When Kathleen was stillborn, Monica and I became very close in the initial hours surrounding the event. We leaned on each other in a way that we had never had to before and, at least for me, the realization that I could cry and lose control in front of her without feeling like a fool was a huge thing. I remember saying to her in the hospital, "together we can get through anything."
But the first jolt of reality hit only a day later when we got home. Monica came home from the hospital on our older daughter Emily's second birthday. Even though we were exhausted and emotionally drained, we wanted to move ahead with her family party and keep the atmosphere as normal as possible for Emily's sake.
The morning of the party, I got up early and took down the crib that we had set up for Kathleen. It was gut wrenching for me to walk by that room and see it, and it never occurred to me that Monica didn't feel the same way. And, to be honest, I wanted it put away before the party because I thought it would make some people uncomfortable. As shocking as it was for me at the time, I'm assuming that at least some of you reading this now will not be surprised that my thoughtful gesture didn't set too well with Monica. She was angry that I would not consult her before doing something like putting the crib away, and strongly resented the fact that she would not be able to take her time to go through Kathleen's room and put things away over time.
So -- the fact that we were going to have different needs and different ways of processing our grief hit both of us like a ton of bricks. Unfortunately, it was not the last time we would have to face this reality, and it became a real challenge to move forward together rather than alone.
How have your experiences been? Have ways of handling situations worked well for you that would help others to hear about? Are you struggling with a similar issue that would be helpful to get others' feedback on?