Grief Smells Like Tuna Fish

After Gabe died, when I came home from the hospital, I remember eating tuna fish casserole. Alone. I hate tuna fish casserole, I ate it because I could not figure out how to cook and I needed to eat.  I added the casserole dish to the pile on the counter, made a note of who sent it in the book. I tried to keep the barest remnants of sanity together long enough to return the dish to the correct owner and send a thank you note.

“I just put the books on the shelf. No disrespect if you brought a book”

I did not bring a book. I did not bring a teddy bear, a card, flowers, gift certificates for the spa, poetry or a tuna fish casserole.  Or anything else. I came alone.

This happens. Probably a dozen times since Gabriel’s death. I get a call, an email. See something on facebook. Friends of friends. Your second cousin, twice removed.  It’s just me. That’s all I bring.

When you join the dead baby club, you realize that books only provide help when you are ready, flowers wilt, everyone who doesn’t understand brings casseroles and teddy bears.

You bring you. More to the point, you bring your heart. The real one.The one you don’t let most people don’t see. There’s a huge and bloody chunk torn out of it. You hold it out.

It’s taken me a decade to learn. There are no answers to give. There’s no way to make this make sense. You don’t tell them it will be ok. You don’t provide advice or condolences. You just sit.

The smell of raw blood and pain? That’s ok. I know that smell. I’ve been there before. I can sit with that smell.

It’s the smell of tuna fish casserole, eaten alone, which frightens me.


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1 Response to Grief Smells Like Tuna Fish

  1. Debby Hornburg says:

    I needed to read this today. My children are pregnant again, and they are afraid. Afraid to get excited, afraid to be joyous, afraid to tell the world.

    I agonize over how to make it better.

    Short answer: I can’t.

    Yes. I needed to be reminded of this today.

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