Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Call Me if You Need Anything

by Joanna

After Asia's death, we notified everyone with one large mass email, as we just couldn't bear the thought of all those phone calls and the retelling of the details over and over again. Most people responded with a quick line or two via email. I'll freely admit that this seemed a little odd to me, as it was completely impersonal and I would have thought that condolences were extended via phone call, flowers or cards sent to the home, but perhaps since we sent out an email, they also thought an email response was sufficient. There were some who didn't even respond to the email and there were some whose only acknowledgement of the news was to "Like" a bereavement photo I posted on Facebook.

In our original email, we included a list of things to say/not say to a grieving parent, as I thought it might be helpful to our friends/family who were concerned about what to say to us. One of the points on the list was that horrid statement "Call me if you need anything". Our email asked that our friends please NOT use this statement - it would be highly unlikely that we would be reaching out to anyone in our deepest and darkest days, following the death of yet another child. We asked that if people wanted to help, to take the initiative and come up with something that might be helpful to us and simply do it, or give us the option of saying "Ok" or "No, thanks". I had hoped that maybe someone would offer to take Sophie to the park, drop off a meal, check on us, or something along those lines, as I was incapacitated post surgery and debilitated with grief.

Many of the reply emails, however, ended with this exact wording. It really left me wondering if people had read our email in its entirety. I couldn't understand why the burden was on us to make requests of people - I felt that I had just made a request regarding this statement and no one accommodated my request, so why would I make another request? I was fairly certain that any requests I made would fall on deaf ears, once again.

In the days after Asia's death, I couldn't think of food, or showering, or taking Sophie out of the house or anything for that matter. To be perfectly honest, I think Freddie and I lay on the couch crying most of the first 3 days (before he had to go back to work) or distracting ourselves by watching crappy TV. We ate frozen pizza for the first few days round the clock, and if it wasn't for Sophie's food schedule, we probably would not have eaten at all. I had really hoped that our closest and dearest friends/family would step up and take care of us in some manner.

A psychologist I see at the Pain Clinic told me that people are busy with their own lives and that sometimes it's like swimming against the current - you have to literally throw in a lifeline and make them come ashore to get them out of their current. I understand the analogy, but honestly, I was the one who needed a lifeline, and I was in no condition to be reaching out to anyone else.

~ ~ ~

Joanna is a stay-at-home mom who has just entered her 4th decade. She is lucky enough to be married to her best friend, Freddie, since 2007. Five years ago, she had to stop working outside the home at a job she really enjoyed due to the chronic pain that has been with her for over a decade. Joanna and Freddie are parents to five children, yet only one living child: 
- Sammy, whose miscarriage at 11 weeks has forever changed their lives, 
- Sophie, a rambunctious 2.5 year old who fills their lives with light and love,
- Asia, who was carried with love despite her diagnosis of Alobar Holoprosencephaly and Trisomy 13, and never took a breath outside the womb,
- Teeny, who was here one minute and gone the next, and
- Tiny, who joined Teeny the following month.

Joanna carries all of her children daily in her heart and relies heavily on her Catholic faith to make it through each day. Joanna struggles with missing her children, her chronic pain and continuing on the journey to provide Sophie a sibling. You can follow her journey on her blog, A Painted Life

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