Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Catch 22

The below article was written by Maggie Stockmann and provides a look at daily life for bereaved parents.


How many kids do you have? Is she your oldest?

Such a simple question with such complicated answers. All that goes into deciding how to answer – Will I see this person again? Are we in public? Am I strong enough to tell the truth? Am I strong enough to give the quick happy answer? Compromise?

No, she is our second…we lost her brother 2 years ago.
Yes, she is our oldest at home.
Yes, she is our first daughter.
Simply "Yes."

And yet, my promise to my son is that I will never forget, never diminish, always speak up for the lost babies. So why is it so hard to give a simple… "No, she is our second. Her brother watches over her from heaven." Is it because the happiness people are showing is quickly replaced by sadness in their eyes? Is it difficult because I strive to make all around me comfortable. If I say, "No," then others feel the need to comment or question. Will I then take the time to comfort them and make it easier?

"If you know someone who has lost a child, and you're afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died -- you're not reminding them. They didn't forget they died. What you're reminding them of is that you remembered that they lived, and that is a great gift."
~ Elizabeth Edwards July 3, 1949 - December 7, 2010.

And yet again, I feel so honored when Frankie is remembered by my family and friends. I am blessed to have a great friend whose first daughter share a birthday with my son. Each year when we celebrate Mia’s birthday with cake and ice cream, my dear friend remembers to call and offer her own "Happy Birthday" to me for my son. I will forever have a connection with her on this day. So why do I struggle to help others remember him?

The question that gives me a long pause lately…When are you going to have number 2? All I want to say is “We did on January 29th. Her name is Molly.” But I don’t want to become someone who people are afraid to talk to, afraid to share their happy baby news, afraid to include in events for fear of upsetting or saying the wrong thing. I don’t want to feel like I did shortly after his birth – an oddity that others wanted to help move on. I do not want to give the impression that I am stuck grieving my son. I miss him each and everyday but I am able to find joy in life again. I love my daughter and cherish every day with her as I know all too well that they are a true blessing.

In cases like this, is there ever a right thing to say? Isn’t everything a Catch-22? How do you answer this question?


Pam J said...

This deeply touched my heart! I feel the exact same way... We lost our son Liam almost 5 years ago. Our daughter Harper is 3 /12... I am asked about her being an "only child" all of the time. I usually mention Liam ...because I want to acknowledge his life. Sure, the person asking is sometimes taken aback by the sadness of the story - but I hope that when they see that I am comfortable with the discussion, they think of the blessings in their lives.. and are thankful.

Lisa R said...

This could not be more true. You took the thoughts right out of my head and put them into words. I struggle with this all of the time. Pam J. I like your response to the question. If the person asking the question can see that you are comfortable talking about it but yet also realize their own blessings you are still remembering their life.

Mike Kittinger said...

II always say, "Three living and one in heaven." The conversation just develops from there but I will not deny my baby in heaven.

Hannah said...

I wish I was comfortable talking about it. I try to be, but I find it hard for me to even acknowledge the loss of my son. 1-1/2 years later and I still find it too difficult to talk or think about. I haven't even spoken his name out loud. I suppose it is something that will come with time?

Michelle Foster said...

I love that Elizabeth Edwards quote. I wish people would bring up my son more. It's not more painful to hear his name. It's actually the opposite. It means people remember him and care about him. Acknowledging the fact that he lived, he was here and he mattered to someone other than me and my husband.

Great article.

Hope, Peace and Honesty said...

When people ask me if I ever wanted a girl (I have three earthly boys and an angel daughter) I have three general answers depending upon on my mood. One is "More than you know," the second is " I am blessed to have all that I have been given:" the third is " I was lucky enough to be blessed with a girl for a very short time and it was a wonderful experience". My responses depend upon my psychological state, still after 15 years not a day goes by that I don't think about our sweet baby Kate, most days are better than others.

Juliana Wolf said...

I was just discussing this very thing the other day with my husband. I answer differently depending on the person, and the situation. Some days I say I have 1 child other days I mention all three. I used to feel guilty about not mentioning my boys who passed away. This is no longer the case. Just because I don't mention them doesn't mean that I am not always thinking about them.

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