Thursday, May 21, 2009

Memorial Tribute at Primary Children's

Primary Children's held a memorial tribute for all their patients who have passed away this past year. I was happy to see a couple familiar faces there like Jessica from IHH and Lilly the Music Therapist. They presented some nice musical numbers, poems and other thoughts. There was also a video with a picture of each child, their name, and a brief sentence about them. It was nice to have a moment to just let myself cry; something that I don't do very much anymore. When it was over, a bagpiper excorted the families out to the patio. I hate bagpipes. Anyway, they gave us seeds for forget-me-nots, a free cd, and of course, tissues. Out on the patio there were ribbons for us to write our child's name on and a message to them. Then we tied them to the memory wall. It was a nice tribute, and I'm so grateful to the hospital for being so thoughtful. I think it was helpful for Aubrey too. Aubrey really wanted to go to the playroom, and still remembered exactly how to get there; she was so disapointed when I told her we were going to the park instead! Sad!

More on the "unavoidable question"

I've decided that it is perfectly socially acceptable to give condolences when you've learned of someone passing away. So, I should not be surprised or uncomfortable when someone does that. Really, that is the only hard part is figuring out what to say when someone says, "i'm so sorry for your loss."
I've decided that something possitive in response is nice. For example, "Thank you. I actually loved being Charlie's mother, and we were so happy to have the time that we had with him." I could make this shorter or longer or slightly different, depending on who I'm talking to, but I think that's the idea I'm gonna go with for now.

How are the Hossfields doing?

We are all doing just great! We are expecting a healthy baby boy around August 25th. We've already named him Samuel David. As for updates on our family, I am going to be more diligent at posting on our family blog. You can get to it from this blog by clicking on "family blog". I would like to use this blog to continue to explore my thoughts and feelings on our experience having Charlie and also since his passing. Thanks for keeping in touch!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Comparing Trials

I don't know if this is a cultural thing or what, but have you notice how we compare trials with each other? Things are said like, "Well, I can't complain, because my situation is not as bad as so-and-so's." Why do we do this to ourselves? This was actually a big and very interesting discovery from our journey with Charlie.
One day in the hospital we were getting our regular visit from the social worker to see how we were doing. It ocurred to me that the she just visited the person in the room next to us that had it much worse than I did, and was about to visit the person on the other side of me that did not have it as bad as me at all.
I asked her, "How do you do your job and keep a straight face withe everyone you visit? The people that have no problems probably complain the most, and you have to act like that's totally understandable. How can you do that when you have seen the worst of the worst in this hospital?"
She said to me, "I have to just tell myself that this is the worst situation that this person has experienced in their life so far. That is all they have to compare their situation to, and that's all I can expect from them."
This conversation taught me so much. I knew people that had it worse than far! Sometimes I felt like that meant that I wasn't allowed to grieve, feel sad, be frustrated, etc. BUT this was a hard situation for me; was I supposed to not be human?
I decided to let myself be as human as I wanted, and that I also needed to let others be as human as they wanted to.
There are people that are going through things that are not as hard as what I went through, but who am I to tell them that they have to suck it up!? Shouldn't I be the one that could empathize the most?
So bottome line, don't compare trials. Take what you can from each trial, and appreciate the differences. Learn what you can from your own trials and from others' experiences, because that is what they are for. Learning.

The unavoidable question, "How many kids to you have?"

I thought I might spend some time reflecting on things we have experienced and learned this past year since Charlie passed. Alot happens within a family after the passing of a loved one, and I thought that sharing my thoughts with others could help all of us figure some things out. You're thoughts and comments are much appreciated throughout this process.
I guess I'll start with the unavoidable question, "How many kids do you have?"
This question comes up frequently and in many different circumstances. I've noticed that there's not necessarily one right answer; that I have to feel out the situation and make a quick guess as to how much information is necessary. Of course, as Charlie's mother, I feel like I could never leave him out. Really, I don't mind telling a complete stranger all about Charlie, and in fact, I enjoy talking about him and I appreciate questions. The only thing I don't really like is the sympathy that goes along with it. I would prefer to talk about Charlie in a "as-a-matter-of-fact" manner; as if what I had to say was interesting but not shocking.
If you're lost in what I'm talking about, I "normal" conversation about my children sounds like this:
"So, how many kids do you have?" or "Is Aubrey you're only child?"
"I have Aubrey, and my son, Charlie passed away last year."
Or "I have two" which always leads to:
"So where's the other one?"
Once basically explained, I get:
"Oh! I am so sorry!" and then they don't know if they should ask questions, or if it is too painful for me to talk about.
I don't know what to say, because I don't know what they're sorry about; they didn't do anything wrong. Do I say "thank you"? For their sympanthy? Do they want to know more about him, or will they be uncomfortable hearing more? I try to ease the awkwardness by saying something like, "He had a heart defect, and we were happy to get the time we had with him." The conversation will then either die here or more questions are asked; either way is fine with me.
I basically just hate that I could be having a light, cheerful conversation with someone, and then suddenly, it turns to doom and gloom or total seriousness. I don't want Charlie to be a depressing topic. I loved being his mother, and like any mother, I love talking about my children. Hopefully over the years, I'll get better at answering this question.