Your adorable children

You know I love your children.  Many of you started having them years ago and I loved them right away!  I have played with them, babysat them, brought presents to them, and driven miles over the years to see them (I mean you ;)).  I have been to their baby showers and birthday parties.  You know that I love them, but taking this break from them over the last nine months has been very important to me.  Please know that I don't love them any less.

Thank you for understanding.  Thank you for telling me about your baby shower or child's birthday party instead of just sending the invitation (I bought you the present anyway...of course....I am not a monster!).  I know you didn't want to leave me out and weren't sure what to do.  It was compassionate to ask.  I opened an invitation recently and it took my breath away.  I know it was sent because the sender loves me and didn't want to "leave me out" but, please know - I am ok with being left out.  I have been purposely leaving myself out for months.  Thank you for compassionately leaving us off of your Christmas card list.  It was a relief not getting reminders of the joyous season.  We did get one set of hand drawn pictures from some cousins, which I had to immediately throw away.  Sorry!  It was too much - scrawly drawings of Maxie as an angel and Ted and I standing sadly (I think even with tears) underneath.  Oh my goodness - totally way more terrible than a photo of the family would have been.  Thank you for not talking about how cute your kids are or all of the wonderful things they are saying.  Believe me - I KNOW how hard it is to resist.  Thank you for keeping your worries about their sniffly noses and 24 hour flus out of our conversation.  You must know that I envy even the poopy diapers and the late nights with no sleep.

I know that many of you have children who know about our losing Maxie.  I know how impossible it is to explain to a child why a baby died.  Heck, I don't understand at all how I actually live in a world where babies die....where MY baby died.  It shouldn't be this way.  I know your kids say "the darnedest things" about Maxie being in heaven and Maxie being an angel and so much more.  I know you love to share with me how cute it is that your living child said something about our baby who died.  It guts me.  Unless your child "sees dead people" ala "The Sixth Sense" (because I even like toddler medium/psychics) - I don't really want to know about it at this time.  I might in the future because I truly believe children are more empathetic than adults.  There is a sense of loss they feel around Maxie's passing that most adults are too guarded to feel.  Sometimes what you are telling me is less cute and more poignant - as in the case of a story my fellow SIDS mommy friend, Katie, told me about her daughter kissing Maxie's photo on the computer screen.  Her daughter lost a little brother and so she is in the same boat with us - grieving.  Poor baby!  Somehow her story was comforting and not painful.  Beth told me something profound that Sadie said, right after I found out I was pregnant with Baby M.  Sadie, without even knowing I was pregnant, said something like "Auntie Abby is gonna have another baby soon and then she won't be so sad".  It felt like Maxie had whispered it into her ear while she was sleeping.  Sadie and Max had a beautiful relationship so - I'll take it!  Sadie loved Max!  Also touching was my niece Mandy, who after Maxie's passing, cried for weeks and wanted to visit him at the cemetery all of the time.  Talk about heart breaking.  But, to know that Mandy loved Max so deeply touched my soul.  She was able to express a love and longing for Maxie that nearly no adult member of our family has been able to do.  I am very happy that Maxie was so loved by his cousins.  It is one of the many blessings of his very short life.

Most of the time, the super cute stuff your kid says about my kid's death is shocking to me, even if I smile and say, "oh, that's hard" or "I'm sorry.  That sounds tough to explain".  I am just being nice.  What I am really thinking is "Holy Sh**!  Make it stop.  Make it stop."  It is SO painful.  It was shocking to see the scribble of a little child's signature in Maxie's funeral guest book and it is shocking to hear the stories of your kids trying to make sense out of Maxie's death.  I am sorry for the lessons you have had to teach your child so early, I am sorry for the lessons I have had to learn, but please try to leave me out of it.  One woman I know has been trying to compare her grief to mine since Maxie stopped breathing by talking about how hard it is to explain Maxie's death to her son.  I know her son misses Max but I bet I miss Max more.  It is too painful for me to listen to and I know this woman cannot expect my sympathy (but she does).  I have to be the insensitive one again and say that I think you will figure it out.  Whatever you say will be just fine.  Having to explain death to your child is hard, I am sure, but having to lose your child to death is one thousand times HARDER - I promise.

