Every year, as I get closer to Gianna’s birthday, memories come to mind that I normally wouldn’t think about because they are too painful. I begin thinking about the last months of pregnancy with her, how excited I was to have her, and then about my horrible labor and her unnecessary and painful death. It all makes me so sad and the waves of grief frequently come crashing over me.
But I also remember so many comforting things during that unimaginable time in my life: the endless stream of visitors while Gianna was in the NICU, the emails and messages of prayers being lifted up for our family, the countless flowers, bereavement gifts, and cards that arrived on our doorstep even from complete strangers, the huge crowd of friends and family that attended Gianna’s wake and funeral. I felt so loved and supported during that time; it is quite humbling and continues to give me hope in humanity. I can’t help but feel grateful amidst my sometimes-crippling grief.
I often wonder what it was like for our friends and family to deal with us during that time. Hearing about a child dying is devastating. Learning that it is a child of a close friend or family member can be soul-crushing and life-changing. I wouldn’t have known what to say to a bereaved parent before my child died. Everything I know about comforting someone who’s grieving I learned the hard way. And I wanted to share what I have learned and the many ways our friends helped us. [Read more…]