Nora was my child. I created her. I formed her. I carried her. I protected her for those 9 months. I am her mother. So at times it's easy to fall into the trap of "this happened to me, not you" when it comes to relating my grief to other family members. Sometimes I could think, "I am the only one who is truly affected by this loss! I am the one who is suffering." Well....that is not the case.
I knew I would have to share Nora as soon as she came into this world. Once she was born she would no longer be just my baby and my baby only. And that is okay, because that is the point of bringing a child into this world. To create a person who will experience the immense joy and love of others. That is what we hope for our children and that is why we have baby showers and family members waiting at the hospital to meet this stranger who will be welcomed with open arms into the family circle and showered with unconditional love. Babies are born to be shared with the world and those who are waiting to love them.
I was reminded of this during our visit to my in-laws last weekend as I walked into their home. I haven't been there since Nora passed and as I entered the cozy North Dakota living room of my in-laws my eyes immediately were drawn to the mantel of the fireplace. There, front and center of the house was a picture of Nora's hands. Then off to the left were her hand and foot prints displayed nicely in a 8 x 10 frame. My mother in-law even had a pink rose from her funeral displayed next to another picture of Nora's beautiful photo. I was moved to see such a display of continued love for my deceased daughter. Nick and I were obviously not the only ones grieving a loss here. Her picture was even centrally displayed at my sister-in-laws house, which I was surprised by.
I realize that I would not have owned Nora in life so I don't own her in grief either. She is loved and missed by everyone who anxiously awaited their turn to have moments with Nora. To play their role that Nora would have created for them. If it was Grandpa again, or first time Grandma, or Awesome Aunt in waiting, or the older cousin who was excited to lay claim to that name.
So, I must share her in death as I would in life. I'm glad we did for the brief moments we had with her. After Nora was delivered still, Nick and I met and held her sleeping soul for a brief while before we invited our family into the delivery room. I, holding Nora's lifeless body in my arms with Nick by our side, introduced our family to Nora as each family member filed in and encircled the hospital bed where I lay with their bodies, but also with their love and their broken hearts. It was beautiful. I wish I could describe this moment to you in greater detail. Even though it was horribly sad at the same time, it was also amazingly beautiful.
There standing around Nora, Nick, and I, was my dad, first time grandpa. My mother, first time and forever heartbroken grandma. My sister and brother-in-law, grieving aunt an uncle not to be. My husband's favorite Aunt and her grown daughter with tears in their eyes. My father-in-law, lost for words, with his silent and strong heart shattered, and my mother-in-law with quiet tears streaming down her face. It was beautiful. It was heartbreaking. It was family.
This week we will be hearing from these grieving family members. We will hear what it is like to be a grieving grandma, a bereaved aunt, and some short but profound words from grieving grandpa's too. These are the Forgotten Grievers. Let us pay homage to their grief and love.