I think it’s fair to say that the “Baby loss Community” has been rocked by 2 events in the last few days: the loss of Sam to be with her baby Willow and the response by Dear Abby in the US over her response to a letter regarding how a family was responding to an aunt’s grief.
I’ve read a fair few responses to the Dear Abby letter and they say it far better than me. But I will say is this: do what you need to do. If you want to spend your baby’s birthday with family (maybe having a party) go for it. If you want to have a day out to get away from it all fine. If you want to hide under the duvet; do it. One more time for the cheap seats at the back: DO WHAT YOU NEED TO DO.
For us, we’ve normally kept things low key. For Alexandra’s 1st birthday we had a day out with Humphrey the Wonder Dog in Whitby as I was heavily pregnant with Ophelia we didn’t want to plan anything too risky. Now I think about it I can’t really remember what we did for her 2nd. It was the run up to Ophelia’s 1st birthday and naturally that took over a lot of thought. What I do remember was the huge drop off of people remembering that it was her birthday and this drops year on year.
Having checked the diary Andrew worked from home….. Ah ha; I’ve now checked my personal Instagram I’ve discovered that we went to York for a few hours as the weather was too bad to go to Whitby again! That there is grief brain in action; my memory at times is utterly shot. Alexandra’s 3rd birthday was again spent in York visiting the balloon festival. We try not to plan anything but keep an eye on events that we might want to take O too. Last year I made a birthday cake for Alexandra with star candles as we had too many eggs and I like baking. For us as a family we don’t tend to bother trying to organise a big event for family or for fundraising because the amount of faff (and sometimes whining) that we get trying to organise Ophelia’s birthday thing that it’s not worth trying to do something “big” for Alexandra; it’s just really not worth the hassle, stress and expectation I would put on myself.
When I heard about Sam; I sat and cried on the sofa as I think many of us did. Cried for her; for her family’s secondary loss; for ourselves; for knowing exactly why she felt she could no longer stay. I have to say I felt the same way too in the initial days and weeks after we lost Alexandra. This was particularly acute after her funeral when everyone else’s lives just carried on as they were always going to do. I lost count of how many times I ticked on a form that yes, I felt suicidal but no I couldn’t bring myself to do anything about it. I’ve written this before but I just didn’t want to wake up and I was surprised when I did. I just wanted the pain to be taken away by some freakish force of fate overnight. Now you might think “oh she’s being melodramatic; look at her she’s fine; she cracks jokes and has another baby, husband, a (crazy) dog and a job she’s happy in; she’s got over it”. The thing is that grief doesn’t work like that. You can be plodding along keeping yourself busy and then boom; a trigger and you can remember the blackness of the early days and they flood back. Please get help if you need it and try different techniques if the first doesn’t work for you.
There’s not much more I can add in my brief response to either situation but I just wanted to say to “Dear Abby” poo to you with knobs on (to reference the quite excellent Blackadder) and sending all the love in the world to Sam and Willow’s family.