Oh, Rick

If you follow politics at all (and I, unfortunately, do), you may have seen Rick Santorum come under fire for being a hypocrite.

The charge stems from the pro-choice left and pro-choice feminists who accuse Santorum of exercising a right for his wife (late term abortion) that he would take away from other women. He would, frankly, outlaw all abortions if he could, even in the cases of preserving the health or life of the mother.

I’ll be honest, I don’t like Rick Santorum. The term used in a conversation on Twitter was “theocratic neocon”, and I think that is spot on. Even as a Catholic, I don’t like that much religion in my politics. I’d like to see the end of social conservatism as it is practiced in American politics today. I don’t think government should be involved in personal, medical, or sexual decisions that adults make.

That Santorum, and by extension his wife Karen, is under fire for a medical decision — a choice — that he and his wife were facing when Karen was pregnant with their son Gabriel, distresses me mostly because of what is being overlooked. And that is the lost baby, and the bereaved parents.

I don’t need to go on and on about how awful, how absolutely devastating it is to lose a child. I’ve covered that pretty well here.

I am sorry the Santorums lost a baby. I am sorry that they faced a difficult medical decision (to induce labor so Karen could deliver her 20-week-old baby). Due to a number of circumstances (medical problems the baby had, fetal surgery, and a uterine infection), Karen was literally dying when these medical decisions had to be made. She went into pre-term labor, and Gabriel was delivered. He died two hours after his birth.

It’s a sad story that has been dragged out because of Santorum’s politics. That makes me sadder. Because those in the media who would use this to disparage Santorum’s politics, in my opinion, just look ugly. It’s a dead baby; it’s a woman who suffered more than I can imagine (and, hello!); it’s a husband and father who were facing not just the loss of his son, but the loss of his wife — his partner, his love, and mother to his other children.

No one should have to face that, or make the choice that Karen and Rick (almost) had to make. But it does happen, couples do have to face that — not often, but often enough — and, yes, Santorum should have no say in what other women and other couples decide.

Regardless, my heart goes out to the Santorums for the loss of their son. I do know how that feels. It’s the worst feeling in the world. And it can’t help that they have to revisit it now in the glare of the spotlight. I’m sad for them.

And, that is all.

[updated to add:]

So I went ahead and forgot about the part where certain people were also denigrating the Santorums for taking Gabriel home to show him to their children.

This was how Karen and Rick decided to help their children grieve the death of their brother.

It’s also not very much of anyone’s business.

Janet, at Love Is Blonde, wrote a very powerful post about her reaction to some of the media reaction, and their characterization of the Santorums’ actions as gross or creepy.

It made me remember holding my Gabriel. I should’ve held him longer too.

I remember my brother — who was still at the hospital at 2 a.m., when Gabriel was finally delivered, who was already a father two times over, most recently of a boy born a month before Gabriel — who came into the room, and took my son into his arms, and *rocked* him. Even though my son was dead, my brother held and rocked him just as he would’ve had Gabriel been alive.

The next morning, before we left the hospital, I asked to see Gabriel again. I undressed him, and cried some more over his small, still, perfect body. Maybe that strikes you as gross or morbid or creepy.

My son was a real baby. And I needed to see and touch him, so that I would never forget it. If I had had other children at the time, I think I would’ve wanted them to see Gabriel too. As it is, we visit his grave. Flora and Kate know he existed (Michael, obviously, is unaware as of yet).

I don’t think the Santorums did anything wrong.

There, I guess *that’s* all.

The Thing I Didn’t Tweet About

Last Friday, Dan, the children, and I headed to Erie to celebrate Christmas with my parents (aka Nonna and Pap-pap).

On the way, feelings of intense grief began to surface.

I reached for my phone to tweet something about it. Something like, “Suddenly really missing Gabriel.”

And then I didn’t.

I put my hands back in my lap, and let the feeling engulf me. I cried a little. I turned to my husband and told him the way I was feeling. We held hands. I said, “I would think I would be over this feeling by now.”

I didn’t mean I would be over being sad. I’ll never stop being sad or missing Gabriel.

The grief continued on and off throughout the weekend. For the first time in a long time, it wasn’t just feeling a little sad that my first son wasn’t with us. It was grief, painful and sharp, keener than it’s been… probably since Kate was born.

I didn’t tweet about my grief for one reason.

