Monthly Archives: February 2012

We are not sick; we are sad.

A peer blog sparked the never-ending question of, “How long is long enough to grieve?” We chuckle when we hear it because we ask ourselves, “Are we on a step system or something? Should we cover our faces with a mask, like a child, and hide from the world?” It brought me back to the days of struggling with returning to work following the death of B. I specifically recall trying to get additional time home, in order to help my eldest child adjust to his first days back at school. I used some days owed to me from work.  However, I was then told that any additional time off would have to be prepared through paperwork, specifically the Family Medical and Leave Act. Well, of course, I was shocked to find, from FMLA, that I couldn’t take time off for the death of my child. Really? Really.

So, what does one do? I was told to see a doctor. The doctor then had to “label” me in order to agree with the FMLA terms. Thus, I put my family first, rather than pride. I marched into the doctor’s office and said, “My child died. I don’t know why. Now, work says you need to see me in order for me to stay home. Oh yeah, and you need to sign this paperwork.” I was embarrassed; I didn’t want any more people to know B’s death than necessary at the time. So here I am, telling the doctor that delivered B, that he died. I didn’t have answers. She said in order to get approved for FMLA, I had to claim I was “clinically depressed.” Really? Really. She said, “Here is some medication. Are you extremely depressed?” I took a step back. Was I? No. Did this label bother me? Yes.

It angered me. It embarrassed me. Why? I was not depressed. I was SAD. My child died; I was SAD. Plain and simple. I replied to the doctor, “Wouldn’t you feel sad? Is this something new in the world of medicine? I simply want time to be with my eldest son. I want time to be alone with “me.” What makes me “clinically” depressed?” She didn’t respond. Later that day, I faxed in my paperwork that read, “Cannot function with daily work habits. Must receive further treatment. Suffering from clinical depression…lost her child.” Done.

Granted, I understand some people are clinically depressed. People do need medication and/ or therapy.  Many of us have been there. Others do well without anything and God bless. Everyone is different. What bothers me most is that my child died, and the government felt it was not important enough to let me stay home. That I needed a “label” because of what had happened. Yet, if we give birth or adopt, we can stay home. Why not when we bury a child?

There are petitions now in place in which people are trying to make such changes to the FMLA. Thank goodness. I do not think we are sick. We do not need a label for losing a child. No one can tell anyone how long is long enough. What you should, or shouldn’t feel. What you need, or don’t need. Each story is different; each loss is a loss that is unique to the individual. What the government and some others around us may lack is compassion and empathy. Please do not tell us how to feel, act, speak, or move. Let us simply be and give us respect.

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Remember me and smile.

“Mom, remember when B used to take my cars.”

“Yes, I do. B loved all of your toys and wanted to make them his own! He would grab a car and just run from you!”

“Yeah, that was funny. I miss B.”

Time gets ahead of us so fast. We used to think time stood still, like we were trapped in a glass box with everyone staring in. Now, time has simply…passed. With a blink of an eye, months, almost years, have gone by us. Our oldest, T, is becoming a young boy, no longer a tiny toddler. He used to love kisses and hugs; he would much rather have his game system or Lego’s at this point!

And B, well, B would have been huge, just huge! He was born a big baby and always measured off the charts. It was really amusing because we would say to him, “Who is SO big?” He would chuckle. His chubby cheeks and thick thighs made him a beast, compared to his tall, skinny brother! T is our sensitive soul, while B would have been the rough and tumble tough guy.

We now see other kids his age and just imagine he is there with them, playing, laughing, skipping. We wonder what he would be eating, or watching on television, or what is favorite story would be. We wonder because it is all we can do. However, we know he is playing among others in heaven. We know he is among other children and they are dancing and singing. We know he is among our family and friends; we know he is safe. It is just difficult because we miss his touch, his warmth. The way his brother would laugh when he did steal his cars. The way he slept on Daddy’s chest on the couch, while T and I played puzzles.

We have so many memories, and we are thankful. Yet, we always just struggle with the “why” aspect. Whether we lose someone so young or someone so old, I think that question comes and goes; it has been awhile for us. Now that it is back, we recall that we shouldn’t question the “why” or live in grief that holds the shoulders down so tight that you want to hide from the world. We accept that it happened, that such tragedy happens to others we know as well. We choose to live life the way B would be proud, and that is to keep each other happy and healthy. When we think of B, we think of the memories we created, even if time was too short. We know he sends us messages from heaven, like “Remember me and smile.” When life gets ahead of us, we all need to stop and smile once in a while.