Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Say Her Name

For some reason, some people will not bring up Kenley in conversation.  They will go to great lengths to steer the conversation away from her.   It has been almost five months since her death, and since I have not been a hermit, I have interacted with many people.  I have bumped into several people I know in the grocery store or at the mall, and most (though not all) conversations consist basically of an exchange of pleasantries, a well-meaning conversation about anything but Kenley, and then a "hey, you take care!"  And I always walk away with the realization that I just made someone very uncomfortable - just by running into them.  

None of these people are rude or insensitive.  None of them mean any harm. In fact, I am sure all of them have my best interest at heart.  They don't want to bring up painful memories or talk about things that could possibly upset me. I can understand that.  Here's the thing, though.   I am already upset.   I am already sad and angry and feeling terrible.   Even if I am smiling or laughing or joking around, underneath, I am still upset.  You will not bring up anything that will make me more upset.   You will not make me suddenly remember what happened - I didn't forget.  You will not stir up old feelings or open up old wounds.  Feelings of loss do not age and wounds do not heal.   There is only one thing you can do that will make me feel worse - and that is to not acknowledge my daughter - to brush past the fact that I am a mother, that I was pregnant, that this happened.   To ignore my loss - that is what will make me upset.

I want to talk about her.   I want to talk about being pregnant.  I want to talk about how beautiful she was and about how much I miss her.  I want to talk about how I am healing and what I am doing to make my life meaningful again.  And I want you to listen - without pity. I am not talking about her for sympathy.  I am talking about her because she is important to me.  I am talking about her because she changed my life, and I need to tell you how.   And then, I want YOU to say her name.   I want you to recognize her as a person.   A person with an identity.   She was alive.  For 36 weeks, she was alive.  She had a personality - even if I was the only one who got to experience it.   It was there.  SHE was there.  

It is okay to talk about her.  It is okay to talk about the fact that she was alive and now she is dead.  It is okay to talk about my feelings and your feelings regarding that fact.   Above all things, it is okay to say her name. Kenley.   Kenley Evelyn Wood.   She is my daughter.  She has a name.  Every time I hear it, my heart does not break - it glows.  It heals.  It uncoils a little from its spiral of pain.  Kenley Evelyn Wood.   Say her name.


  1. Has it occured to you that they might not bring Kenley up in conversation because it upsets them as well? It might not have anything to do with "protecting your feelings" or anything to do with you at all. Maybe they are protecting their own feelings.
    When you choose to approach these (or any) obstacles by truly looking at them from outside yourself, you might be surprised at what you find. Life might just become a little easier.

    1. Of course that has occurred to me. It occurs to me every day. I know it makes people uncomfortable. I want to let people know that it is OKAY to talk about things that make them upset. It is okay to talk about your feelings. It is okay to talk about death. There is a taboo in our culture surrounding death, especially the death of babies. People are uncomfortable talking about it, but it should be talked about. Talking about things that upset us is what helps us heal - not shoving them under the rug and avoiding them.