If you are friends or family of ours, please do not be offended that I didn't share this site with you. You are more than welcome to stay, read and participate, but be aware that somethings said here are not directed at you. While some of the posts and comments might be uncomfortable for you, remember the purpose of this site: It's dealing with My pain and My Grief that you just can't understand until you lose one of your own. I know you want to help ease my pain (and you have in many ways) but there will always be burdens you can't help me with, so I turn to my fellow bereaved.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Turning a Corner or Just Turning Circles?

First I'd like to thank everyone who has provided us support since I started this blog, but especially the kind words over the last few weeks. It's obviously been a difficult couple of weeks since Olivia's 1st Birthday, but we have managed to make it through 'to the other side' and have grown in the process. Thanks.

There have been days recently where it seems easier to smile, I don't know if it's partly the slow movement from a long gray winter to the bright, crisp early signs of spring, a slow acceptance of what is and how life will be w/o her, or if it's just a temporary respite before the next storm?

When I find myself smiling it's no longer my immediate reaction to feel guilty, the way I did a while ago. Yet there is still an underlying sadness when I realize that my smile could/should be shared with our little girl.While I wouldn't go so far as to describe myself as happy, there has definitely been a change in underlying mood - for the better. Maybe I have just learned to cope better, or know what to avoid, or maybe I'm learning how to compartmentalize.

The other day I was sitting at work (not working), I decided to update my Facebook profile picture. Since Olivia was born, she's been in each profile picture. I'm sure some of my friends think it's quite morbid for me to continue using her photo, but that's their problem. On her Birthday I changed it to the memorial picture I previously posted in 'Crazy Time of Year.' Two weeks later I felt it was time to change it again. I started browsing my Olivia folder to find something appropriate. Of course I always get somewhat melancholy when I browse through her pictures, but this time I got socked in the gut. It's a great picture of her sitting in her bouncy chair. She's got crazy hair going on, and I mean Einstein hairdo crazy, she's got the biggest toothless grin on her face, just having a grand old time. I suspect that she must have been laughing with Grandma then, because no matter what, Olivia would ALWAYS smile for Grandma Barb! So I'm sitting at my desk browsing the pictures feeling sentimental and wham-o I come across this sight and tears just start streaming down my face. I'm not sure if my employees noticed this, but I guess by now they've learned that it's par for the course. I manage to find a more sedate picture of her to upload as my FB profile picture, Olivia gazing off into the distance, hand raised to her mouth ala Rodin's The Thinker as if she was planning her future... who knows she probably knew more about what the road ahead held for her than we did. Of course this all happens moments before my next client arrives... compartmentalization I tell ya, it's a key to survival.

After Olivia's death I quickly learned how to compartmentalize at work, focusing on the task at hand, or I would have been worthless in my job. I'm sure my work suffered over the early months, but I've now made a concerted effort to deal with the task at hand rather than getting distracted and swallowed up by grief. Sometimes this is easier said than done because my personal life is so closely tied to my career. I am the only Veterinarian/Owner of a small Veterinary Clinic, being the only doctor lets me get to know my clients quite well and many of them have become friends over the years. Some followed Olivia's Big Adventure so were quite in tune with her struggles and subsequent death. Others that did not follow her blog might have know about her birth and/or sickness, but are not aware that she passed away last summer. Almost weekly now I have someone come in and ask how Olivia's doing.... It's not their fault, some of them I only see once a year, so the last time they saw me they knew I was a bleary-eyed proud papa... I think I've managed to absorb the question quite well, no longer breaking down when it gets asked. When the client apologizes for asking, I use it as a teachable moment to explain that I'd rather have them ask showing that they cared about Olivia and even tell them little stories about her. It's my way of keeping her alive and making sure she's not a taboo subject to people.

People die, kids die, we all will die, shoving it to the bottom of the closet and slamming that door doesn't change anything. In fact I think it creates more problems in the long run. The sooner we can all accept our mortality the sooner we can actually LIVE and appreciate life for the beauty it can bring. One of my favorite movie quotes of all time, while probably overused seems to fit this situation very well.
Get busy living, or get busy dying
-Andy Dufresne Shawhank Redemption
While it obviously can be soul crushingly painful, what would be the point to shrivel up and die ourselves. I need to live for Olivia's sake. I need to let people know she lived, she touched people's lives far and wide, yes it hurts that she's gone -- and I know I'll have some few choice words to say when I meet my 'Maker' -- but hiding Olivia's existence is the worst thing that could happen, negating her struggles, our pain, our Love, her Smiles.

Of course I'm not quite as cutting and frank when I talk to clients about Olivia's death, but I do make it clear that she's someone I want to talk about and they are free to ask questions. This is where it's critical for me to compartmentalize because clients expect me to then address their animal's needs rather than being an emotional basket case. I'm (mostly) able to then lock my emotions aside for release later when it's safe to do so again.

Looking back over this post, it didn't evolve quite the way I had planned it, but I think my point still came across. While I'm trying to move forward, there are always traps that I've become better at anticipating or defusing before it becomes a crisis. Sometimes though, no matter how I try to control my environment I get sucker punched, reminding me that certain nerves will always stay raw.

I'll leave those of you interested with a song that sneaked it's way into my playlist, providing a needed up-tick in spirits. When the Rainbow Comes - World Party

Mr. Postman look and see
If there's a message in your bag for me
Could be a bomb or it could be a letter
It don't matter it can only get better
Mr. Postman look and see
If there's a message in your bag for me
You know it's been such a long long time
Since I could laugh at this world of mine

Slippin' and slidin' around in your head
It's be-bop-a-lula then baby you're dead
So c'mon make a bright new day
I need a prayer here
Need a blessing
Cast an eye back as you run
Turn around boy!
See the rainbow come


  1. I am glad you have made it through this major first. I am glad time has been gentle on you.

    I so know what you mean about compartmentalisation. It is both a prisoner and liberator of your grief - if that makes sense. Certainly you do well to educate people this early on. And to function at all! Things will get easier with time.

    Olivia is beautiful and well done for having her as your facebook pic!

    Take care

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  3. Lisette said...
    I am so glad that you are coping well, this first year is a crazy roller coaster that only a loss parent can understand. I am fairly new on this journey and I hope in a few months I will be able to post such beautiful words. Olivia's picture is precious, thank you for sharing.

  4. We'll never move on from Olivia we just have to move forward. She is with us every minute of the day ... I have her on my shoulders, in my heart and in my thoughts and that is a true comfort. Life is better having known her and you and Sara will ALWAYS carry her with you!!

  5. Just to let you know I am still thinking of you and Olivia

    How are you? Hope you are surviving and your relative silence here is not a bad sign.

    Peace and healing

  6. Thanks LITR,

    In many (if not most) ways my silence has been positive one, but that just scratches the surface. I will hopefully take some time in the near future to post again and update everyone on our situation. We are coping, found a great local support group, keeping nose to the grindstone at work, which all pushes me onward.

    Thanks for popping in, I promise to post soon.

    PS: I have stopped by your site too over the last months and see that in many ways your 'life' is returning. I am glad to see that, my wife and I talk about our fellow bloggers often.


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