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.
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.
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.
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.