Mailbox Triggers

August 2, 2017

After nearly ten minutes of staring at my computer screen with an image of a smiling, gleeful baby on it, I clicked the “Cancel Chat” button in the chat box that claimed an agent would be with me momentarily.

Initially my goal was to be taken off that mailing list, for good. However, my frustration had grown, and I couldn’t handle it any longer.

As the bereaved mother of my baby daughter Lucy, it probably doesn’t add up that I’d be trying to engage in an online conversation with an infant formula company. The very thought of feeding a baby makes me want to crumble into dust and disintegrate because I will never get to feed my own daughter.

She passed quietly in my arms only a day after her birth because of an unexpected placental abruption. After a ‘textbook’ full-term pregnancy, my husband and I had no idea that something so devastating could possibly befall us. In the blink of an eye, our entire lives had shattered.

We’ve spent nearly a year now grappling with our heartbreaking new identities as loss parents, crushed under the weight of a crippling grief that has no boundaries.

There is no escape from the devastation that losing Lucy has brought to our existence. Everywhere we look, there are reminders of what should be. Some of those harsh reminders have appeared and reappeared in our mailbox over the past year, like the formula coupon pamphlet yet again, which is what led me to that futile attempt to chat online with an elusive formula company representative.

I thought maybe going to their website to attempt to unsubscribe from the relentless mailings would be easier than a phone call. I was wrong. All I wanted was to be taken off their mailing list, and I still haven’t gotten my wish. Who knew it would be so much to ask?

There are many intensely difficult aspects of being a baby loss parent that most people could never foresee. I had no idea that retrieving the daily mail would become such a game of emotional roulette. I recall vividly, less than two weeks after Lucy died, timidly stepping out of the house to get the mail, only to find a big box of formula samples crammed into the mailbox.

It felt like a sadistic joke was being played on me. I choked back sobs and did my best to make it back through my door without completely falling to pieces in the front yard. I never even signed up for any formula samples. I suppose my mistake was, in the happy days of my pregnancy, like most pregnant women, I created a baby registry. From there, my information found its way around and all things baby showed up in my email, mailbox, and social media feeds.

At the time, I never knew it would become such a nightmarish element of my life. The box of formula was only the beginning. Weeks might pass between those awful little postal deliveries, and suddenly out of nowhere, one appears again.

I can’t anticipate them, but they’re always a cruel surprise every time.

In this life after Lucy, I’ve done my best to unsubscribe or unfollow all things related to the commercial baby industry, but alas, things still slip through the cracks and into my inboxes and mail. Other than the ‘first birthday’ edition of a popular party supplies magazine that appeared a couple of weeks ago, most of those mailbox surprises no longer trigger as large of an emotional reaction, but it still stings. They still serve as a reminder of what will never be.

I’ve found it difficult to stop these painful advertisements from reaching my home, and I know that I’m not alone in this struggle as a loss parent. My frustration with this issue continues to grow. While this may seem insignificant to those who’ve never been touched by such unthinkable loss, it can be truly agonizing. This has been the most difficult year of my life; the grief has swallowed me up, and it’s hard to see through the fog it brings with it. I still long for my baby every day and I miss her terribly.

There are heart-rending triggers everywhere.

While I may have grown more resilient to many of them, it’s still so hard to navigate through this life after loss when even the mailbox at my home, the one place that is supposed to be my sanctuary, continues to show me flashes of what my life is missing without my precious baby.

No matter how much time passes, life without Lucy will always be difficult, and I’ll always wonder what we’re missing. Having to journey through my life without her is agonizing enough on its own; something as simple as a trip to the mailbox shouldn’t be so potentially devastating too.


  • Jessica Orlaske

    Jessica Orlaske is the mother of beautiful little Lucy Rose, whom she was only able to spend a precious day with after suffering a placental abruption. Though the loss of Lucy has transformed her life into one of heartache and challenges, Jessica continues to search for Lucy’s light in all things and find ways to honor her sweet daughter with love and kindness. She has found healing through writing and sharing her story with others.

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