The Bereaved Grandparent

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I get my love of babies and children from my mother.

When she enters a room and sees a baby or a young child, she makes a bee line and her face lights up and then we don’t even try to talk to her for the rest of the visit. She gives them all of her attention and lots of love, so they always soak it up and love her back.

I’ve always been the same way.

Needless to say, when she found out I was pregnant before marriage, I wasn’t even worried she’d be mad. Of course, my announcement started the wheels turning in her head about how she’d finagle the baby out of my arms for more and more time and she entered full on first-grandchild hysteria.

When my water broke late at night, I made sure to wait to call her and told her to stay home until I called her to the hospital. Of course she was there first thing in the morning. During labor, I didn’t want many people around, including her, and told her to just go home and wait, but she sat quietly in the waiting room for at least 12 hours, patiently waiting until my husband came to get her.

The look on her face as she held Cora in the hospital says it all.

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So when she wrote this on Facebook, it reminded me just how much I’ve brushed off her grief in all this. I’ll explain after you read her post:

“”What a shock I had today. There was a knock on the door I answer and there is this Decatur policeman. He wanted someone else. After I closed the door I remembered another apartment another day when I got a knock on the door. The shock when I heard my daughter Kristine and Ben needed me to come to the hospital. I thought what happened. Maybe the baby was sick. The nice policeman said can you drive I can give you a ride. I said I could drive. I raced to my bedroom to get dressed I kept thinking why didn’t I let that nice policeman give me a ride. I was shaking and thought I cant drive. As I shut my apartment door I saw him pulling away from the curb. So I went and flagged him down and asked if I could take him up on that ride. I don’t remember the drive. I just remember walking into that room and seeing Kristine and Ben’s face. That was the worse day of my life trying to stay strong for the kids when inside I wanted to scream no no its not true. Get Cora better so we could take our angel home. Then they came in and said they were rushing her to ft wayne. My hope recovered. We watched them working on our tiny angel and I kept thinking they will save her this is not happening. When I heard the nurse or doctor say lets call it. I wanted to scream no you save my baby Cora. I had to be strong for Kristine and Ben. Then I asked to say goodbye alone and I let it all out. The doctor and nurses were crying with me. So I don’t take it well opening the door to a Decatur policeman. I’m sure he thought I was a crazy older lady cause I kept saying you scared me so bad. He walks away and I say again you really scared me. I closed the door and came in and thought of that other apartment that other night. I will never forget my sweet Cora in heaven. I’m proud to be her grandma. Love you my angel.”"

Just heartbreaking. My mom lived next door to us when we had Cora, but of course that night we didn’t take the time to wake her up, instead driving to the hospital right away. As we sat watching our baby be shot with medications and her chest compressed, eventually the police officer that escorted asked if we wanted him to bring someone to us, and I asked for my mom.

They never did get Cora’s heart to beat again, there was a fleeting moment where they thought there was something faint and they called to a larger hospital. For just that moment, I thought a miracle might be happening, but now I’m almost positive Cora was dead that instant in my arms and nothing was going to make a difference.

Since that moment, I’ve depended on my mom to help with my grief. I’ve also taken things out on her, just like I’ve always taken everything out on her. She gets almost all of my bad side, except the bit saved for Ben, and despite that she continues to tell me I’m kind and caring, and always tells that to other people. She’s seen me unkind, but she knows that I am caring and loving. I’ve been distant at times. I haven’t always been able to be there for my family.

Most of all, I haven’t been supported her in her grief for Cora at all. My grief was just too consuming to support anyone but Ben.

I know I haven’t been selfish through all of this, obviously Cora has inspired me to be more empathetic and caring, but when it comes to grief for Cora, I’ve always given my own self care top billing.

Not today. Mom, today I’m sorry for you. I’m sorry for your first grandchild. I’m sorry my grief out shadows your’s in my world, and you have to suffer in silence. I love you.

I’ve got something planned, inspired by the pain that bled from that Facebook post of yours. Not sure when I’ll unveil it.

To bereaved grandparents of the world, you’re grief is real. You are loved.

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About Kristine

I answer most proudly to "Cora's Mom." After losing Cora in 2009, I've become a passionate newborn health advocate. I'm also an author and speaker. Cora's story is also my story, as I carry her with me everywhere I go. Her memory will never die.