I say this first because I know that I have done the following. I'm just as guilty as anyone. I have caused pain without thinking.
I can only admit it, ask for your forgiveness and go on.
I recently went to the funeral of a dear friend. She was there for me when my son was born, stayed with me at the hospital until my husband arrived, and even more importantly- was there when he left.
Her father had died. It was unexpected in that her Daddy was a fighter. He had never given up, even when left with roughly 15% of heart function. It was unexpected in that he had already been given a cancer free diagnosis two weeks earlier.
Someone said "Well, so it was expected..." when they heard of the recent struggles. I was discussing this later with another sweet lady whose family is battling their own fight. And I said "it really wasn't expected...". And she said "Does it matter?" And although I know that this wasn't actually what I was trying to say at this moment in time, I have said it. Did say it.... especially before I knew. And really whether it was expected or not doesn't matter. It isn't the main point at all.
Knowing means that you have had great loss. It is when people pull away or minimize your loss or take away the right for you to grieve. And it isn't just society as a whole, the child loss community and support groups do it to ourselves.
Society, and all of us to some degree, do this or have done it. We qualify things- "if you'd have had your child longer, it would be worse"... really? And did you love your child less at five than seventeen years? ". And maybe it is how we take away cards... if you have another child, or remarry, or make a decision after facing infertility (whether adoption or accepting your family as it is) you can't mourn anymore. Sometimes we even try to do it to ourselves.... but it doesn't work that way.
And we have all read the psychological babble that says with expected loss you experience anticipatory grief that may take away some of the shock of the death. I really don't know how true that is. And if you think about it, we don't allow anticipatory grief anymore. Like if you do not think positively until the moment of death, God or karma won't allow you your miracle healing. I wonder sometimes if parents of children with terminal illness or people facing cancer ever wish they could just lay it out; ask for people to just listen to them say how much they are facing rather than put on a mask that they think is expected. I know that parents that have lost a child to a long disease are often kicked out of support groups once their child dies, as if it is not an acceptable outcome and the family has or is doing something wrong. Do we have a cult of the pink ribbon in a similar fashion for cancer?
The reality of any great loss, is that when you are at the epicenter, circumstances matter little. What you feel is your reality and it isn't wrong and you aren't facing it wrong. Your world is gone, just shadows on the pavement. The emotional equivalent of Hiroshima. It might change things for a casual observer who is miles away- perhaps a more distant relative or friend, but it matters nothing to you. And down the road, even when your card has been taken away, the devastation hasn't gone magically away.
So I am sorry- for my own part I have played.