Facing the Holidays without Teddy

Infant Loss, Infant Death, Infant Loss Awareness, Grief during Holidays

I didn’t anticipate the holidays being difficult. I didn’t even think about it being hard until a fellow loss mom mentioned it to me. Her daughter was born very close to Christmas, so I understood that would be incredibly challenging and emotional. I paid lip service to it being difficult, but I didn’t expect it to be so challenging. Teddy wasn’t born near Christmas. He was born near Easter.

Now that I’m living this out, I’m seeing just how hard it really is. (I’m getting really frustrated with words, by the way. “Hard”, “difficult”, “challenging”… nothing captures how I feel and words seem to fail)

The first glimpse I had into how hard this season was going to be was when I started seeing personalized Christmas cards. I was going to send out Christmas cards this year and I had already planned on using a family picture from Teddy’s newborn session (that never happened….we had his memorial service that day instead). I’m kind of glad we moved so that we aren’t getting bombarded with personalized Christmas photo cards.

The next trigger was very unexpected. I was sitting on the couch, watching Charley play with his toys. Ben was playing Christmas music from his phone. Charley started playing with a Melissa & Doug school bus that we had gotten for him last year for Christmas. I lost it. Teddy should be here. If Teddy were here, we would still be in our old house; we wouldn’t be living with family in Oregon. We’d be sharing our first Christmas together.

Everything feels wrong and I try to push that away a lot. It hurts too much to remember. To remember that it wasn’t just a horrible dream. This really DID happen.

Infant Loss, Infant Death, Infant Loss Awareness, Grief during Holidays

I still cringe when I see babies on Instagram who were born around the same time as Teddy. I have to tap through some friends’ stories. I can’t handle the updates because I’m not living that out with Teddy. It’s not fair.

I even have a hard time reading about other people’s tragedies of infant or child illness. Of course I want the best for them and their babies. No one deserves to lose a child. No one deserves this pain. But in all honesty, I can’t help but wonder —  why them? Why were they spared and my baby wasn’t? And hearing people say “Praise God” for their well being just makes me angry and confused. If God helped this other baby pull through and survive, why didn’t He help my baby? No one can answer that.

We say a lot of things to make ourselves feel better. One thing I’ve learned since going through this is that sometimes those “sayings” can do more harm than good. The loss is unbearable. The silence is uncomfortable. But we have to learn to sit with others in their grief. Don’t offer platitudes. What does that do for the family? It does nothing and sometimes causes more pain. All it does is make YOU feel better because you can’t handle the sadness and the discomfort of such a tragic loss.

I realize I’m being extremely bold, honest and raw in this blog post. My purpose in writing about Teddy and my grief isn’t to make others feel bad. It isn’t to “teach” you how to support those who are grieving (everyone is different). My purpose is to shed light on what it’s like to lose a child and hopefully, in the process, make someone feel less alone and also make the subject less taboo.

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I didn’t receive a ton of questions for this blog post, but one of them was if we had determined what was the cause of Teddy’s death. We have not learned anything new. The initial report from the medical examiner is the same as it is now: cause of death, undetermined. Apparently the M.E. reviewing the case had a stroke halfway through it, so one of his colleagues is reviewing the case and starting all over again (hence why it’s been over 6 months and we haven’t heard anything). However, it’s very likely that we won’t have any answers and that the cause of death will still be deemed undetermined.

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Like I’ve said before, I can’t tie this up in a pretty bow. It’s hard to conclude a post such as this. But maybe the lack of a “conclusion” is appropriate for how Ben and I are feeling right now.

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4 Comments

  1. Stephanie Flores
    December 12, 2018 / 1:33 am

    Emily,
    I can never imagine what your going through and I know my post must be so hard for you too see sometimes! I know we’ve never met in person but I feel a strong connection to you and to be a friend that can do whatever I can to do what you want! To remember Teddy and to talk about it with you! I can always listen to you and do what you want, I can be silent or be angry with you. I will never know how you feel but I can only imagine the feelings you have. Xoxo

    • elindsey
      Author
      February 28, 2019 / 10:52 pm

      Thank you Stephanie <3 So thankful for you.

  2. Kelly
    January 17, 2019 / 2:27 pm

    Unfortunately in many infants the heart stops beating without a reason. They are found dead in their sleep without an explanation. May I ask why you moved?
    You’re beautiful and I’m happy for your pregnancy

    • elindsey
      Author
      February 28, 2019 / 10:54 pm

      I’m pretty sure that’s what happened and we just don’t have evidence of that or a reason for it.
      We moved because we’d always dreamed of moving to the NW. I’m from the area and it seemed like a good time to make the move.
      Thank you so much.
      xo

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