Thursday, December 1, 2011
An Open Letter to Bereaved Parents (and Those Who Love Us)
What happens when you meet someone for the first time? Whether it's a party, new job, or first date, the format is kind of the same. "Hi, I'm Karen. Hello, I'm Heather. What do you do? Are you married? Do you have kids?" and so on.
For a bereaved parent, this is a kick in the teeth and a dreaded moment. As time passes, we can sort of prepare ourselves and the sting is less severe. When you think about those tiny, seemingly inconsequential instances being such a big deal to us, just imagine something like our child's birthday that we don't get to celebrate or a Christmas that passes for which there's no need to buy presents.
Then, there are all of the moments in between. Being a bereaved parent changes a person. I've said this over and over. Those new members of my club are like bobble heads soaking it in and learning to live it. My friend Steph and I talk frequently about writing a How-To book for newbies or especially their loved ones. No matter how we try, people don't seem to understand how to be with us after our child dies.
The biggest thing for me is that you need to realize every part of every day is influenced by the death of Olivia. I have a new norm. I have moved on. But, she is with me. She will always be with me. Ignoring that will only cause me pain. If I am having a particularly bad day, and those are far less numerous than they were three years ago, then allow it. Love me through it. (Jill, I love that phrase and I love that you want to do it.)
This Christmas will be the fourth without the love of my life. This year has been particularly harsh for so many reasons. It is making the loss of my girl magnified right now. Today has been one of the worst grief days this year. I have cried for hours when I wasn't at work. I talked with someone who has seen me through some of the worst of it. I talked with someone who is new at it. Both offered support from different perspectives. The common thing is that they listened. They asked what I needed from them.
The problem with telephones is there aren't hugs. I need someone out there who is technologically minded to create a telephone with arms. They don't have to be the arms of the person on the other end. They just need to be arms that can hug when needed. It could be an added feature like a data package. Hugs 5/mo $5.95 unlimited $19.95.
I wish no one knew the devastating pain of the death of their child. It never goes away. It leaves scars on your soul that never go away. I am a stronger, wiser, blah blah blah. I am who I am. I don't know who that is some days. I am Kelly's wife and I'm trying to be a good one. I am a friend and I try to be a good one. I am a sister, an aunt, a niece, a cousin... I am an employee to several and I try to be a good one.
I am Olivia's mother. Being that without her to hold is the problem.