By: Traci Cooley (Bereaved Mother, Tampa, Florida)
Shortly after my daughter Malena died, I started a home based business to keep busy. During
the course of this business venture, I was able to attend the company's annual convention
These conventions are geared toward encouraging and motivating the sales teams to sell, sell,and sell. There are workshops and motivational speakers all pushing you into “expanding your
business”. As I sat through many of these speakers, most of what they said I related to
surviving the death of my precious daughter rather than expanding my business. Three years
later, one of the workshops I attended that weekend keeps popping into my head as my grief
process extends past what the world finds “comfortable”.
The workshop was called “Balcony People and Basement People”.
Basement people-are people who constantly pull you down or discourage you.
Basement people, in our grieving process can and do cause us much hurt and distraction. They are people who do not wish to hear about your child; they do not want to talk about your hurt, or actively help you go through the grief process. Basement people are also people who say ugly or uneducated things about your loss such as “Aren’t you over that by now?” Basement people criticize your bereavement or question every method you chose in dealing with your loss. Basement people make everything about them and their feelings; disregarding the fact that it is your child who died. Basement people can cause a lot of hurt (often, unintended) to you during your bereavement process.
Balcony people-are the people who pull you forward and along the road of grief.
Balcony people come beside you and cry with you, spend time listening to you talk of your child and tell you stories they remember, too. Balcony people encourage you to seek ways to heal and process your loss. They understand that the way you chose to deal with the death of your beloved child may not be their way but it is what is good for you. Balcony people understand when you do not want them around but stand by just in case you change your mind. Balcony people cook or clean for you because you just do not have the energy. Or, they do not comment when the house is a little (or a lot) messier than it used to be. Balcony people understand that you will never be the “old” you and help you to find the “new” you who will emerge through the grief and loss you have sustained.
Take the time to identify the Balcony people and Basement people in your life. Spend
most of your time with the Balcony people and try to limit the time with Basement
people; if possible. Balcony people pull you up, cheer you on, encourage you and take
care of you when you most need it. Basement people pull you down, criticize and find
fault in what you do. Balcony people and Basement people; we all have them in our
lives. It is our choice of who we allow to be part of our bereavement process and our
lives. I choose my Balcony people.
When I read what Traci wrote, I realized that I too, am experiencing this very thing. The "basement" people and the "balcony" people.
As for "balcony" people. I have several. I've been a bit surprised that they are not the people I thought, would surely be my "balcony" people. But, I'm learning...that people are often times, not what they seem. The death of your child, brings a whole new light to the faces of the people that you once knew so well. The death of your child, puts EVERYTHING into perspective.
I do understand that some people, will not be able to accept the fact that I am not the same person that I was 15+months ago. I m just not. I can't help it. I didn't ask for this change to take place. I sure as HELL don't like it and I want nothing to do with it. BUT..this is the way it is. This is me now. Either bear with me, as I find my way through this living nightmare and accept the fact that I am trying hard to find the "new" me. Or, become a "basement" person and I will leave you behind. Quite honestly, I do not need "basement" people dragging me down. This is gonna be a very long and bumpy journey for me and my family. While I/we find my/our way through this bumpy, twisting, never ending journey.
I will be holding tight to my "balcony" people.