Today's question comes from Alexandra's mom, Maggie. She asked 'How have your relationships with friends/family changed? Have they gotten stronger or weaker?'
This is really a tough question to answer. I can say that, thankfully, nobody has left or been eliminated from our lives as a direct or indirect result of Gracie's death; I know that others are not so lucky. I don't know that I can classify much as stronger or weaker, but everything is definitely different.
For the most part, most of the people consistently in our lives (the ones that are friends or family, as opposed to acquaintances) continue to be there. It is evident that most of them want to be supportive, but in all reality, they just don't always know how to do that. They usually don't know what to say or do, and most don't get that sometimes is a tiny gesture or saying nothing at all that means the most. Some try to remain as positive as they can about everything, but sometimes I'm not necessarily looking for a Positive Polly; sometimes I just want to be a downer for 5 minutes and just get it out of my system. It's hard to explain that to people.
I definitely feel that I still cannot talk openly about having a dead baby with most of my/our friends. It makes people uncomfortable, and usually gets one of the standard and cliche lines...'Everything happens for a reason', 'She's watching over you now'.... It's even difficult to talk to some of my closest friends and get my point across without feeling like they are just pitying us. It's also hard to talk to people without wondering in my head if they are thinking to themselves "I wish she/they would just get over it already." Surprisingly (but not so much when I actually think about it), I have a very easy time talking about Gracie to some of the parents of the kids I work with. There are exceptions to this rule, but most parents of kids with disabilities just get it. They understand and remember that this isn't just something that happened to us...they remember that it was our daughter.
There are two things that stick out in my mind. Small things, but things nonetheless. I was disappointed in our parents on our respective days (Mother's Day / Father's Day) this spring. My father had to be reminded to call me and Jeff's parents did not wish him a happy Father's Day. Again, a small thing and not necessarily something that has changed relationships, but something that will stick in my mind for a long time. (I didn't find out until recently that my father had to be reminded.) The other thing that sticks out is that we have seen a side of our 18 y/o nephew that we never knew existed. Turns out that he's pretty deep. His relationship with Jeff may be the only one in which I can specifically identify change. They seem to have a little stronger bond than they did before, stemming from his reaction to Gracie's death.
So I have typed a lot and not really said much. Maggie, did I answer your question?? :-)