To Go or Not Go, That is the Dilemma

To Go or Not Go, That is the Dilemma
For anyone who’s lost a child, it is nearly impossible to fathom that life moves forward. We beg that the world stop at that moment when we still had our precious child. It’s not plausible that daily routines and events can continue on without our son or daughter.

But the world does move forward; it does continue on and inevitably we are faced with moving with it. Our destroyed existence remains broken but others, whose daily lives are centered on their own reality, carry on. So as the bereaved and bewildered parent, we eventually will be faced with invitations to events both small and large and will have to decide which we can go to that we can somehow handle or simply allow ourselves to kindly be excused.

For example, 10 months after my 8 year old died I was invited to a baby shower for my cousin whom I love dearly. In my life before, I wouldn’t have even questioned whether to go or not go; I’d be glad to be there and celebrate her first child. But now I’m unsure if I can participate in the festivities of welcoming a new baby when my own child is gone.

Another example is a family cookout. Generally, it would be a straightforward yes, we’ll be there. Now it’s a major decision. I love being with my family and enjoy their company but I don’t want to be thinking about how much I want my daughter there and how great the pain is of missing her.

Our surviving daughter just completed kindergarten and the school held a recognition day to honor the kids’ achievements. The little ceremony is to take place at the same school on the same stage that our deceased daughter’s kindergarten class had celebrated on just few short years earlier. I desperately want to be there for my proud 6 year old but I dread reliving the day her sister did the same.

Do I or do I not go to these events? How do I know what I can handle? How do I know I won’t break down in tears when my cousin opens a gift containing a little pink hat or a stuffed animal? Do I risk being there for her and possibly putting a damper on her happiness? Do I disappoint my family by not going to the cookout because I can’t bear to pretend everything is ok? Would it be fair to let down my living child in her moment of triumph because I’m not able to look at the stage without picturing her sister sitting up there?

We have to remember we are in a mode of survival and that we need to make decisions that will be best for ourselves and our own family. Maybe try to be aware of what the surroundings will be so that you can have a good cry discreetly if you need to – is there a bathroom nearby, an empty room. Consider whether your absence would really be missed – is the event for a person close to you, who relies on you. Ultimately, whether we go or not go, we must give ourselves permission to be ok with it and to honor the emotions as they come. If we go and cry, it’s ok. If we go and enjoy it, it’s ok. If we don’t go at all, it’s ok.

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