Platitudes, No More by Lois Hewitt

I used to be the self-crowned queen of platitudes. I, as with most people, spewed them with only the best of intentions. I wanted to be helpful. It wasn’t until I actually experienced them did I start to wonder.

In my 20s and 30s I tried desperately to get pregnant. In my mind, a child was going to save me from my depression and anxiety…not a healthy ideal I know.

I had, just a few years before, experienced an unplanned pregnancy that ended in an adoption. At that time, I could barely take take of myself let alone a child. Now I was more stable, married and ready to try motherhood.

Weeks went by, then months and then years and no baby. I begged God and made deals with Him to give me a child but to no avail. As the years passed, my mental state deteriorated. I was despondent.

During this time, loving and well-meaning friends told me I was thinking about it too much. That it would happen when I least expected it. It never did. I was told not to stress about it, it would just happen. It never did. Lots of platatudes filled with love filled me with anger and grief.

Not only was I living with my guilt and remorse (was I being punished for my earlier sins?) but I was living with something I could not control. That manifested in overwhelming OCD which I dealt with before but took on a life of its own.

All around me I only saw pregnant women and babies. I wanted to join the club so badly, to do it right this time, but I was denied admission to that club.

All around me I heard it would happen. I finally accepted that sometimes things just do not work out. That is when I started to rethink my personal policy on giving freely platatudes in situations I knew nothing about.

How could I tell someone that a child lost was in a better place? Or that a medical situation will always get better…or any other number of circumstances. Sometimes life is pain and no amount of flowery words will take the pain away. I’m sorry but that’s a reality.

When someone wishes you a good day, most people mean it. I am not against the kind words spoken that are said in a way to try to brighten ones day. But when someone is in pain, a platitude can minimize said pain. Telling me to just wait, it will happened, made my grief feel unvalued.

Now I either say nothing or offer my sincerest help if needed. Just listening can bring more comfort than a string of pretty words.

Please do not misunderstand me, I love comforting words. I love inspiring words. I pray for a return to graciousness and civility. I’m speaking of those moments in one’s life when pain and grief and fear have veiled them. My grief was so much at one time, my words to others seemed hollow. I could only see my pain and felt as if it was marginalized. I cannot do that to others.

So for today I will be more conscious of those around me. I will think before I speak and will try to never demean a person’s experience no matter how unintentional.

So with that said, I wish you all a good day…and I really do mean it.

If you are in pain today, please find someone near you that you can talk to. You are NOT alone!


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