It wasn’t because I felt I would be ignored, that my grief for my son would fall on deaf ears. My followers are in many cases my friends as well, and they wouldn’t let me down. They would reach out to me (virtually) in my time of grief. Of this I have little doubt.

It wasn’t because I wanted to hide my grief. That I didn’t want to talk about my baby loss (as Dan termed it this weekend “baby sadness”) at what is supposed a joyful time of year — about the birth of a baby. It wasn’t because I thought I would be raining on people’s Christmas or holiday parade.

I didn’t tweet about my grief because I needed to be with my grief. And I needed to be with my grief with my small group, primarily my husband, of course, but I did talk about the way I was feeling with my parents after dinner on Christmas Eve.

I don’t know what factors contributed to the resurgence of my intense feelings, whether hormones, exhaustion, or stress, or why some of the music I heard made my sentiment well (“Coventry Carol” and “Gabriel’s Message” from A Very Special Christmas album were definite triggers, as well as a couple of tracks from A Christmas Together – John Denver & The Muppets). Although I consider myself very blessed in my marriage and my other three children, something about Michael being a year old perhaps made me feel Gabriel’s loss more keenly.

And, let’s face it, what I love Twitter for (besides my tweeps) is the immediacy of the medium. You have a thought or feeling or question, and you can just shoot it out into the ether and be done with it. And then you can check your @’s obsessively to see if anyone agrees, disagrees, or has the answer. It can be used for conversation, for soliciting good prayers and thoughts (something I had just used it for the day of Michael’s ear tube surgery), for checking in with other tweeps. I have never made any secret of my fondness for Twitter, but it’s not necessarily for dwelling on things.

I had to do that with my grief. I had to sit with it, share it with the people who were physically present to me, work through it. By Christmas Day, I really felt much better — not just because some of the external factors were resolved. I had had a couple of nice days with friends in Erie (and beer), and with my kids and parents, and I was more rested.

I also processed my grief, recognized and acknowledged it. It surprised me in its timing and intensity. I thought those high waves were far behind me; clearly I was mistaken. And that’s okay.

I hope you all had Merry Christmases and Happy Holidays. And if you had grief, I hope, like me, you had the time and space — or took the time and space — to go through it. Many well wishes and happy thoughts for you all.

Repost: The Worst Day(s) of My Life

Today I am giving a talk at Podcamp Pittsburgh about Blogging Grief. This is a repost of one of my earliest posts about Gabriel, in November 2007. He was already 4+ years gone, but that doesn’t mean this was easy to write. It’s still not easy for me to read. And, fair warning, there are pictures at the end. They may be tough viewing.

On June 4, 2003, I had a pre-natal visit. I was pregnant with our first child. Everything seemed to be going fine.

Twenty-four hours later we were a long way from “fine”.

I first noticed that the baby was quieter than usual that evening, June 4. I didn’t think too much of it because I had literally just been at the midwives and had heard his heartbeat (at the time, we didn’t know he was a boy, and we didn’t have the name Gabriel picked out). But even after a vanilla milkshake from Bruster’s with a banana added that night (can’t drink those anymore; frankly it’s a wonder I can visit a Bruster’s at all), he wasn’t kicking around.

The next day, I went to work. At the time I was working part-time as a receptionist at a hair salon, and as a freelance writer. I had decaf coffee, a Pop Tart, and then some grapes. Nothing from the baby. I called the midwives, and told them my concern, that I hadn’t felt the baby moving.

It had been less than 24 hours since my appointment. They were mystified. The midwife I spoke with suggested I have a high-carbohydrate snack and see what happened. I explained I had already done that. She asked if I would like to go to the hospital so they could find the heartbeat or do a sonogram.

We really thought everything was fine at this point. I could say something dramatic like, “I already knew my baby was dead” because in retrospect I know that now. But I didn’t think he was dead. I just thought he was quiet.

(Look, I don’t want to go into a blow-by-blow of this experience. I am going to pick the strongest images and emotions from the next few days and give them to you. We’ll go from there.)

The worst words in the world that a pregnant woman can hear: “We can’t find the heartbeat.”

The worst words a pregnant woman has to say: “I lost the baby.”

The worst moment after the worst words: When DearDR rushed into the hospital room with “that look” on his face. “That look” was so lost and scared and vulnerable. It was the look, that when you see it on someone’s face after they’ve lost someone, that you want to say, “I’m so sorry” or — worse — “It’s going to be okay.” And I couldn’t say either of those things to him. I was sorry, sorry for all of us. But it certainly wasn’t going to be okay.

The worst pain: After the epidural wears off, and they won’t bolus it anymore because the next time they turn up the pain meds, it’s because you’re getting a C-section.

The worst memory: Not having much of a memory of the hours after they hook you up to a morphine drip.

The worst denial: Denial is a powerful thing, my friends. Denial says, “They are all wrong, and this baby is fine, and when I finally get this labor started, I’m going to push out a fine, strong, healthy baby. Won’t everyone be surprised? It’s going to be great!”

The worst of everything (aside from the obvious): The look on everyone else’s face. The expression of sorrow and pain on most, and the resolute expression that your father has because he’s here to comfort you, and the pity on other faces, and the fear that everyone is hiding because why is this taking so long and why don’t they just do a C-section already, and if I have to be here one more day I’m going to lose it. The force of good cheer some of your visitors bring with them mistakingly thinking this helps you be strong.

The second worse: The waiting. The pain. The drugs.

I delivered Gabriel on Sunday June 8 at 2 a.m. in the morning (that time is not exact). It was Pentecost Sunday.

To paraphrase (a lot): “The Lord said, ‘I will send my Holy Spirit to you in your hour of greatest need. And he will make you strong.'”

And the Spirit did. I would be lying if I didn’t add, I wish I hadn’t needed the Spirit quite as much. God could have kept the Spirit if I could have had my son. It was, indeed, the darkest hour in my life. I am pretty sure DearDR would second that.

Gabriel was 5 pounds 4 ounces and 21 inches long. He was a beautiful baby — he truly had the most gorgeous hands, with long, long fingers.

I wish I knew what color his eyes were. I wish I had heard him cry. I could fill pages and pages of all that I wish in relation to Gabriel. You get the idea, I’m sure. If you are a parent; if you have lost a child. You know.

Gabriel was the name that DearDR and I picked before the morphine hook-up, when the epidural was still working. We picked a girl’s name, too, but I don’t remember what it was. Gabriel means, “gift of God”. And if that sounds weird, well, I’ll explain it another day. I’m pretty wiped out right now.

You can imagine why.

8

The 8-year-old boys I know are receiving their First Holy Communions. They are helping their dads and uncles build backyard playsets. They are scoring goals and hitting home runs.

My boy born eight years ago isn’t doing any of that. And he won’t ever. I watch these other boys, amazed at what they do, amazed that I still miss that my son — my *first* son — won’t do any of these things.

I still cry sometimes about it. Usually in private.

It also lends me some perspective, of course. When one of my children is being difficult to parent, I think to myself, “Well, at least I get to parent her.” When Michael gets me up for the second time in the night for a snuggle, I am able to remember that the alternative sucks worse than broken sleep.

Which is not to say my live children get a pass. But it does, sometimes, give me pause.

My children — Flora, Kate, Michael — will receive communion, and score goals or do back flips, and will draw me into awkward conversations. Gabriel will never, and it’s weird some days to figure out if Gabriel is still their “older” brother since, from the moment that each of them drew their first breath of air, they lived longer than my first-born son.

I’m a little sad today, and I’ll be a little sad every time I watch an 8-year-old boy be an 8-year-old boy this year. Sadness goes with the territory as much as perspective.

I haven’t been to the cemetery in awhile, and I miss the ritual. It was soothing. Maybe I’ll try again this weekend, after Flora’s soccer game. Just a quick stop, some white flowers. Six now. To see his name, and to see my live children wander among the angels.

Don’t Call Him Angel in the Morning

Michael is a sweet baby.

Michael has an incredibly pleasant personality.

He smiles at everyone. He seldom cries in public.

He’s pretty adaptable. He rolls with what is going on and where we have to go. Thank goodness, especially this last weekend. Sometimes when he falls asleep in the car, and wakes up someplace not at home, he does look around like: where are we and how did we get here? But usually when he sees me, and/or sees his bottle, he’s pretty content.

When he gets tired, he fusses; I give him a little bit of a bottle, his binky, and he falls asleep on my shoulder. This is one of my favorite things: when Michael falls asleep on me.

People comment on how good he is. They are charmed by him, calling him sweet, handsome, adorable… so many complimentary things. I usually agree with them.

It bugs me a little bit, however, when someone says he’s an angel.

Of course people *are* going to say Michael is an angel.

But he’s not. Gabriel’s an angel, my angel baby.

Michael? He’s better than a angel. He’s here.

++

Disclaimer: I know this is my issue. No one means to be insensitive. It’s not like I wear a sign around my neck: Mother of a Still Baby. I’m not getting my panties in a twist over it. It just bugs me sometimes, and I write about stuff that bugs me.

As a matter of fact, it seems like all I write about lately are things that bug me. I need some good news or a cute Flora story soon.

Maybe some pictures. Something lighthearted and fun.

Suggestions welcome.

++

What do people call your babies (or spouse, or pet) that bugs you? What do people call *you* that bugs you?

The Never Ending Story

I have come across a couple of reflections on grief on the Interwebs in the past week.

Her Bad Mother, Catherine Connors, talks about what is beautiful about grief and heartbreak. Catherine’s father died unexpectedly last year, and her writing about the experience and its aftermath is powerful and gorgeous. (You should go watch this video, too, for its graceful beauty.)

A writer from a site I frequent, Slate.com, Meghan O’Rourke, has a book out called The Long Goodbye. It was written in the aftermath of her mother’s death on Christmas Day of 2008. She reflects not only on her own experience, but on the larger context of grief in society. I haven’t read the book yet, but her articles  have been fascinating.

Both of these women have gotten me thinking about my own experience of grief as it pertains to Gabriel. Especially where they touch on the trouble of grieving in our culture. There seems to be a common misperception that the death of someone you love is something to be gotten over, that eventually, a parent’s death, a child’s death, a spouse’s death, is something we move beyond — or it should be.

And, according to our culture (that is, a Western culture) the sooner the better.

In part, I think we can blame the Kubler-Ross model for this idea of “getting over”. I think people mistake the idea of acceptance in grief as “the end” of grief. As someone who has grieved — who still grieves — acceptance means moving forward and through; it means incorporating the grief into your life. We’ve got this tidy little model to look at, and we often overlook the fact that these stages aren’t hard and fast rules. Even Dr. Kubler-Ross noted the stages aren’t meant to be complete or chronological. It was just a way to recognize grief, not a blueprint for how to experience it.

I think we people who experience deep grief need to fight against this idea as grief as something that is supposed to end. Actively. For our own sakes and sanity, as well as those who come after us. Maybe we need to change the culture of grief from the inside.

While I cannot speak to the death of a parent (knock on wood) at this point, I have talked about this in relationship to the death of my first son at Glow in the Woods. In short, you never get over it. And that’s okay.

Mike Spohr of the Spohrs are Multiplying lost his daughter Madeline, and he writes about being defined by that loss. And that it’s okay. Our losses — like so many other things in our lives — define us. Not in a limiting way (unless we let them), but in an expanding way.

I also share in the spirit of Catherine’s comment to the effect that we should — instead of pushing grief or heartbreak away — step back and *feel* it. As she says, “…Try to take the time to go, ‘ow’ and really think about that ‘ow’.”

After all, I was thinking, what is wrong with being sad about losing someone? What is bad about wailing and crying, about the rituals of grief? Someone DIED. Maybe there is something unseemly about a grieving mother or a grieving adult child — the tears, the snotty noses. But I think that’s society’s issue, not the grieving person’s.

Also, what does pushing grief away do to our relationship with the person who died? Encouraging me to “get over” the death of my son sounds to me, “Just forget about him.” That seems so callous! The impatience our society brings to the experience of grieving is damaging — doubly damaging — to the people who have lost. In my opinion.

I also want to say here: I have been incredibly supported in my grief, from the time that I had to make the hardest phone calls I ever made in my life right up to every anniversary of Gabriel’s death. Early June brings emails and cards and phone calls — not the flood that happened when Gabriel died, of course — but one or two (or 10) from people who just say, “I’m thinking of you.” My mother, for one, acknowledges Gabriel regularly. I don’t know that it is easy for her to do it, but I also don’t feel as if she’s forcing anything. Sometimes at a holiday gathering, often on Mother’s Day, she’ll make a passing reference to our loss. And it helps keep me sane. It anchors my son in the world.

I think talking about my grandmother might do the same for my mom. I hope so anyway.

These people who died lived first.

Have you ever grieved? Do you still? How do you do it? And do you think society should be more accepting of grief and grieving than it is?

Year Seven: Perspective

Yesterday, I got home to realize that Dan had run a half-full dishwasher, while still leaving some dirty dishes in the sink.

Kate pooped in her pants again. I yelled. Again.

Between the two of them, the girls ate half of my salad greens at dinner. Kate had to be bribed to eat two noodles, while Flora cleaned her plate.

Kate spilled her sister’s orange juice all over the floor. Flora sprayed Febreeze in her hair.

This weekend, Dan spent a lot of time with us, his “girls”.

This weekend, Flora was brilliant. And whiny.

This weekend, Kate made me so mad I cried. This weekend, Kate made me laugh so hard I cried.

If Gabriel had lived, he would be 7 years old. I would have stories to tell about him.

As it stands, he doesn’t have much of a story. He lived, he died, he was born.

Last night, we had brownies for dessert — what my older daughter insists on calling brownie lasagna because she thinks brownies are round and come three to a bag. I’ve mentioned I’m not much of a baker, yes? The girls got baths, and a night-time show, and a book. We squabbled at bed time over what light to leave on. Flora insists she will have nightmares.

Grief this year is less like grief qua grief, and more like anxiety and worry. Grief this year is the realization that missing a person, a child, doesn’t mean that other things don’t happen — the crying and laughing and cuddling and frustration. Other babies, and fatigue, nausea, and worry (again).

Grief this year is looking around and realizing that it’s just part of my life, our life. Missing Gabriel is just part of the adventure we are on. For better or worse.

In the meantime:

Third Degree

I have been seeing a lot of my MIL lately, and that’s saying something because they do live right next door. I have no issues with such an arrangement, especially as Bella and Tadone are very helpful when it comes to kid-related wrangling.

I was talking to Bella one evening at dinner (hosted by her) regarding arrangements for my ultrasound. As the appointment was at 7:45 in the morning, she offered to take the girls overnight and drive them to daycare the next day.

And she had quite a few questions for me.

Since I have announced this latest pregnancy, I have faced a lot of concern from my parents and from my in-laws.

And it’s okay, and not completely unexpected. It certainly didn’t help that I haven’t been feeling that hot, and I totally look like it.

Bella’s line of questioning was a little unexpected although not altogether unwarranted.

She wanted to know why, when I was pregnant with Gabriel, doctors didn’t find the problems that led to us losing him.

After all, her reasoning went, in my latter pregnancies, ultrasound did detect issues of low amniotic fluid and other possible placental issues that led to steps to protect the baby. (Not to mention Kate’s CCAM. Ah, good times.)

What I explained to her was that there was no reason for further ultrasounds with Gabriel (after our 20-week Level II u/s, which is standard in most pregnancies) because to anyone’s knowledge, Gabriel was just fine.

There were no growth issues, his heartbeat was fine, movement was fine. I was fine. There was no reason to suspect for any reason that he would die.

However, it is precisely because he did die that I did get more monitoring in my subsequent pregnancies. Kinda a catch-22 if you see it, only backwards. Kate started getting ultrasounds every 2-3 weeks once they found the CCAM; with Flora, I started weekly non-stress tests and bi-weekly ultrasounds at 31 weeks.

I know Bella’s intentions were good, and that her curiosity came from a place of genuine concern. At the time, the questions were pretty intense, though, as they are (obviously) still on my mind a couple of weeks later.

Since getting pregnant this time around… to say I have tried NOT to think about Gabriel would be misleading. If I’m pregnant, I’m thinking of Gabriel; it was true with Flora and Kate, and it’s true this time around. I guess it’s most accurate to say I’ve tried not to dwell on Gabriel. I don’t exactly have the luxury of assuming that all is going to be just fabulous and go smoothly with my pregnancy. Even Flora and Kate proved that, just not to the devastating affect that Gabriel did.

But there’s also no sense in dwelling on what can go wrong. I knew that we would have to get in-depth with my midwives and doctors regarding a plan for this pregnancy, and I should probably think about what I’m going to do if I’m placed on modified bed rest this time around.

But all this stuff, right now at least, is not exactly top-of-mind. It’s floating around out there, and I know I will have to address it.

I guess I was a little shaken by Bella’s questions because I hadn’t taken those steps yet, made the plans, had the conversations. And because I don’t want to dwell. (Yeah, this is me, not dwelling.)

