Over the past 2 months, we have been asked how we are doing and if there is any way we need help. I have yet to come up with a good answer for these questions. Most of the time I don't have much of anything to say. Sometimes, I don't even respond to the text. But I notice the message, and I so appreciate that, in that moment, my son is being remembered.
Here's the thing, there are no "right" words. There is nothing that anyone has ever said that helps take away the pain, guilt, anguish, bitterness, etc of what I am feeling. There was nothing with Reagan either. It's part of why I still feel uncomfortable myself when I have a conversation with a new loss Mommy, when Reagan's Garden brought me woman after woman who had experienced the same pain. Even then, I had no words.
One of the biggest questions I got after starting Reagan's Garden was from friends who were trying to comfort their friends who had just lost a child. Wanting to know what they should do and what they should say. The one thing that stuck out to me with Reagan was how no one wanted to talk about HER. Maybe they would ask how I was doing, but after a few weeks even that became few and far between. I can really only think of 2 friends who EVER asked about my healing and only 1 who made the jump to ask about Reagan. But I remember sitting there, feeling so grateful someone loved me enough to want to know my daughter too. (thank you dear friend!) To want to know about the labor, about what it was like to see my firstborn, about how I felt when I had to give her back, what it was like to pick up her ashes. So, that is what I always shared with those who would contact me - to make sure to mention the child by name, to bring him or her up in the conversation on how you are doing.
The other point I always stressed was that this is a long-term journey. It was over 4 years before I could hear of a woman pregnant with a little girl and not feel myself being pulled into a world of bitterness and pain. Now, bear in mind I had a second daughter 3 years later. So, Hannah was turning 1 and I still felt like I somehow had a corner on the market of all baby girls. Ridiculous, I know. Along that 4 year journey we also experienced life in the NICU and isolation and the birth of 3 children and a move, so maybe that played a role in the delayed healing. Or maybe that healing time is completely normal? Who knows. Regardless, we felt completely forgotten after about 6 weeks. No more cards, no more flowers, no more "I'm thinking about you texts". It was like all healing was supposed to be finished. And I wasn't ready. I was still reeling, still trying to figure out how to get out of bed and get to work. And then I'd come home from work and either go to bed and crumble or run to God with Hope. One of the 2 extremes, nothing in the middle. With Lucas, I am so thankful for friends who have continued to check in on us, who are loving us the way they know how.
For anyone who has friends who have experienced infant loss, please remember our babies. Please use their names. When you see something that makes you think of them, let us know. When your heart is heavy for us, let us know. When the texts stop coming, when the cards stop coming, we feel forgotten. I will live every day of the rest of my life missing my 2 children. I gave birth to them, held them, and said goodbye, all in a matter of hours. That is all the time I will ever get here. I will never forget, and I see reminders of both children everywhere I turn. But it is so comforting to know that someone else remember them too. That I am not as alone as I feel, but that Lucas and Reagan made some impact on a life outside our home. People may say the wrong thing, may even say something that ends up being unintentionally hurtful. But, at least they are trying, and at least they remember. The silence hurts most of all.