.

I will also say that there were times, especially when my mom was dying, that I was just ungrateful, angry, and had a bad attitude. No one could have said the right thing! Knowing human nature, I am probably not the only one, so if you are dealing with a grieving person you may just need to be patient and loving with that person and do your best at comforting them.

If you can think of practical ways to meet their needs - great - raking a widow's lawn, taking care of children, meals, etc. Be creative and use your gifts and situation - when my mom lost the ability to use her hands because of cancer, she couldn't hold a book to read it anymore, and a neighbor would come and read to her. One person who was a photographer took pictures of the funeral and gave them to me, and my real macho uncle brought me some iced tea during the funeral  :). Both were sort of random, but sweet, and I just appreciated anything that showed me someone cared. If you can't think of anything practical - flowers, cards, and food will help just because they will know you are thinking of them. Remember that you are not going to heal their pain, but you can offer them a slight bit of comfort, and they will always remember what you did. 

I deal with grief by reading, so some books I liked and that you might be able to reccommend were Trusting God by Jerry Bridges, When God Weeps by Joni Erickson Tada, A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis, and I like old books - biographies like those of Susanna Wesley (who lost 10 of her 21 children) and Mrs. Martin Luther (lost two or three children as well), also stories like the Anne of Green Gables books and Jane Eyre - where people faced death at younger ages and were more likely to deal with it head-on, not feeling sorry for themselves and despairing, and who also had a better grasp on God's sovereignty.

My pastor points out that if we could trade our trials for someone else's, most of us wouldn't want to. It's true for me! God gives us the grace to handle exactly what we must. Many of us can also look back and see the blessings God has bestowed upon us through our trials and truly be "thankful in everything."

Most of all, pray for your friend, for God's comfort, that He would mold their character to be more like His, and that they would know the hope they have (or can have) in Him.

I'm copying SC's disclaimer because I know I tend to open cans of worms:The above statement is my own personal conviction and not meant to in any way be criticism of another. It is my genuine heartfelt belief and not meant to cause hurt feelings.   :)
« Last Edit: November 28, 2006, 04:41:55 PM by juliaofsunnyside »

Offline HappyHomemaker25

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #28 on: November 28, 2006, 07:25:23 PM »
Someone asked if it was ok to ask adoptive moms about their experiences. I speak for myself of course when I say I LOVE to talk about the miracles God worked when he brought our family together. I was adopted as a newborn and I like to tell people that story as well and my mom does not mind answering questions or talking about it either. When people ask questions about our experience with adopting five children at one time, they better be ready to listen, because nothing will get me talking faster.
As far as what to say to someone hurting, sometimes all they need is someone to hold them so they can cry. When my best friend miscarried her first baby I went straight there. I had nothing to say. I did not "know" how she felt, but I know my heart broke at the thought of not seeing that perfect little person we had so anticipated. I just held her while she cried and I cried with her. I dont know how helpful it was, but we are still great friends so I must not have messed it up to badly. Sometimes, when you dont know what to say the two best options are to A. tell the person that you dont know what to say or B. say absolutly nothing...just be there.
And one more thing. Its ok to talk about a person who has died, if the loved one wants to talk about them. My daddy died a little over a year ago. I can talk about him some, but other times Im just not ready. I get really irritated when someone tries to force me talk about him. Just try to watch for clues from the person you are talking to. I tend to get really quiet or change the subject.
Those are just some of my thoughts.
Wife to one amazing husband. Mommy to five blessings through adoption. Expecting our miracle,Miss Lily Grace, 6/24/10.

Offline Simply Kristen

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Re: Help! I just don't know what to say . . .
« Reply #29 on: December 20, 2006, 09:05:16 AM »
I have another question.....

It seems that most of my friends tell me that they struggle with depression and sometimes ADD+Depression. These women do not appear to be in a serious depressions. We take walks, go to the park, talk at the library, etc.

I don't know what to say when they begin talking about their depression, for example:
What their MDs say.......their need to get on Zoloft, ADD meds, and so on.

I generally stay quiet and listen.

Anything else I should do?

Also, I'm not sure when (if ever) it is tactful to suggest nutriotinal/herbal/remedies. I don't want to put them off by basically saying that 90% of what their doc is saying I don't agree with.  :-\.
Everyone seems to think depression is a random disease........Only meds can fix it.