Acknowledgement feels good

I reach office earlier than my other friends. So, usually I’m alone for breakfast. On one such day, an acquaintance came and joined me at breakfast. I was happy to have a company. We spoke about work, her vacation, our hobbies, and a lot of other things.

We had a good chat at the breakfast table. I enjoyed it.

2 days later, she pings me this:

zahraa

That was a sweet gesture. I felt good. I smiled reading that. I had assumed that she knows what had happened to me/Ayden because she knew I was pregnant, but there was no question about the baby when we met. But I didn’t think much into it because she’s not a close friend, and didn’t expect much beyond a hello, how are you.

Another instance told by a friend who’s been through 2 miscarriages. A common friend of ours called her casually and in the course of conversation, she asked her – when are you planning for pregnancy again? (our friendship/relationship with her accepts and validates such questions, so that’s fine). Before my friend could respond, she reacted – “I mean, I didn’t mean to say ‘again.’ I’m so sorry…” She was struggling to complete her apology. My friend told her – calm down, it’s ok. It is ‘again’ for me. After sometime she asked her the same question about me as well, and suddenly apologized for saying ‘again’ again. My friend told her – Both of us won’t feel bad about it. At least you are acknowledging it. So, that’s ok.

I met another friend 5 months after Ayden’s passing. This was at a wedding. We spoke very casually about regular things. The next day, at the cocktail party, after a couple of drinks she came up to me, hugged me and said “You are so strong. I know you are going through hell. I have the courage to tell you this only because I’m drunk. Take care.”

If feels good when one makes the effort to acknowledge your unexpected changes in life, without making it feel dramatic. It feels good when you see empathy in words.

Plz don’t mistake it for attention-seeking. It’s definitely not that. If you know anyone going through child-loss, know that they might appreciate you acknowledging their child and loss than ignoring.

 

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Ask us about our children

My first week of joining back to work, post-Ayden.

One of my ex-teammates whom I had worked with very closely came up to me and said he’d like to catch up. We grabbed our evening chai and had a face-to-face time in our office cafe.

I’m just back to work. Most people who know me, know the context.

He said – good to see you back. How was your vacation?

I told him, it was more of a change-of-scene than a vacation. It was more of a run-away-from-things, and that it was badly needed.

He spoke a lot about the vacation, how well they make chai in office and a lot of other things. In between, he plugged in my health and checked if the message therapy that I was going through helped me with my backpain. But not even once he asked me about my son or how we are holding up.

I felt bad.

This wasn’t a person whom I was talking to after a long time. This wasn’t a person who didn’t know what to say in such an situation. This was a person who had come to visit me at the hospital; who was in touch with me, checked on me, checked on Ayden, passed on his condolences. This was a person whom I had sent some very strong emotional messages when I saw things falling apart.

I did bring up the topic in between, assuming he might be struggling to start the conversation on Ayden. I mentioned his name. I said I had a tough time. He smiled and moved on to the next topic.

All I have in my mind is my son. In that first one week of joining back, my so-called-vacation or the new role that you’ve applied for are not my priority.

There’s a reason why I went on that vacation. There’s a reason why I have that chronic backpain. There’s a reason why I am back to work sooner than planned.

Another friend whom I usually bump into at work at least 2-3 times a week, one day emailed me – everytime I see you around, I want to ask you, but didn’t know how. If you don’t mind, I’d love to know more about your baby. He added a couple of disclaimers to ensure that I spoke about it only if I’m 100% comfortable. Later that week, we caught up over coffee, I told him what happened. He asked if I got a chance to click any pictures of Ayden. I showed him some of them. He asked who picked his name, if he was named after anyone.

That felt good. He wasn’t nosy. He genuinely wanted to know. I know the difference.

That night, I wrote about that conversation in my journal.

The point is, I won’t burst into tears at the mention of my son. In fact, that makes me feel good. It makes me feel that there are people who think about him. It pulls me apart to think that people have forgotten him and his existence.

I’d be more than happy to share his story, show his pictures, tell you about CHDs and TGA…

If there’s one thing constant in my mind irrespective of where I am & what I do, it’s him. When you ask me about him, you are not reminding me of him. I haven’t forgotten him to get reminded. His life & death defines my life now.

And, this is not just about me. I’m sure I represent millions of other bereaved parents across the globe who want to be asked about their lost children.

Remembering our children is the best gift you can give a bereaved parent!