Real Life “This Is Us”

Chris and I were discussing whether or not we wanted to watch the new show This Is Us last night. I have been on the fence about it because, while I have heard good things about the first episode, I found myself wondering if they would address their loss at all in the rest of the series.  As any stillbirth or infant loss family knows, there is so much more to the “journey” than what happens in that moment.

We titled our blog “Chasing our Butterfly” with the subtitle, “breaking the silence of stillbirth.”  I have made it my mission to be open and honest about the path that we walk. Prior to the day we lost Quinn, the thought of her dying prior to birth never crossed my mind. Even as we frantically drove to the hospital that January night, I thought to myself, she is in distress.  I am probably going to have an emergency C-section.  I really should’ve brought a bag with me. Nothing in life prepares you to have to ask if your baby has a heartbeat and then hearing the response, “I’m so sorry there isn’t one.”

In the months since Quinn has been gone, many people around me have shared their own loss stories that you would have never known about.  While some choose to be private about it, others suffer silently, because as a society, we are terrible at handling grieving people.  We throw out clichés or useless platitudes.  We tell people they are in a better place or that they were saved from some sort of suffering.  I recognize that it is often difficult for outsiders to place themselves in the shoes of someone who has lost a child, but think for one minute how much comfort you would find in those words if it happened to you.  And then you get to that time; the time when you start to get the feeling that people are tired of hearing about it. The time when you sense the outside world feels as though you should be over it already.  As though there is a finite time frame for you to process grief.

Which brings me to the concept of grief. Grief is complex, and not as easily defined by the 7 stages as some would like. Grief is not linear. There will always be triggers, and you never know when a trigger may appear. You never know what may trigger you. The other night, I lay in bed watching TV and a commercial came on with a little boy singing twinkle, twinkle little star. The words “how I wonder what you are” got me.  I wonder what Quinn would be all the time.  Would she have been a little sass pot like I was as a kid? (Who I am kidding, Chris was a pistol as a child too so we all know she would’ve been).  My heart hurt because I wished we could have more time with her, more pictures with her, more everything.

I am notoriously blunt.  I have been all my life. Many times I know my bluntness makes people uncomfortable, but here’s the reality of the situation, you’re uncomfortable for 5 minutes, I don’t have that luxury.  My hope is that in your 5 minutes of discomfort that you can peer into someone else’s life and gain some empathy.  You never know what someone is going through unless it is talked about. As Chris has said, this is us, take it or leave it.  We are different people now.  That’s not to say that 8 months later we haven’t regained some semblance of our previous selves.  We laugh and enjoy ourselves without feeling guilty like we did in the beginning.  We watch our shows and treat our dog, Mocha, like a diva.  We aren’t outwardly sad all the time, but that doesn’t change what has happened. This is what real life is. Our therapist has told us to be open, to communicate, and to protect our hearts. We do that the best we can.

So for the moment, I am content not watching This Is Us, as I have a front row ticket to our own show. But it is my hope that maybe the show will shed some light on stillbirth and help mainstream America better understand life after loss.

3 thoughts on “Real Life “This Is Us”

  1. Grief is not linear. Yup! I haven’t cried yet today, and I know people at work must think “wow she’s doing great!” – but I know as soon as I go to bed hugging her blanket the tears will come.

    You are doing a great job of being open and honest. That is the best thing we can do for our girls and others walking this path. Xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

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