November 3, 2014
I sat down wrong at a meeting with a colleague today. My sciatica wasn’t bothering me until that moment. She asked if this was my first.
“My second,” I replied. “My first died in childbirth.”
I knew I could say that to her. I knew that she was a safe person to speak so bluntly to. And not because she is very interested in infant mortality and maternal health. No, I knew that she was safe because I knew that she had lost her daughter, too. In her case, it was a car accident. But it’s still the same. And it’s different. And I knew that I could simply say that my daughter had died and that she would understand all of that complexity.
And she did. She asked how long it’s been. She told me her date (August 31). She told me how she’s been comforting a friend who lost a child in a car accident about a year ago. I told her about the friends and friends of friends who reached out to me.
“There are so many people walking around with this hurt,” she said, “and no one knows because no one talks about it.”
And it’s true. We don’t talk about it. We don’t talk about it because it hurts. We don’t talk about it because it makes the listener uncomfortable. But we should. We should share our stories.
The other thing she said? The actual anniversary is okay. The anticipation of it is awful. That was my experience. Paula’s, too. You expect the day to be hard. You spend so much time expecting the day to be hard that those days prior to the anniversary are dreadful. And all of the emotion is spent by the time the anniversary arrives.