Monday evening, something happened that hit me hard, causing my grief to swell and overwhelm me once again. A simple, ordinary email came from my office. We are going through a major remodel at work, and we are updating our webpage at the same time. Our personal bios on our webpage were written years ago and are definitely out of date. We were asked in that email to update our bios making them more ‘fun’ and adding pictures and things about us that make us unique. For example, one of my partners was on Family Feud so that bit of trivia will be there including a picture.
I thought about it for a moment and then started sobbing. My life is so different from when I wrote that bio years ago. I don’t even want to read the old one, let alone rewrite it. I don’t want to look at that smiling picture of who I used to be when my family was complete. I know that my bio must have been pretty good since I had several patients pick me because of it. I know that I wrote about my amazing family and my love of playing board games and the Iowa Hawkeyes. I know that I sounded like a fun, but nerdy, loving mother. What would a new one sound like?
If I write about my family, which is, without a doubt, the most precious thing in my life, it would have to include Andy. It would be a lie not to do so. If I write about Andy and that fact that he died, I fear that I will scare away new patients. My new, young families do not know that I have lost a child. I will even occasionally tell personal stories about my family to give them encouragement. I will bring up how my middle child (Andy) refused to ever take a bottle or about how he would sleepwalk at night. They do not know that he is dead now. I was actually asked by a new family last week how old my kids were. I just smiled and said that they were teenagers.
I know that many people would be uncomfortable if they knew that I actually talked to them about my dead son. I can see it in the eyes of my older families who do know about Andy’s death. I don’t think that they want to be reminded that something so horrible can even happen. What would it be like if they knew right away? Would anyone even want to have a pediatrician who they think might be sad and grieving? Would I only attract patients who are going through suffering on their own? In some ways that would be good, but in others, I know that it would be difficult for me not to have healthy, happy families in my practice.
I have not yet come to an answer on how to write this new bio. I actually responded to that email right away with tears running down my face. I was told that I could do whatever I wanted to do, including leaving it alone. It seems a bit like a lie though, to leave the old one there. I have asked my friend, Michele, who works at my office to help me when I sit down and work on this next week. I think I will have to find a balance that both honors Andy and the life that I have now, and makes people know that I will still be a smiling pediatrician who loves board games and the Iowa Hawkeyes that their kids will love to come see.
Any outside advice would be greatly appreciated.
That could be an episode with Gwen. It’s one thing to have to keep moving forward day by day sometimes minute by minute, but to actually acknowledge it and put it down on paper with words to describe a life that you don’t want, you want your old life, how does anyone do that?
Those first changes on paper is so very difficult. At the beginning of the new year, changes in your w4, health insurance card changes and having the new cards arrive and your child’s name is now missing from the card you’ve carried in your purse all of their lives. Having to sell a vehicle because there is one too many now but never their’s because your family can’t bear to part with it, changes to car insurance…just so many things that stab you in the heart each time.
The worst of all is having to check the box that your child is deceased. As the paperwork continues on, you are still stuck in that shocking moment of having to check mark that box. It’s all just horrible and painful. I usually have to put it away and prepare myself for the next day to go back and face it again.
Most people don’t realize all those painful things that greet you when you lose your child. They don’t give you a guidebook when you leave the hospital as when you prepared for their birth.