Pearls of Wisdom
I was surprised and humbled by the number of friends who changed sleep habits after Clara’s death. Some told me it was her passing that made the difference, others said it was in reading posts I had made to Facebook. If I could share just one piece of advice it would be this: Not everyone will listen or change.
I liken this to be similar to the lesson we teach our kids about touching breakables. We tell them don’t touch because it might break. In our loss, we share with the world that safe sleep is really important. It reduces the risk of SIDS and it does save lives. It will be your closest family and friends who ignore you that will hurt the most. It will hurt because it makes you feel like they don’t care or remember your baby. It feels like they are saying, “it can’t happen to me”. They will post pictures of their “beautiful” baby room and you will feel the sting of tears and the searing anger when you see their crib decked out with the latest puffy crib bumper. You will worry about the ones who sleep in the latest trendy “rock & play sleepers”. You will cry when you see an image on Facebook of a new baby sleeping on their tummy on top of blankets or bedsharing. You will pray for every baby.
Your first reaction will be to tell them that is dangerous. It is okay to do remind them once, or maybe twice, but please be gentle and remember this one thing: YOU CAN’T FORCE THEM TO CHANGE. Quite the opposite can happen. You will cause them to dig their heels in and shut you out. You absolutely should be sharing safe sleep habits but please, please don’t shove it down your friend’s throat (even though you really want to). Kindness goes a long way and is far more effective in reaching people.
Sadly, even seven years later, I still have friends and family that continue to use unsafe sleep environments. Every day I pray that they won’t have to live through the pain that I have. Each October I hope that my daily posts reach them. I pray Clara’s life and passing will somehow touch them in a way that causes them to change their habits. I pray for the day when no more families are surprised by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Finally, I pray for the day when no family has to deal with the pain and guilt of losing a baby to a sleep-accident unrelated to SIDS.
Relationships remind me of this critter car in my image. We are all different and unique in our experiences and yet, we have found a way to journey together. Each has a strength they can share and each has a weakness they are seeking help with. It is that support system that this griever sought.
One thing I didn’t expect was the number of new relationships I would find through my grief. I have met so many wonderful people, many that I still talk to often. These relationships were much needed as some of my previous connections changed. I have come to understand that friendships come and go with the seasons of life. It is a rarity that friendships end, they simply change. Some of my best relationships and friendships took a back seat in my time of need. I had to remind myself that they would be there when this season of grief changed. As the years have passed, those relationships did come back. Some were the same, others were different. Today I am thankful to have so many people to reach out to when I need. I also have a fond appreciation for those who reach out to me at random and become the connection I have been secretly needing.