As much as I thought that May would be a difficult month for us, I feel like I have been reflecting a lot lately about where we were with everything last June. My memories of May 2010 are so muddled by the pain of our grief and it seems like June is the first real length of time that comes into focus when I think back. For those of you who are reading this post, who may be new to your grief, one day I think this will make some sense to you. You are probably wondering when or if you will ever start to get clarity again. It comes at a slow pace. I’ve read a lot of articles where people describe this time as settling into a new “normal” but I dislike that description. It shouldn’t be normal for a parent to know what it is like to have a child die. I think of it more as, starting on the path of being a parent to a child who has gone before you. Because your parenting doesn’t end with the death of your child. You are the keeper of their memory and what you do with that, is up to you.

For us, when June came last year we were in the midst of finding out what had happened to our sons body after we thought we had donated him to be cremated. I had called the hospital on more than one occasion to see if he had been sent to the university but whenever I called the staff person would say they still had not gotten Jack’s body. This went on for the remainder of the month of May, into the month of June. When mid June came, and we went to our first SHARE support group meeting, we told everyone our story and what was going on with our sons body. We also told them that the hospital informed us that we could not have our sons remains because there simply wouldn’t be anything left of him. This as it turns out, wasn’t true and our friends at the support group told us that it wasn’t right. It was then that we knew we needed to get our son back. I had been struggling with our original decision as it was, having nightmares where I just stood at the top of a building, screaming Jack’s name, so I was very relieved to know we could actually have Jack at home with us. My husband set about the task of figuring out what had happened to Jack, only to discover that the doctors never signed our babies death certificate. So he had indeed been sent for cremation, but he was sent back to the hospital due to insufficient paperwork. Had we not been inquiring about his whereabouts, I shudder to think of what would have happened to him. The week after Father’s Day we finally brought our baby boys remains home. I went to the funeral home, where the most compassionate people in the world took care of me, and picked his little box up. He has been with us ever since.

My second real remembrance of June was going back to work for the first time after our loss. It happened to be the same week we were figuring out what had happened to Jack, so as you can imagine, it was rough. I remember distinctly sitting at my computer screen, trying to compose a simple email and being completely at a loss of any words. I struggled to do a report that usually takes me minutes. When I answered the phone, the people who knew me and what had happened would studder with shock when they realized it was me answering. I wrote a list of “10 things NOT to say to me” and posted it on my cubicle wall and I emailed it to my co-workers. I basically, just tried to survive. I tried to come to terms with the fact that, while my world had stopped and my heart was broken, everyone elses world kept going and their hearts kept beating. I felt like nothing was important to me anymore and nothing really mattered. Things that would have originally angered me or would have caused me joy, didn’t faze me. All I wanted to do was go home where I could just be me. Where I could be the grief and sadness that I carried within myself all day long.

I guess I am writing this out today because now that’s its been a year since everything happened, I feel like I am in a place of reflection. Where I can really see how far we’ve come as a family. And I hope that by sharing this period of my life and some of my feelings that maybe someone can relate to the feelings and realize that people do survive through it. While it’s not easy, I am here as proof to say that you can make it through the first year of grief.