Sorry if I’m too curious…

16 May 2005 at 8:19 (General)

A few weeks ago, mum was looking up the address details for the wife of a relative who’s recently passed away when I saw their names listed side by side. I was curious, how long do you have to wait before you can delete someone from your address book? Mum gave a very vague answer basically alluding that she had no idea. A few hours later I was still thinking about this. In reply to a related comment mum said, very sensibly that it wasn’t like she was going to mark a date on the calendar to erase his name. More likely, she would be looking for someone else’s number in a few months time and by then she would know whether it was an appropriate time to make the amendment.

For no particular reason it seems wrong to remove someone from your listing, like you’re deleting a part of their soul, erasing their legacy, letting go of a memory. But then again, it’s not like you’re going to be needing their details anymore. I remember renaming a friend’s phone number to his dad’s name in my mobile. I think it was before the funeral. I did what was seemed logical rather than what felt right. I want to know what the acceptable time is.

Another thought that came up, in the paper it says, “in loving memory of jane, daughter jill (deceased), …etc…” I was wondering how long a child would have to live to get a mention. For example, I had no idea if someone would mention a child that only lived to the age of 2. I’m told they do, mum makes sense of it saying that the child was still loved and still loved in return. What about an infant who died only a few weeks old? Apparently it is normal to give them a mention. Mum says still births don’t normally get a mention, but sometimes they do. Sometimes during birth notices all of the still births that have come before are honoured. So what about babies that have died during labour? I don’t have any of these experiences but looking at people who’ve had to deal with still births, you can see the massive impact that it has on them. It must be devastating on a totally different level.

I don’t know why I want to know. I don’t understand these social rules and I’m just trying to work it out. but I guess it doesn’t really matter. Mum says that when the time comes up, people just know what the right thing to do is.



  1. Teddy said,

    I don’t have much experience with the first part, but my mum still mentions Emma (My still born sister) almost every time she’s asked how many children she has, even though it happened just over 12 years ago. It just depends on the person. There are no “social rules” to tell you when to let go. You’ll know when the right time is.

  2. Kent said,

    Yeah, my aunt’s stillborn daughter has her own grave (not a full one, one of those little cremation ones).. I think she had a message in the paper too.

  3. Deirdre said,

    I envy your Mum’s confidence: I don’t think any of us EVER know what the right thing to do is. It seems a bit hit and miss to me.

    Renaming your friend’s phone number: what do you think? It sounds like maybe you now think it was too quick. Grief makes you do weird things, though. You’re never quite yourself in that sort of experience. And it all depends on what something means to you as well. If the number WAS just a phone number, doing the logical thing was sensible. If it meant something more, maybe it would’ve been better to wait until… Until what, though? I don’t know. There probably isn’t an answer – you just have to decide without knowing.

    And the stillborn children – I also have an aunt & uncle who had a stillborn baby. Apparently at the time of the birth, nobody mentioned things like that and parents had to just cope on their own, as though neither the baby or their grief meant anything. They recently had a memorial service for the child and gave her a name – and this is now 30 or 40 years later. They just couldn’t let her go in all that time. Maybe they just needed to mark her passing in some public way, or give her some acknowledgement or something.

    In contrast to their experience, some friends of my sister had a stillborn baby and the hospital allowed them to keep the (dead) baby until they were ready to say goodbye. I guess you’d never be ready, but as ready as they could be.

  4. toto said,

    thanks for your comments everyone. All of your tales add to the bigger picture, gives me a better understanding of how it seems to work. It seems pretty clear to me now that it’s very much an individual, case by case sort of affair, not the sort of social issue that you can slap and rule on and tell everyone “that’s how it’s meant to be done”.

    I would almost go as far as saying, people should work out their own ways of dealing with such things. They should sit and think and follow their heart. Do what seems right at the time. However, I realise that while people are mourning nothing feels right, everything seems wrong. People go looking for solutions, a way to fix things and make the world seem right again. In such situations I’d still advise that sitting back and just taking some time out isn’t a bad idea. Realise that there’s no correct way to feel, no normal way to process such feelings.

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