This weekend, I went home to visit my family. It’s been a year since I left and a lot has changed. In fact, last July I found out that I was expecting a little girl. If everything had gone according to plan, she would have accompanied me on the visit to meet her older cousin (only by several weeks). So I’m sure you can imagine how difficult it was to arrive empty-handed, with no one to greet him.
But then I saw him, in all his twenty-something pound glory. Technically, I met him during video chats with my sister but it was nothing like the little munchkin sitting in front of me. At first, I struggled to fight back tears. Okay, honestly the entire time I struggled to “be okay”. But in spite of that, I was just so happy to meet the fluffiness that is my nephew. Did I mention he likes me?
Which brings me to the point of this post. I can’t even believe I’m saying this but..I guess I do want a baby after all. Perhaps in my haste to “get over” the loss of my first baby, I forgot that there might be hope for me. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I want to try tomorrow, nor am I saying that I’m ready for another visit with him. Honestly, it was emotionally exhausting. After they left, I gave into what seemed to be my grieving alarm which had been going off for HOURS. It was overwhelming to think about all the milestones that my daughter would have reached by now. She would be teething, smiling, slipping things into her mouth, curiously scratching on surfaces to figure out their texture, enjoying breezy evening walks in her stroller, and learning to hold herself up. But she will never do those things. I’m incredibly happy for my sister that he can but it still doesn’t change that Marième never will. I just need everyone to understand what that feels like for a woman who has lost a child.
Anyways, I close this for the first time with advice for folks with children that are close to someone who has lost a baby (or babies).
- Don’t push your children on them, realize that no matter how far they are into the grieving process, the hurt will always be there (even if they had children before or after their loss). Do not assume that just because they express interest in your child one moment that they will always want to be with your child. Grief works on a moment-by-moment basis. It comes in waves. That’s just the nature of the beast. It has nothing to do with you or your child.
- Remember important dates (or at least a round-about date). It’s great that your child has birthdays but do you remember the day that your loved one lost their child? What about their original due date? I’m not saying you need to send a card or anything but realize that anniversaries and birthdays will always be extremely difficult for them. Maybe they won’t make it to your child’s party next year (or ever) but yet again–this should not be taken personally.
- Remember their child’s name (if they had one) and use it when you refer to them. It’s more personal and frankly, your loved one will probably be happy that someone acknowledges that their child still exists.
- Finally, let them know that they don’t have to move on. Whatever they feel, when they feel it, how they feel it is valid and you care.
Do you have additional tidbits of advice or questions of how to ‘deal’ with a grieving friend/family member? Let me know!