Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Thanks a lot, Hallmark

Yesterday, I stopped in at my local Hallmark store to buy a greeting card. I needed a thank you card and those are located right next to the sympathy cards. *sigh* I actually started looking at a few of them. After Sydney was born, we received some very beautiful cards and I have to admit, I'm a card junkie. I love to receive greeting cards. I save them all. Somewhere I have birthday cards from when I was a kid. I've saved every single card my kids have received.

So as I'm looking at the sympathy cards, I picked up a beautiful one and noticed it was for the loss of a pet. I looked at the categories then and noticed that there were actually two cards for loss of a baby, then one for loss of a daughter, one for loss of a son, and one for loss of a child. However, I also noticed that there were about 10 different cards for loss of a pet. There are more cards to choose from to send to someone whose dog or cat died, but only FIVE cards to send to a person who has lost a child. What the fuck?

Is it worse, in the world of Hallmark, to lose a pet? Or is it merely more socially acceptable to express your condolences when someone loses a pet than when they lose a child? In my not-quite-four-month-old journey as a babylost mama, I've found that it seems this is the one thing people do not want to talk about. Maybe people think it is contagious. Or it's just too sad. Or they don't view the baby as a person worthy of their emotion. I think there are several family members of mine (*cough* Eric's family *cough*) who feel the latter is true. I've dealt with death before. My father, my beloved maternal grandmother, my paternal grandfather. I dread the day I lose my other grandfather or my mother. I can't imagine life without my husband. But my child--whether it was my baby girl who was only in my womb for 20 weeks or my 6 or 7 year olds--there is nothing more devastating to me. I can't imagine there is anything more devastating to any parent.

Maybe I'm bitter about pet loss. My living grandmother had a funeral for her dog a few years ago. Looking back, I'm pretty sure that dog was buried in the same kind of casket that Sydney had. We went to the dog funeral to support my grandmother, who was a mess over losing her dog very suddenly. There was a short ceremony and a burial in the pet cemetery at the groomer they used. The dog now has a full headstone that has his picture on it. When I called my grandmother to give her the details on Sydney's service, a private graveside service and not at a funeral home, she said, "Since you aren't having a real funeral, I guess I won't come in." She lives in Florida now (she lived here in Missouri when her dog died). She said that the airfare would be too expensive, she would be too sad because Sydney's funeral was on the same day as my grandfather's funeral 3 years ago, etc., etc. When I told my sister, she was livid. She said, "Didn't you go to her DOG'S funeral?!" Oh yeah, that's right, I did. I'd forgotten. Yes, travel would be involved, but my grandmother is not destitute. In fact, she's pretty well off. She could've come. But I'm not going to beg someone to do something they obviously didn't want to do in the first place. And she never even sent a card. Maybe when one of my cats dies, she'll send one.

1 comment:

caitsmom said...

Oh, this is at least a five out of five UGH rating. I am so sorry your Grandmother didn't "get it." I've noticed the pet thing too, and I don't like to compare, but truth is I do. I get upset that people will blurt anytime that they were so sad when their dog/cat/gerbil died; and we are too give appropriate oos and ask questions. But bring up sadness for the death of a child and people go "Hey, how 'bout those Yankees?" or they go silent. It's too hard for most to fathom and so they clam up, I think. and Hallmark gets a 5-UGH rating as well. But, you dear mommy get love. I am so sorry. Peace.