I’m that woman

December 13, 2008

On the reference desk today with one of our newer library employees (she started at the beginning of the Fall semester), I was talking to her about her computer.

“I don’t have the permissions to open attachments,” she said.

“Oh, I think that’s something I might be able to fix,” I answered. “Let me see what I can do.”

“I don’t know,” she replied, “I think the reason it’s not working is that the woman who usually sets the accounts up is the one whose child didn’t survive.”

I paused.

“That would be me,” I said, not knowing a better way to break the news to her. “That’s why I wasn’t at work until October.”

And I watched as my co-worker realized that I am Grief Girl. “That’s you? ” she asked. “I thought that you would have been out for at least a year after something like that.”

I smiled (I think) and explained that I had to come back to work after my medical leave ran out, and we went back to work.

How much would I give to have never been in a position to have conversations like this? Well, I’ll just say that it’s probably a good thing that bargains with the devil seem to mostly exist in folktales and politics. Though a bit of my soul belongs to Teddy, so it’s not entirely mine to bargain with.



  1. I’m so sorry you had to endure a conversation like this. Sending you strength.

  2. When you told us what she said I sucked my breath in so loud my husband heard and I had to tell him about it. Ouch.

    I’m sorry that you are ‘that’ woman. I’m one too. It sucks.

    On a side note, I like your name of ‘Grief Girl’. I envisage you as a superhero in red spandex. 🙂

  3. I have to admit, if someone said to me, “Wow, you’re already back at work in less than a year?” I would feel like at least someone out there understood that grief from losing your child doesn’t resolve and conclude itself in a few months… I don’t know if it means she “got it” but it’s something. Still, I am so sorry that you are “that woman” and that we have to have these conversations. At work the other day, one of the women there (also a mom) noticed the Tikva on my Tikva-Dahlia necklace. I almost swallowed my beating heart as I prayed that she wouldn’t ask, there, in the middle of the hallway, who Tikva was. Thankfully she didn’t. Maybe she will in the future, and I will tell her, but hopefully it’ll be when it’s just the two of us in one of our offices or something. Sigh… Sometimes I prefer just being anonymous.

    • I thought she handled it very well, and she really did seem to get it. I felt kind of bad, though, as though I’d played a mean trick on her. One minute I was Erica, her coworker, and the next I was (OMG) “that woman.” Grief Girl doesn’t really have a secret identity, but I wonder sometimes if it would be easier if people didn’t know – not so much for me, but for them.

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