Saturday night we went to a friends birthday party. We stumbled through the front door loaded up with drinks and Dempsey's things like we had just left 'Toys R Us'......upon arriving I was introduced to an attractive lady with a warm welcoming smile, who shook my hand, introducing herself, her husband and her gorgeous teenage daughter, who had dimples like Dempsey.
A little while later, a friend took me aside and whispered that the lady I had just met belonged to the same club as me......no, not 'Brownies' or the local 'Mom's Group'.......a club no-one ever wants to be part of. Like me, she had lost one of her daughters.
I looked at her trying to see if there was any indication of her grief...no, there were no visible scars, no big red sign hanging around her neck that screamed "My daughter died and I miss her", she seemed happy, laughing and chatting away like any other party goer. I wondered how she was coping and wondered if I should approach her and tell her I was sorry for her loss, and that she wasn't alone....that my daughter had died too. I decided it was the right thing to do, and that if it was me I'd want someone to do the same......to acknowledge my loss!
So I did, and we sat amongst the noise and shared our struggles about life NOW, she, with tears in her eyes, making me aware her grief is still raw and fresh....we talked about how sad it is that we don't get to say our daughters name as much anymore and how somedays you feel like shouting to the world how hard it is. However, we also laughed and talked about clothes and kids and wine and normal things that women talk about at a party.
When your grief is fresh, social situations can make you feel vulnerable..."What if someone asks if Dempsey is my only child?" or like the many times before, if confronted by my story, people clam up, not knowing how to respond. Before the death of my family members, I would've been one of those people too....but now I know its best to acknowledge the persons loss and show some compassion, even if its just a " I can't imagine how hard it must be."
As I hugged this new friend and thanked her for sharing her story, I looked around the room, no-one else had any idea about our 'new' identities, how loss changes you forever, but also, how you can learn to laugh again and enjoy yourself despite losing a loved one. You don't want to be known as a victim but as a survivor.....and she, like me is a survivor.
Meeting her reinforced to me again, that the human spirit is an amazing thing. We both share something extroadinary in common, however, despite our losses, we can still put on a pretty dress, smile, and be like any other person in the room. You do learn to hide under a mask of make-up and CAN, again, enjoy every challenge and expereince life continues to throw at you.....even if it is too many red wines, on a Saturday night, with a group of loving friends, simply enjoying life....sometimes thats the best medicine of all!
I hope this post can bring you some comfort and know that you will, and can, have sunshine again in your blue cup. :) x
Dempsey and me, Saturday before the party :)