I think the people I am around on a daily basis usually fall into three basic categories. There are the people who have had losses similar to ours that fully understand what we have gone through/are going through and who are there to support us no matter what. Then there are the people who have never had a loss and don't understand what our family is going through AND are still very compassionate and empathetic and are there to support us no matter what. And then there are the people who have never had a loss and, although they most likely don't mean to be, they simply aren't very supportive. (I understand that, most times, this is not because they are mean-hearted people...it is simply a true lack of understanding--and not in an ignorant way, either...I'm not trying to be mean here). In the first year or so after Sophie died, I had a lot of anger and bitterness towards that last group of people. I was judgmental and impatient with them and worked hard to avoid them at all costs. I fully acknowledge that, now, nearly 4 years out (which is an easier place to acknowledge things from than when you are so raw from such a loss).
Anyway, for a while after she died, I was getting lots of advice from people on how to move forward. Much of it was useful. Some of it, however, was in that they-didn't-mean-it-to-be-but-it-was-hurtful category. And the thing about that kind of advice is that when you are nursing a completely broken heart and soul, you are actually scared enough to take it. Maybe they are right, you'll say to yourself, maybe if I keep talking about her I will drive myself crazy. Maybe I do "need" to forget about her. And everything in your whole being will tell you the advice is wrong--that it is actually okay to include her in your life and in your family...but that nagging voice--that well-meaning person who told you to forget it and move on--will still be there. Always there. Looking back now, I can see that "advice" for what it was. And I can see that it came from some of the people in my world who are in that third category--the ones who simply don't get it and (hopefully) will never get it. And I can also look back at the me who was so angry and judgmental towards those people and think, I know you won't approve and that is okay. You have no way of understanding and we truly hope that is always true. We love you for what you bring to our life, but this grief journey is ours to take. It feels good to be in a more balanced place. With that in mind, there is something we have been waiting for nearly 2 years to do...and many will think we're nuts. We're okay with that!
When Erin was a toddler, we took her up Day Mountain in Acadia National Park. We had a great day! Two years later, we took the same picture of her sister and when we got them printed, we realized they were actually wearing the same vest for the same hike. So, of course, we had to take Evan up it this fall wearing the same vest! But there is more--I wanted to take an empty picture as well. Just a picture of the sign at the top so that I can put them all together in a frame and show off all four of my babies. Because there really are four, you know.