And one other thing (and enough of people have said it to me at this point that I think it is safe to say that I am not pointing my finger at anyone in particular) - not having met the right person to have children with and being sad about not knowing what the future holds is indeed a grief.  I have had it myself.  You wonder if having a family is in the cards for you, when you have imagined your whole life that OF COURSE it would be.  Not having had that opportunity yet is not the same as watching your child die and not having him/her here anymore -just as feeling lonely when I was single was not the same grief as the grief of someone who had lost a husband.  Death and extreme disappointment are not the same.  I can relate to your grief because I am a human being but it is not a comparable experience.  So, you can tell me about it but don't tell me about it in the context of your relating to my loss.  It is just one more thing that isn't at all the same.

I know I have so many rules.  My life is out of control and I am just trying to give a different perspective to you and also trying protect my husband and I from some of the stuff that has been the most hurtful.  I know it feels like there is so much that is off limits.  I guess there is just a never ending stream of hurtful things one can say and do to a bereaved parent.  Lucky for us, most of the people who just can't follow what their heart says is appropriate have fallen by the side of the road anyway.  Most of the people left in our lives are people who are intuitive enough to know how to be sensitive with our grief (and to treat us like human beings who have lost the most important thing in our whole lives).  Mostly, we are surrounded (not physically but emotionally) by people who are very sensitive. Still, this particular issue of your children keeps slipping through the cracks.  I am not mad at anyone for saying the wrong thing or inappropriately bringing your child around us unnecessarily.  Maybe you really didn't know that it would hurt us until I just told you. Consider yourself informed.  We probably should have put a stop to it long ago but didn't.  Even the most sensitive friends tell me about how cute it is that their living kid is talking about my non-living kid.  Honestly, it isn't that much different than you telling me how you hug your kid a little tighter.  It is all pieces of that part of you that want to show me what you have and I don't.  Trust me, I am fully aware.  Part of me agrees that it is sweet but my heart cannot take it anymore.  It just can't.  Pretty soon, we will have a new baby boy and, as selfish as it sounds, I think it may not be until then that we are able to welcome back all of the little people we love into our lives again.  I think Baby M will help soften the blow.  Even then however, we will want you to be sensitive.  Thank you, as always, for understanding.


Allisonkovac said...

Perhaps the parents who are telling you how sad their child is, the parents who had their child sign the book, or draw the picture, are the same parents who are allowing their children to express their sadness and fears so that their emotions can be validated and supported.

I think it is a valuable lesson perhaps that parents shouldn't share their child's sadness/drawings/signatures with you with the intent of gaining your much more can you be expected to give?

One can only hope that these children will grow up to emotionally support a friend, a sister, an aunt, a brother in need-perhaps to support a bereaved parent like yourselves one day...

One can only hope.

rebecca Patrick-Howard said...

Recently, a friend was over with her 5 year old. He stood over Iris and yelled, "Toby died, he died, yeah he's dead...and YOU might die, too!" All the while, my friend sat there and smiled and laughed and patted him on the back, going, "I know baby...and we miss him very much." Totally traumatized me.

I'm with you on this.

maxiesmommy said...

I think it is important to encourage the drawing and is important for the child to try and make sense of this senseless event. All I am saying is that I would like to be left out of the process. I haven't made sense myself yet. These children are special - so was Max - that is exactly why it hurts so much.

Tiffany said...

omg, i'm so sorry. that would be very traumatizing to me as well. ((hugs))

Tiffany said...

i understand completely. sending you love. i'm always here if you need someone to talk to

Susan Ireland said...

Yep - I have a friend's daughter who does this a lot too. I think I am sort of ok with it... except at specific low days when it is too much... I think the adults are much worse...

The ones that came to mind was shortly after Catherine died, one friend told me she had decided not to tell her son that Catherine died in hospital unless he got scared of hospitals - I mean - why did I need to hear that? Another mother told me she didn't know what to say to her child - did I have any ideas? Yeah - like my only child just died out of the blue, and I have been devoting my emotional energy into how to tell other people's children gently.

Maxie's Mommy - one to be aware of, as I see you are pg - when my second daughter was born, lots of parents (who obviously had children the same age as Catherine - that is how I knew them) came to visit us. They usually bought their Catherine aged child - this was mostly the first time we'd had any children in the house - and nearly all of them wanted to pose with the new baby. So there you go - the Dead Sibling Picture (gasp).

I think the thing is - for us, our children's death are an everyday present - her absence colours my every thought. For other people, she is a child they knew who died ages ago. She just isn't part of their daily consideration any more.