September 14, 2014
Yesterday wasn’t so bad. I had a much harder time on Friday. Which, if you think about it, makes sense. Friday was the anniversary of the last day of hope, a day I couldn’t help but feel the loss more keenly. Yesterday was just the day that would have been my daughter’s birthday.
My mom told me that she and my dad were happy to do whatever I thought seemed right. I said that nothing really did. And she said that then we would do nothing. We just had a fairly normal day. We went to the market. (And bought beautiful local apples. Tried two new-to-us varieties: Buckeye Galas and Royal Galas. Both very good.) I did my laundry. And my mom and I made a very necessary clothes-shopping trip. The weather has turned. And while I have plenty of summer clothes, my winter wardrobe was lacking. I had nothing to wear on the weekends, not enough long-sleeve shirts for work, and had been squeezing my belly into that staple of my wardrobe, my hoodies. I now have two three-piece lounge/pajama sets, enough long-sleeve shirts that wearing one on the weekend won’t mean I’ll run out of clothes to wear to work during the week, and three new hoodies. One is lightweight, one is velour, and the third is a super warm fleece that I’m hoping will last until the next polar vortex hits. (I plan to layer it with a large thick shawl I knit to keep me warm at home in the winter.)
And after lunch back at my parents’ house, I came home. And since I really didn’t sleep the night before, I crashed. At around 6:30, I realized that I was no longer watching an episode of Suits. I was, in fact, merely listening to it. And I also realized that I would fail a listening comprehension quiz about that episode. (Watched the next episode this morning. Sure enough, there were some things that happened in the episode I was listening to last night that I didn’t remember.) So I went to bed. And I slept incredibly well for about four hours. I haven’t slept four solid hours in well over a week. I didn’t sleep as well the rest of the night, but I’m sure I wound up with at least 6 hours total, probably closer to 8. Needless to say, I feel much more awake today.
So, yes, it’s been a year now. And the scabs are mostly healed. The scars will never go away, but I do feel like I’ve reached the stage that the wounds aren’t so raw, so easily torn back open. In the past year I lost my daughter and broke up with my best friend. (Of course, in hindsight, I was always a better friend to her than she ever was to me, so she probably never deserved that status; otherwise, we would still be friends.)
And I’ve been thinking a lot about what I was going to write once I reached this point. Seriously. I’ve been mentally composing this post for months now. I’d like to leave you with some tidbits I’ve learned over the past year. Let’s call it “Say This, Not That”.
Don’t Say: There will always be other children.
Seriously, someone said that to me. Someone who worked at the funeral home (although not the funeral director I worked with). I don’t have a replacement for that. Just don’t say it. Because, of course, you never know what struggles may have gone into having a child.
Don’t Say: You know… followed by your religious beliefs about heaven or angels or reincarnation.
Instead Say: I believe… followed by your religious beliefs about heaven or angels or reincarnation.
Just because you have a particular faith doesn’t mean the grieving party shares your beliefs. You may know something, but don’t project that as a universal truth. For me, I don’t mind if you say you’re praying for me. I may not share your beliefs, but positive thoughts are positive thoughts. I do know that some people are more touchy on that statement than I am, so use at your own discretion.
Don’t Say: You must be so sad because today is X.
Instead Say: I’m thinking of you today.
Period. You don’t have to explain why. You may think that if it were you, Day X or Day Y would be particularly rough days. And maybe, for you, they would be. Just don’t project. (I’m particularly proud of how my friends respected this yesterday. Lots of love and thoughts but no projecting how they thought I was feeling. And I love all of you for it!) Alternative statements would be “light and love”, “*hugs*”, and the ever simple “<3”.
Whatever you may do, DO check that you’re spelling my daughter’s name correctly. There’s nothing quite so grating as a friend sending their best wishes and then seeing that Sofia has been spelled with a PH. I appreciate the sentiment, but it’s not her name. And I try to blame autocorrect. So double-check before you hit “send” or “post”.
Don’t Say: ….
Instead Say: I don’t know what to say.
You can never go wrong with that. It’s a statement that says “I’m here, I’m thinking of you, and I can’t express it.” The one thing that will never be wrong is to simply state that you’re at a loss for words. And, trust me, it’s better than saying nothing.
Here’s hoping the next twelve months are met with happiness and the healthy birth of Sofia’s little sister or brother. I’ll keep you posted.