How To Tell A 3 Year Old His Mom Died Taking Death to Parties – Why Mentioning a Loved One Who Has Recently Passed Away Matters

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Taking Death to Parties – Why Mentioning a Loved One Who Has Recently Passed Away Matters

If you have recently lost a loved one and are expecting to attend a social event:

Be warned: the people you spent the occasion with did not understand the importance of mentioning your loved one. Instead, they might think that from no mentioning him or her, this will be better because they don’t want to “hurt” or “make you cry”. Now, that may be A-Okay with you.

But if it is not and you discover, to your growing disbelief, that everyone is politely avoiding the elephant in the living room – the fact that you have recently lost a significant person (or animal) in your life – you have four choices:

1. Say nothing and internalize the hurt and anger (not recommended).

2. Tell someone that no mentioning your loved one really hurts.

3. Make a memory of the person yourself and share it.

4. He leaves – either in agonized silence or after a spectacular hissy-fit (highly recommended – see below).

If you are hosting a party or family function and one of your guests has recently experienced the loss of a loved one:

Here is a snippet from my personal experience that you may find useful (the following scene happened two months after the sudden death of my husband of 32 years):

“HE’S GONE!” The cry: “BUT IT DOESN’T MEAN IT!”

So I run out my cousin’s door, leaving behind a house full of family trying to celebrate my mother’s seventy-fifth birthday. However, since there is a snow storm on this particular evening in early December, I have to stop at the front door, later my awkward outlet, to put on my jacket, gloves and boots. Only then did I charge down the icy front passage, stomping as angrily as possible in my ridiculously high-heeled new boots. I climb into my car, slam the door and slowly make my way home on icy roads.

“They didn’t toast John!” I got on the phone from my living room.

“Maryanne?” says Dawson, on the other end of the line. “What’s wrong?”

“I was (sob) at my mom’s birthday and my family didn’t even include her (sob) in the toast before dinner. I can’t believe it!

“Do you want me to come?”

“Can you?”

A few minutes later the doorbell rang. But it’s not Dawson; she is Dale’s wife.

“So they sent you, huh?” i say

“Yes.”

“I’m quite angry.”

“Oh, we got that together.”

“I can’t believe my own family. Not one person mentioned John all night – not even at a toast to my mother

My sister-in-law freaked out. “Everybody just feels terrible about it, but I think we all thought we’d try to give him a break from the injury.”

“Ah!” I let out a shrill laugh. “Well that certainly didn’t work.”

“You’re right. We teased and I’m sorry.”

“Mentioning John’s name and talking about him,” I say, “is really important to me because if we don’t, he will be forgotten.”

“Do you know, Maryanne, that at that dinner table tonight, John was on all our minds?”

I shrug. “If no one says anything, how should I?”

The bell rings. I left Dawson.

“Well,” she tells him. “We made a mistake.”

“It happens,” he replies. “It’s hard to know what to say sometimes.”

“Here’s a suggestion then,” I say. “Without mentioning John, they will bury him much faster than the dirt they threw on his grave.”

I have the double goldfish (both mouths removed). Has the beautiful widow’s facade finally crumbled?

And there you have it. If you are honest and open with people who genuinely love and support you, then most people will try to do better – if to know better. Unfortunately, it’s usually the person suffering the recent loss of a loved one who ends up bringing death to the party. But even though loss and pain are facts of life; them can be significantly relieved when shared memories – instead of avoiding them – are placed on the table.

Because trust me, an elephant in the living room should not be ignored.

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