I was perhaps naive to think that anger wasn’t an emotion that would come along with grief. I think because I wasn’t angry after we found out Gabriel had Trisomy 18, that I thought I just wouldn’t be angry at all. That wasn’t the case. I can’t remember at what point I first realized I was angry, but it was definitely within the first few weeks after Gabriel passed away. I remember talking with our pastor about it before Gabriel’s celebration service. He encouraged me saying even Jesus was angry.
I don’t harbor anger in my heart and it’s not an emotion I feel a lot, but I do have moments where it rises. The other day I got a call from someone who made some very insensitive comments. Ironically, it was someone from church — just because someone is from the church, doesn’t mean they handle things well. No wonder so many people get turned off to the church, but that’s another topic for another day. I’m sure this person had no ill-intent, but their cavalier comments were very hurtful. I found myself steaming for the next hour. I was so angry it felt like my chest was going to explode. And I was hurt by their sense of casualness at the loss of my child. People can be quite thoughtless, but a lot of the time their comments are innocent enough. Something about that conversation was more than I could handle. Lots of tears and some deep sadness later, I let it go and moved on [aside from this post about it].
People are often careful, fearful even, of what to say to us. Some people tip toe around us and the topic of our second child and his death. Some face us head on with a lot of questions. Some speak kind, encouraging words. Some we haven’t heard from in a long time. Some joke and laugh with us. Everyone has a way that they think is best to talk to us, and part of our learning process has been taking in all of these different ways people handle the topic of death. One of the big things we have learned is that people don’t want to say anything that is going to make us sadder or make us feel worse. And my response to that is that it can’t be made sadder. Our baby has already died, so it can’t be worse. What does make us sad, is when our baby isn’t acknowledged. Acknowledging his life, makes us feel better, as does remembering him. He is our son, our family, our child forever, and we’re always thinking about him, so mentioning him to us won’t make it worse.
I have intentionally not written any posts on the topic of things people say because I don’t want to offend anyone, especially people who have been so kind to us as we have walked through this. One day, far down the road, I want to write a post about things that are and aren’t helpful to say for people to reference when they need to. I have a friend who is a cancer survivor at 29. She and I have had very different difficulties in life, but what we have in common is that we both know hard. We’ve shared many stories about the things people say, and have said that we’ll write a book about it one day. I see it being a funny book, one that you read and shake your head laughing through it. People don’t mean to say the wrong things but things like sending a condolences card and putting that you’re expecting and so excited in there, is probably not the best thing to do for someone losing their baby.
I find myself struggling more these days with what to write. When I first started this blog I wanted it to be read. I wanted to share about nutrition with people and be a resource for nutrition in real life. Then I got tired of that and really liked writing about Jack and our life and having a place where I could look back and see our memories recorded — kind of documented for us. Then after we found out about Gabriel, I wanted to share our story. Share what life was like for us as a new Trisomy 18 family. I could care less if anyone read it. I just wanted it to be a true story sort of blog, very real and honest place, where I just shared what was on my heart. Since Gabriel was born it’s been harder to write, and on top of that I think I lost a little of the desire for it to be an honest account of our lives. Partly because I feel like a Debbie Downer when I write every day about grief. It is our life every day, but who wants to read depressing stuff every day. So I struggle with what to write and how much to write and what to continue sharing on here. The main thing that I keep coming back to, is that I want this blog to be a resource to someone like me in the future. That was why I started writing about it in the first place. I was desperate to find a family like ours in those first few days after we learned that something was wrong with our baby. I googled and searched and looked everywhere for someone else’s words about their experience. I needed to see that someone else had done it, that someone else had survived it. I needed to see how their stories unfolded. I was desperate. And there was never a lot I could do for my baby. I ate a whole bunch of ice cream when they said that might help me and thus him gain some weight. But really through everything, that was all I could do for him. So if in his memory and his honor, my words might one day help someone else get through this, then I will write about it. If it helps someone else to not feel alone, like we felt for so long. It’s the least I can do, and it’s all I can do.
We have found tremendous comfort through words of others. We have heard such incredibly, kind things from people. We are so thankful for the most wonderful people encouraging us and lifting us up. We couldn’t have gotten through it without a lot of help and encouragement and strength along the way. And that is what we reflect on most of the time. But occasionally, there’s a day where something slips through the cracks, and like everyone in life, you just have to take it, deal with it, and move on. And then get back to remembering why you’re thankful.