Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What This Bereaved Parent Needs

I’m writing this on the eve of a very difficult day for me and my husband.  Ten years ago, on August 19th, we had our first child, a daughter named Emily Rose.  She only lived 36 hours.  We miss her every day, so it’s not a difficult day because our grief is any greater.  It’s difficult because it prompts more reflection about her short life and how her loss has impacted our lives.  I say “our” but I can only truly speak for myself.

It seems throughout the years, with each anniversary I focus on a slightly different aspect of this part of my life.  I don’t always write about it—in fact I only posted about it one other time.  I don’t even talk about it all that often, though I think about her Every. Single. Day.  Without fail.  It’s not an easy subject to bring up.  And when I do, it often comes out rather awkward.

What I have come to realize is that I help contribute to this awkwardness by NOT mentioning it.  Sure, it’s not an easy subject to bring up, but there are many times I chose not to say anything when there is an opportunity.  I think I’ve perfected this to the point where people in my everyday life, people who I’ve known for a long time, forgot.

On Friday last week, while I was preparing to be out of the office today through Wednesday, many people, including those that have worked with for the past thirteen years, told me to enjoy my time off or asked where I was going.  All perfectly normal responses to learning someone will be off for a number of days—especially during the summer.  But, I couldn’t help feeling disappointed that those who knew what happened had forgotten.

Kind of unfair of me.  But kind of not, too.  It seems I’ve worried so long about protecting others from such an unpleasant topic—not wanting to be a “downer”—that I’ve helped erase it from others' minds.  But even with family, who I know have NOT forgotten, I may have given the impression I don’t need help every once in a while.

I find myself without a babysitter this year.  This may upset a few who have helped in the past, or would help if I asked.  But after ten years, I wish I didn’t have to ask for someone to watch my kids so my husband and I can go to the cemetery.  It’s a given.  It's hard enough thinking about her birthday as it gets closer.  The last thing I want to do is turn it into a production; who, when, for how long...  Or have to make my way down a list of people who are working, or will be away, to find someone.  It's gets frustrating so it's easier for me not to ask.

The best thing in the world for a grieving parent on a day like tomorrow is for someone to call and ask, “Hey, do you need someone to watch the kids?”  (Accompanied by "bring them over" so I don't have to worry about cleaningnot even joking. :) )

The second best thing would be to know my family went and paid their respects as well.  I have one friend who mails us a note card every year.  Without fail!  While I appreciate all the sentiments I receive, whether verbal or through e-mail, this one stands out.  This one touches me and makes me really feel Emily is remembered.

Each year it seems my focus changes, other needs may change, but this remains the same.  There’s not a lot anyone can do to erase what’s going on inside our hearts and minds, but these small things would be a tremendous help.

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