Pre-Grieving

Nina, Jeff and I are sick. We brought back something from Jamaica that wasn’t in our suitcases, evidently. Nina’s sick enough that we took her to the doctor, who said that whatever the viral part of this is, she has some kind of bacterial ear infection too, and he put her on amoxicillin. We had to tell him about Jasmine while we were there, which was a little awkward. I guess pediatricians don’t read the obituaries looking for their patients.

So I joined two email lists for grieving parents, but so far it’s been more of an experience in how other people grieve than an experience of my own grieving. Most of the people there lost their children unexpectedly. I haven’t heard from a single parent there with a child with CF, or with a child who had a transplant. The closest I’ve come is a parent of a child who had cancer, who mentioned something about “pre-grieving,” which sent me on a Google quest to find out more about that. Most of the hits were related to divorce, so that didn’t work for me, but it made me start thinking.

How much of my grieving experience is shaped by the fact that, while I didn’t wallow in it, I certainly knew that Jasmine would die before I did. I didn’t have the same hopes and dreams most parents have for their children. I remember moments of smaller deaths — the phone call with Jasmine’s diagnosis when she was 15 months old (“Is this terminal?” I asked her doctor anxiously. “Life is terminal,” she replied gently), realizing that Jasmine would never have children when she was a small child, playing with dolls. Knowing that we would be lucky if she got her driver’s license, even after transplant. I never seriously thought about college, other than in a daydreaming kind of way. I knew the odds were against that. I did hope for more time than we had. I do share the experience of thinking, “Too soon!”

But I feel like, in the neighborhood of grieving parents, I’m living in the house that doesn’t quite fit in on the block. Is that part of my neuroticism? That I always feel like I’m not part of the group? Am I erecting barriers? Maybe. I know it scares me that some of these parents are several years past the death of their children and say they still cry all the time and don’t find any meaning in their lives. I don’t feel that way now, seven weeks after Jasmine’s death. Does that mean that kind of dysfunction lies ahead? Does it mean I didn’t love Jasmine as much as I should have? Or does it mean that the pre-grieving I was able to experience has made my ride on the grief rollercoaster a little different?

On another note, I will be continuing my chronicle of our trip to Jamaica, but I’m resting it for now. I found myself last night on the verge of trying to wrap it all up in one post and realized it was because I’m just not ready to write about it right now. So stay tuned…

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