The Ripple Effects of Loss

On the outside I look like a normal functioning person, but the ripple effects of my son’s death still startle me. Just this week, the day home woman who cares for my two living kids asked me if I was okay if she ran an errand taking her daughter and my two-year-old son Eden with her (the older kids were still in school). Her request shouldn’t have bothered me since she takes the two toddlers to music class every week – but for some reason I was petrified.

Maybe it was my mood that day, but all I could picture was a car crash and my son being badly injured… Or worse. Since Zachary, I tend to imagine the unthinkable in terms of my living children’s safety.

Ripple coffee copyright Alexis Marie Chute Wanted Chosen Planned blog baby loss

I fixated on that car trip all morning and texted the woman asking her to let me know once they were all back at the house. In the meantime, I did everything to get my mind off that car ride. I went to the gym, ran the track and listened to music. I texted a few friends. Thought about what I needed to accomplish at work…

When the woman let me know they had gotten home safe and sound, I was overcome with relief.

Ripple effects.

Will I always feel this fear?

Another ripple effect of Zachary’s death is seen in the topics of our family conversations. We often talk about Zachary – and Hannah in particular is very aware that her brother died. Eden does not yet seem to comprehend it but still mirrors Hannah’s visible pout and downcast face when she expresses that she misses Zach.

One day when I picked up my children from the day home I was informed that as the kids played make-believe, Hannah pretended she had a baby that died. Again, the ripple effects of our loss startled me. The day home woman told me she had never encountered that situation and had encouraged the kids to pretend that their babies were healthy. After letting all the information settle in me for a moment, I told the woman that I am okay with Hannah pretending in the scenario she had invented.

Obviously Hannah is working through her brother’s death in her own way, on a five-year-old level. I want her to feel she can express herself and her feelings. What may seem strange to those on the outside: I am actually excited that my girl is so open and exploratory with the subject of death. I don’t say that to be morbid, but I believe people need to talk more about death and do so in a normal way.

I was so taken back by death in my own life because I did not grow up with a healthy, ongoing openness and awareness of it. That is not to say that my parents’ did not do a good job, but my upbringing reflects our societal response to difficult subjects. Avoidance. Discomfort. Fear.

I didn’t know what death meant to me or how I felt about it – so when Zach died, it shook my understanding of the world. I don’t want that for my kids.

I feel like I am still learning how to grieve every day. I am still learning how to talk to my children about what happened to our family. I don’t have all the answers, but I believe that I am heading in the right direction however blindly I am stumbling along the way.

1 Comment

  1. Candace
    Feb 19, 2015

    My daughter, Paige randomly tells people she had a sister but she died. While I’m starting to get used to it, it still startles me and the person she tells as well. She is also always drawing pictures or writing songs on the piano to rememver Emree. Once in awhile she’s start crying/pouting out of the blue and says she misses her. It’s hard not to cry with her but my first instinct is to push my feelings down and consol her.

    Seeing women with baby bumps and babies really gets to me sometimes but it’s random, I never know when it will affect me. Just need to take it one moment at a time.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *