Written By Aditi Loveridge, first appeared in Still Standing Magazine
We had just finished lunch and I was cleaning up the kitchen. I noticed the vase full of dead flowers still on the counter. Without a second thought, I walked over to the vase and pulled out the lifeless flowers.
As I was pulling them out, I heard my four year old living son ask in a panicked voice,
“What are you doing?”
Already halfway to the garbage, I nonchalantly replied “I’m throwing out the flowers, they died”. As I dropped the wilted petals and broken stems into the garbage, I heard my son let out a loud cry.
Confused, I ran back into the kitchen to see what had happened. He was crying so hard, I thought he got hurt.
Surely, this had nothing to do with the flowers…
Between gasping breaths, he finally spoke:
“You threw away the flowers before I could say bye! They were so beautiful. I loved them”
I was in shock. I don’t know how many times in my life I have thrown away flowers that had died without a second thought. But this time, I felt horrible. And insensitive.
I scooped him up into my lap, I told him that I was sorry, and asked what I could do to help. He sat silently, and then requested I bring the flowers back in so he could have a ceremony (his exact word!) to say bye
I came back in with the flowers and watched as my son lovingly and gently touched the broken petals. I listened as he said thank you to the flowers for bringing beauty into our home.
He then whispered, “I love you”.
As somebody looking in from the outside, I did not understand his attachment to those flowers. I did not even realize he had a profound connection to them. But just because I didn’t understand the attachment, the connection or the love….was his grief not real?
Did he not deserve the time and space to honour his grief?
When I had my first pregnancy loss, a first trimester ectopic pregnancy, I felt just like my son did with those flowers.
No one could feel or understand the beauty, the joy and the love that pregnancy brought me. No one could see or feel the connection….but it was there. I did not receive the opportunity to say goodbye. I did not have the chance to express the beauty that I had seen, or the gratitude that I had felt.
I did not get to openly grieve.
For weeks after my loss there was a profound and deep sadness around me. The outside world likely thought….
Surely, this has nothing to do with the loss of such an early pregnancy….
My son has since requested “bye-bye ceremonies” for many things that he has held dear to his heart.
He has shown me that no matter how small, or seemingly “insignificant” a something is, if it was held close to you, you deserve to say goodbye.
No matter if people understand, or see the connection, you deserve to thank it for its beauty. And you deserve to reminisce about the joy. You deserve to ritualize the loss of something, or someone, you once loved; no matter how brief.
So to you, who has had an early pregnancy loss but who doesn’t feel like it is okay to “say goodbye” or to cry…
Honour your attachment, honour your connection.
Most importantly, honour you and honour your grief.