Last Monday night, we got our taxes done.
We've been getting them done by the same guy for a few years now, and we really like him. He's the type of guy that you can sit and talk with and feel like you've been friends for years, but you know, he also does our taxes. We'd probably be friends with him outside of the situation if the right opportunity presented itself.
Last year at tax time, I was pregnant. About 3 months, to be exact. I remember discussing with him how this year would be sweet, because we'd get to take another deduction for our baby! He was pretty excited about it himself, being a tax guy.
This year was totally not as we expected, obviously.
Both of us went to the appointment, which probably wouldn't have been the case had Luke been alive. I'm not sure if he'd made a note in our file about changes for next year or not, but he didn't mention anything at first. Then we inevitably came to the part of the meeting where we discussed our disability pay for the year--whether there was anything we needed to do? I took my full maternity leave, so my W2 was missing a substantial chunk of my pay for the year, which dropped my reported income considerably. We were also sort of confused about Jeff's claim...And oh yeah, are therapy bills tax deductible in any way?
So all of that led up to the inevitable part where we filled him in on what happened in September.
Life presents strange opportunities, sometimes. And the look on his face when we told him what happened was not really what I expected. He seemed to take it pretty personal. And then he told us why. This happened very recently to one of his friends...Nearly the same exact scenario. And it's been hard, because he didn't know what to say or how to act or what to do for them. And then he flat out asked us what he should do, because he's been struggling with it.
First, the fact that he cared so much about doing the right thing at all struck me. Most people blurt out the same tired cliches over and over when they hear someone died. "He's in a better place." "God needed another angel." "Everything happens for a reason." I know in the end...they're all just trying to make you feel better. But the reality is...nothing will make this feel better. All of those thoughts are just cliches to TRY and make us feel better. But they're just words.
I told him that the worst thing he could do is avoid them. And maybe the best thing to say is just "I'm so sorry this is happening to you." I'm not an overly religious person, and it bothers me when people play the religious card in death. The bottom line is that life equals death, in the end. We're humans, and that's all there is to it. There is no rhyme or reason to the order in which these things happen.
I told him to really, honestly, try not to make any discussion with them be about how he feels. Inflicting your thoughts and beliefs onto them...at this time of incredible pain, is mostly just self-serving, so don't make it about you. I've now been the shoulder that people cry on--ABOUT US--a few times, and I can't tell you how awkward that can feel. Sometimes I feel like joining them. But then it also angers me that I'm having to be strong for them. It's my life they're crying about...and I'm the one getting cried on?
I told him to try not to be afraid to talk to them about their child. Their child was real, just like Luke. And bringing them up doesn't make us sad...because we're already sad. That part is forever. They're at the forefront of our minds 24/7. There's no "bringing them up" because they're already there--a constant. So don't feel like you mentioning them is going to make us hurt. That part is already done.
Getting all of this out--to someone that genuinely needed the guidance--felt so good. I hate that we're getting asked for advice in this scenario, but if our experience can help someone be a better friend, or family member, or person, then I'm all in. All in. Because grief isn't spoken about enough. It's something people sweep under the rug...trying to avoid the inevitable pain that already exists in our hearts.
But it never really goes away. It just becomes a part of our existence. Luke will always be a part of me, and to share his story with others gives him meaning...