Grieving {Guest Post}

I met Bobbi Junior at a social network marketing class I taught at Harcourt house for artists and writers in the fall of 2013. When I shared Wanted Chosen Planned as an example of my blogging efforts, Bobbi realized that she and I had something in common; early infant loss. I was intrigued to hear Bobbi’s perspective on the death of her child since she has many more years experience on this journey than me.


Thank you, Bobbi, for this blog post. I’m sure it will encourage many.   


Bobbi Junior Photo 1 Guest blog post

Photo by Bobbi Junior

Her gravestone reads, “Wendy Lorraine Junior. Budded on earth to bloom in heaven. April 23 – 25, 1985”

My husband, Rick, picked the phrase from a page of quotes provided by the funeral home. I had tried to choose, but none felt worthy of our baby girl. She was being buried in a few days, the result of a congenital defect we didn’t discover until her birth.

Decades later, that visit to the mortuary is as vivid as if it were yesterday. Other memories are vivid as well. With the distance time creates, there is a clarity I couldn’t experience then.

People thought we were amazing, my husband and I. Conversations about us often sounded like this. “They were there for each other the whole time. Tragic as it was, it brought them closer together.”

Often, a story about some other couple would come up, but this time they’d say, “He just couldn’t handle it. It drove them apart.” (Usually the blame landed on the dad. I mean, how can you judge a mother who’s just lost her baby? Anything is forgivable for her.)

But were we really so virtuous? I wonder.

Rick and I are quiet as a rule. Both of us. Quiet and private.

In the days, weeks, and months that followed our baby’s death, both of us had no choice but to process what had happened. And both of us had no choice but to handle our sorrow according to our personalities, our individual history, our experiences before, during and after Wendy’s death.

And we survived, marriage intact.

Were we doing it right where others did it wrong?

Or was our grief simply compatible?

Rick would come home from work to find me standing at the sink, washing dishes as tears streamed down my face. I’d acknowledge him. Nod. “It’s one of those days,” I’d explain. Rick would nod and carry on to the bedroom to change from his coveralls.

I was okay with that. But what if I’d needed him to hold me? To drop everything and be there for me? Would I have become bitter at his lack of compassion?

What if I’d needed to talk and talk and talk? Would I have condemned him for not providing that listening ear?

What if he’d needed to drown himself in work? Would I have been justified in accusing him of abandoning me in my need?

Bobbi Junior

Bobbi Junior

What if…  what if…  But for us, there was no ‘what if’. We each needed space with proximity. I didn’t need to talk about my grief. He didn’t need to talk about his. We did need to know we were walking the same path. We did need to honor each other’s sorrow. And Rick, thank God, was able to stay in close proximity to my pain, even when he felt he had nothing to offer. For me, it was enough.

For another Mom, would it have been?

Perhaps not. Perhaps for some couples, the grieving of the mother is not compatible with the grieving of the father.  Is that when it appears that the death of a child has ‘driven them apart’?

My opinion is experiential at best. But I believe that when friends and family see what might appear to be an incompatibility in the grieving of a momma and a poppa, perhaps they can step in and try to fill the gap.

Be the listening ear for the one who needs to talk.

Be the quiet companion on the golf course, or at the gym for the one who needs distraction.

Be the arms to hold.

Be the beer drinking buddy who carries the car keys and brings everyone home a little buzzed, but not inebriated.

Be the one, when the spouse cannot.

Maybe that would help.



Read more from Bobbi Junior on her personal blog.



  1. Shari
    Jan 17, 2014

    Wow. A great perspective. I think this is important to think about with any grieving. Not every spouse can “be there” exactly as you need them to be. To find someone to fill the gaps…
    I only hope I can find that (if I need it) and also be the one to help fill the gaps from time to time!

    • Alexis Marie
      Jan 17, 2014

      Thanks for your comment Shari!
      I think you are right, not one person can meet every need in us – even if we wish they could.
      I had many people step up to support me and others I thought would be there that weren’t. Part of the conundrum is this: the grieving person needs to ask for help but at the same time they often don’t know what they need, so say nothing. It takes initiative all round to help someone suffering to get help and feel supported.
      Thanks for reading and hugs to you.
      P.s. I’ll be there for you, my friend.

      • Shari
        Jan 17, 2014

        They don’t know what they need, so stay silent. How true…
        I know you would be Alexis. 🙂

        • Alexis Marie
          Jan 17, 2014

          It takes courage to say what you need. People are scared of being judged. I remember it was so humbling (and nerve wracking) asking friends for meals when Aaron and I were in the hospital leading up to Zach’s death. I worried I would be perceived a certain way… But it showed me how much some people cared. In our culture everyone wants to looks like they have it all together. Don’t show weakness. In reality, vulnerability is a more authentic and satisfying way to live. That’s my goal, my beautiful lofty goal.

  2. georgia
    Jan 17, 2014

    i find this so timely on two levels… first, in light of the last post you put on your blog… the robert frost poem and the differences in their grieving process. and second, in light of what i’ve been writing in my head the past few hours… something i wanted to post on my blog, and maybe even on facebook if i choose to go back on it, about how we are grieving and what we need, both as a couple and as individuals. so much of this post resonates with me. and it is so good for others to read, i think. i honestly think people on the outside looking in really don’t know how to be there. i have felt that maybe others think the same of us… that we are strong and handling it well. but they don’t see the rough days when we are behind closed doors. these are such delicate waters to navigate… for all… not just those grieving, but those looking on. great post. so glad you shared her perspective.

    • Bobbi
      Jan 17, 2014

      Dear Georgia,
      I’m glad sharing our journey speaks to you on yours. As you point out, those who love the grieving often don’t know how to help, and those who are grieving don’t know either. Writing about your experience is a good thing to do.

      • Alexis Marie
        Jan 17, 2014

        I agree, writing about everything can bring much clarity. Write for yourself first .

    • Alexis Marie
      Jan 17, 2014

      Thanks for being so open about your feelings, Georgia. Relationships are hard enough without the death of a child to derail them. This is a somewhat taboo subject likely because marriage is so private… I could be wrong. I think we are not equipped in our culture to find healthy solutions to many things, death and marital problems being only two of many.

  3. Janet
    Jan 18, 2014

    I love the insight that your grieving was compatible. Comparability is so much more crucial in this process than people might think. When our grieving is not compatible with others they may wonder what is wrong with us, instead of just letting us be us, and grieve how we need to. Having survived a cellular loss myself, barely, I also thought that even whenever the loss is deep the words are often simply not there… The pain is literally too deep for words. You and Rick are so blessed to have been gifted with each other for the journey down here.

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