Grief: A Sneaky Little Bugger

Before I begin, let me take a moment to note that I have experienced loss in many ways - as a daughter, granddaughter, niece and friend, etc, but I have NEVER experienced loss as a mother and I can't speak to how these types of loss compare to that of a mother losing her child. Now I can continue with my story. Shortly after my daughter, Miss E's, first birthday, I was enjoying a child-free shower. My husband, J-man, was home which meant I could really relax and enjoy my shower time. Translation: I could think. That was probably my mistake. I was trying to put together something in my head I could use to post about Miss E’s first year. As I was thinking, I remembered that at this time last year while we were excited to celebrate Miss E’s first month in this world, friends of mine found out they weren’t going to be so lucky. And that is when it happened; I started crying, and then sobbing. I shed tears for that sweet angel baby who never opened her eyes. I sobbed for that mother who didn’t get to experience all those firsts. I cried for that father who would not get to revisit the toddler years.

I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to pull myself together when J-man and Miss E walked into our room. Luckily, I was able to stop. I wasn’t sure how I would explain that I was grieving over someone else’s child. It wouldn’t come as a surprise to him though. Last year, as this friend shared her story via a blog, I would read it and my husband would always know by the tears rolling down my cheeks. He once asked why I read if it upset me so much. I explained to him that this poor friend was living my greatest pregnancy nightmare. In my own way I felt that by reading her posts, I was supporting her across so many miles. Even now as I think about it my eyes fill with tears for their loss. I can’t begin to imagine what that must be like.

About 22 years, ago my mother had a miscarriage. I’ll admit I don’t always think about it. I was about 10 maybe 11 when it happened. We didn’t know what she was having, but I always say it was a little girl. You see, when my mother was pregnant, so was Elly Patterson, the mom from Lynn Johnston’s comic For Better Or For Worse. (Read on, this thought isn’t as random as it sounds.) I had always liked that comic strip. I liked the artwork.  And the children, Michael and Elizabeth, were about my older sister’s age and mine. After our loss, April was born to the Pattersons. As weird as it sounds, after that I think I was more invested in the comic strip. Sometimes I would read April’s exploits and think that my "sister" would have been about the same age, doing similar things. I guess it was part of my healing process. To this day, whenever I read For Better Or For Worse, especially if April is “starring” in it, I think of her, my baby sister who wasn’t.

Why the story about April Patterson, my mother and her miscarriage?

I was trying to figure out why I feel like I am grieving my friend's loss so strongly. Then it hit me; I feel like my daughter is my friend's "April".  Seeing Miss E grow, change and experience the things kids do, it reminds me of how I've always felt that connection to the fictional child the same age as my sister.  Grief is a tricky thing and understanding the connection makes me feel less silly about mourning so personally for my friend.