As well, it’s that time of year, again, that span of time that Gabriel is most on our minds.

I just try to be quiet and be faithful. There’s not much else to do. I’m in good hands, and I don’t just mean with medical personnel.

Over Here

A while ago, I was asked to write a guest post at Glow in the Woods. Kate of Sweet l Salty and a Glow in the Woods contributor asked me based (partially) on the fact that I’m more than six years out from the death (and birth) of my first baby.

I am constantly sobered and heart-broken over the fact that a site like Glow in the Woods needs to exist. There are new babylost parents out there every day. When I stumble across another mother or father who has lost a baby, I want to reach out to them. Kate asked me what I would tell a newly bereaved parent. What I will tell every newly bereaved parent.

This is my answer.

+++

Given the depth of talent and moving writing on tap at Glow in the Woods, I just want to add that I am terribly humbled by my inclusion. I have not examined my loss (except as a reader of other Glow in the Woods contributors) through Buddhism, for example. I find Chris’ contributions especially helpful; in his words I recognize what happened (is happening) behind my husband’s eyes from that day and forward. I don’t know that I’ve ever thanked him for that. (Thank you, Chris.)

And thank you, Kate. For even considering me worthy of writing at Glow in the Woods. That my writing attracted the attention of such an amazing writer as you is honor enough.

It’s (Not Always) the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

This time of year (obviously, if you’ve been around here this past week) makes me very reflexive. That is, given to reflection.

And, lately, I’ve been thinking of Gabriel. Not the archangel, the son, my son. (Possibly the son because of mentions of the archangel.)

As I often do when thinking about Gabriel, my son, I wandered over to Glow in the Woods, where I was reminded, forcibly, that I am not alone. Unfortunately.

The first Christmas after Gabriel died, I did not want to do anything. We did not put up a tree; we did not decorate; if we exchanged gifts, I’m sure they were of the book/DVD variety  — nothing special to my mind.

I don’t remember what we did. I think Christmas Eve at his parents; Christmas day at mine. To add to the pain of the holiday, my SIL’s boy was only two months old. It was horrible. (None of my brothers’ sons, of which he had two at the time, a toddler & an 8-month-old, were in Erie when we were. Which was probably very helpful to me and my peace of mind. Such as it was.)

I probably drank a lot. Which is probably why I don’t remember very much.

Christmas is about the birth of a child. It is a holiday rife with images of babies and children — happy, lively babies and children. The irony of celebrating such a holiday is soul-crushing for a bereaved parent, especially in that first year. I am not exaggerating.

For me, I am sure it only got better because the next Christmas that rolled around featured Flora. And it was still difficult, and not just because of the stunning lack of sleep.

Grieving is hard for anyone this time of year. The pressure to express forced gaiety must be enormous. I for one would love to let the grief-stricken off the hook.

There is no ‘joy to the world’ when your baby (father, mother, spouse, fill in the blank) is (recently) dead. A first holiday without him/her is numbing. I stumbled forward — Dan and I stumbled forward together.

Six years after that Christmas, here we are reveling in our daughters’ wonder and joy. Answering questions about Santa. Buying gifts and decorating trees. Toying with the idea of baking (not really). Creating gifts for teachers.

But not all of us babyloss parents are here. Not all of those newly bereaved are here.

If you know someone recently bereaved, reach out. I know you don’t know what to say. Say, “I’m thinking of you.” Say, “I’m thinking of him/her too.” Say, “I miss him/her too.” Send a card, send an angel ornament. The grateful feeling that person will have, knowing he or she is not alone with their memories, their loss, it will be a gift. [Edited to add: Need proof that what I say is good advice? Go here. I’ll be writing her an email myself soon.]

[Edited to add: And I’m touched, too, by this post. I thought of Her Bad Mother — and a number of people I know who have lost parents this year — when I was writing. I’m glad I told her.]

Here is the comment I left at “winter. discontent.”:

“And if I am going to sit here, with everyone in the [Glow in the Woods] community, I will say, Take it easy on yourself. Try not to let others’ expectations force you into ‘celebrating’. Use the winter as an excuse to hibernate with your spouse, and your grief. It’s okay. Have some tea; have some wine. Rest.

“This time of year can be like a slap in the face. I remember that. I think it’s okay to turn your face away, and wait for the new year, the new spring.”

Peace.