In our support group, one of the recurring topics is the struggle of what to do with all the visible reminders of our beloved child. . . . the room filled with memories, the clothes, the favorite toys. When do we dismantle this physical evidence of their very tangible parts of our lives and how do we bear that?
Well, one thing is for sure. There is no need to rush this part. The day will come when changing the immediate surroundings seems right, so it is good to simply give ourselves the patience to wait for the heart to let us know when that will be.
One of our support group moms taught us a lesson about this.
They had lost their 9 month old baby, John. He had been sick since birth, so their lives were filled with intense and constant care giving for him. When he died they felt the immense abyss of his absence . . . going from constant-moment-to-moment-attention to silence. The change was so hard. So having his “things” – his crib and the rocking chair in the nursery, the jump chair in the middle of the den and the baby bottles in the kitchen – having all these reminders of the strength of his presence in their family was important. She sometimes worried that she couldn’t put things away, but our group helped her be patient with that.
Then one evening she arrived to our gathering saying she had put his bottles away. It was a huge step. So, we asked how she did that. And she said,
“Well, I picked up one bottle and said, “This is not John.”
And put It in the cabinet.
Then I picked up the next bottle and said, “This is not John”.
And put it in the cabinet.
That is how I did it . . . one bottle at a time, remembering I still
had him with me.”
The courage of that moment is palpable. It takes our hearts time to learn that these tangible things are not what we really need . . . and that what we need, we have. Forgetting our child is so frightening, but eventually we realize that forgetting is impossible.