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bereavement support

Death is a weird thing. I get it, I tooooootally get it. Even when someone is old or has suffered a long time with an illness, knowing what to do or say to comfort the bereaved can be incredibly difficult. Finding ourselves suddenly thrust from "expectant parents" to "the bereaved," we've seen firsthand how people deal with this. And are happy to report that almost all of the time, people are simply wonderful. Every once in awhile (once in a great great great teeny tiny while that we won't even mention) they aren't so awesome. But mostly... awesome.

Dave and I are not super outgoing people. We aren't unfriendly, we just seem to be very selective about who we choose to spend time with socializing outside of each other. We like each other a lot and we have these crazy kids, so our 'alone time' is precious and limited. But we do have friends, through church, or through the community, or through homeschooling co-op. Losing Desmond has made us acutely aware of just how many friends we really do have, how many people love us and love our family and want to help us.

The main way people like to help is food. Which at first - I didn't want to eat, and David didn't want to eat. We were in the zero-appetite stage of grief. But our children 100% wanted to eat! So having friends stop by with meals and treats was wonderful. Then about a week after Desmond's funeral, things sort of petered out on that front. And that was okay, I was physically able to prepare food and everything. But then the anxiety hit me. I didn't want to leave my house. I had a few experiences where I encountered newborn baby boys or pregnant women, unexpectedly, and struggled to keep my composure until safely in my vehicle, where I cried like a freaking maniac. This happened once in the checkout line of the supermarket. The cashier was remarking to the woman ahead of me in line about how beautiful her little newborn baby boy was. And asked me, wasn't he beautiful? It was the hardest five minutes keeping it together to get my items paid for so that I could rush to my car and cry.

It happened another time at the gym. Wednesday nights, the kids have church activities and David had taken them, so I decided to finish getting my steps for the day on my fitbit by doing the treadmill (mosquitoes and humidity being horrid right now). I had barely walked four minutes on a treadmill that faced a window on the front parking lot, when I saw a group of three very pregnant women leaving together. I thought to myself, what in the world?... and then it hit me like a ton of bricks. Wednesday night was my aquanatal class. They were my former classmates, all with healthy little babies still living and growing in their bellies. I ran out. I ran to my car (got those steps, after all), and I cried and cried. Deep, loud crying too, not pretty little sobs. I also took a picture, because if I am going to document the happiness of life, why not the sadness too?

And so, a sort of agoraphobia has developed. Not full blown. I am not planning on getting a bunch of cats and only ordering groceries through Amazon. Not yet anyway. But I do stress out so much about having to go grocery shopping. And part one of feeding your family is... grocery shopping.

At this time, some women from our homeschool co-op contacted me and said they would like to put together a Meal Train for our family. At first I thought, oh I can feed my family.... but they really wanted to do it, and we thought it was so sweet of them, so we said sure of course you can do it. And so over the course of a couple of weeks, at least a dozen women brought us dinners. Quiche, casserole, spaghetti, enchiladas, roasted chickens... everything. Enormous sizes too, plenty to have for lunch the next day (and the next and next sometimes!). It was such an enormous blessing for me to not have to stress about leaving the house to buy the food for our family. It was also incredibly soul-satisfying to see these women, some of whom I barely know at all aside from saying hello at co-op, and to give and receive hugs and just to know that our family was being prayed for and loved.

(just a sampling of our meal train)

I wish I had taken more photos of the beautiful foods they brought, but somehow we just gobbled it up too fast. I did manage a picture of this though! One of Lucy's former teachers from co-op, Joyce, brought dinner and included a huge batch of this treat. I don't know what it's called, but it's Froot Loops coated in melted chocolate. The what, you say? That's right. And it is addictive and wonderful!

I am getting a little better about going out, but it's still a struggle sometimes. At the oddest times and places. But I am doing a little better each time I try. Having people relying on me to feed them is a good motivator.

Last night, David and I decided to try out The Women's Hospital bereaved parents' support group. It only meets once a month and last month it fell on the day of Desmond's burial so that was just too soon. It was tough for us to go back into the hospital. The last time we'd been there at all was when we left Desmond's body behind, and the last time we'd gone in and out the front doors was the day we learned he'd died (my OB's office is in the same building). So it was pretty tough to walk in those doors and see all those newborn portraits everywhere in the lobby. But that was the part I was prepared for... the part I was not possibly prepared for was that once we came into the room, there were two other mothers there who had lost babies. And both of these other mothers are at this moment, nine months pregnant with subsequent babies. Due within weeks. And then me. Empty wombed sad little me. I guess it never crossed my mind that once a person got pregnant again, especially so far along, that they'd continue coming to the support group. So that was tough. I'm not sure if we'll go back. On one hand, in a month they won't be pregnant anymore! Dear God what if they bring their newborn babies though? On the other hand, it was in some ways nice to talk specifically with one other couple who lost a baby at 22 weeks due to a cord accident, had a burial, etc - a situation more like ours, although both women were having their first child so not the same really. The other woman had 2 first trimester miscarriages before this one, so again, not really the same. I don't begrudge women their right to mourn any pregnancy loss, but I just do not feel an early loss before you have felt the baby move or known its gender is comparable to a loss later on when you have those things (just like my type of loss is not comparable to a person who loses a living child). 

So the meals are over and I'm back out in the world shopping, even though pregnant women exist out there. Out exercising in spite of the aquanatal gals. Out support-grouping even though I can't expect safety from pregnant women in that ONE place! 


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