by Kathy Sutton, RN
We lost our son Michael 20 months ago. We have a beautiful, healthy, 5 1/2 yr. old son. I am very grateful for him because I probably would not be here today if it were not for him.
My problem is that no one remembers Michael. Thanksgiving came and went and no mention of Michael. I'm so afraid that the same thing will happen at Christmas too. All of our friends and especially our family were there for us everyday when Michael was here. And when he would have to go back into the hospital, they were all right there. Why is Michael so far from their memories now?
My heart breaks every time I mention his name and another person walks out of the room. Don't these people realize they are hurting me? And Michael's memory!! I need to talk about my son and I have no one to talk about him with. Everyone feel's so uncomfortable when Michael is mentioned. Why can't these people try to think about how it feels to be his mother and miss him every minute of every day?!
Can you offer me any advice on how to keep Michael's memory alive at the holiday's? How can I keep him part of our family's holidays? Thank you!
Dear Michael's Memory
I am very sorry about the loss of your precious son Michael. The holidays can be a very sad time when you are grieving, and you ask some really good questions about how to handle the holidays.
First, I would like to say something about your thoughts about your family and others seeming to have forgotten your son Michael. I wonder if they have truly forgotten him or if they are trying to spare your feelings? Sometimes when a loved one dies, people don't speak about them, or seem to want to discuss them, because they are afraid of "upsetting" us, hurting us, reopening old wounds, or sometimes they simply don't know WHAT to say. I don't know all your family dynamics, but I wonder if you said to them what you wrote to me in this letter. They might come to realize that its hurting you to NOT speak about him, and that you need to talk about him if they might realize that talking about your son is important to YOU.
About your questions on how to keep your son's memory alive during the holidays and a part of your family's celebration time - I have a few suggestions I have done over the past few years in honor of the memory of my son: If you are involved in a religious organization perhaps you could place flowers in his memory inside the church, and after they have been used, take them and place them at your son's grave or memorial. I do this every year and it's a part of our family's remembering. I see from your web page that you are involved in an organization for OI. Perhaps you could organize a holiday fundraiser if you don't have one already. I think that it is up to every individual to decide what will be honor their loved one and give them focus and solace during the difficult holiday season.
I wanted to also mention that the message boards at death-dying.com are an excellent source of support during the holidays and during the year. Also, if you write to email@example.com for a list of chat times, we invite you to participate in our chats as well. I hope that you find these suggestions helpful to you. Please let m know if I can assist you further. Again, my sincerest condolences to you and your family in dealing with the loss of your child.
Kathy Sutton is a former high-risk obstetrical RN. Kathy has a BA from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, and a BS in Nursing from Texas Women's University in Denton, Texas. In the course of her nursing career, she has helped several women deal with the loss of children both at the bedside, and online for Beyond Indigo. She and her husband have dealt with the loss of two children in their personal lives as well.