Last night I was sitting on the couch, watching the Voice with Dave, my mother in law, and Addy- who refused to go to sleep. I had grabbed the iPad to check my email- because I forget to do it all the time- and was shocked to find the following email...
This studio did Ellie's newborn pictures a couple weeks after she was born in Feb 2010. We received a call from them around Christmas in 2010 reminding us to schedule her one year pictures. I went into the studio and talked to a manager. I told her Ellie had died, that phone calls like this were very painful, and please remove us from their database. The lady who was working, said she too had lost a child several years ago and understood. We hadn't heard from them until this.
They obviously got the message. They even added the word "deceased" to her file. But they didn't delete our information like I had asked. I know that the sending of this was unintentional and that no one meant any harm by it. It's just an automated system that sends out reminder emails. I get it.
What I don't get it, is how someone thought it was a good idea to add the word DECEASED next to (actually in place of...) Ellie's name in the database and just hope that someone would catch before it went out. Obviously last year someone caught it- because we didn't get a reminder email to schedule a birthday picture session for our dead daughter's birthday. But this year, it got through.
My first reaction last night was to call the studio and talk to a manager. So I did. He felt horrible. His voice shook as he tried to clarify my information. I cried. I asked him to please, please make sure this doesn't happen again. He said that before he left for the night he would be contacting his bosses, the VP of marketing and anyone else he could think of. I hope he did.
A few kind and protective people have contacted the parent company on our behalf, and I am grateful for that because I'm not really sure how to react. I know how I would have reacted a year ago. With flames shooting from my ears, I would have called as high up as I could go and let them have it. I would have put it all over their Facebook page and demanded them to right their wrong. But now, I'm not so sure how to react.
The anger I felt a year as definitely eased. The anxiety over losing Ellie and the constant fear of a trigger has lessened. I'm not really sure how to describe it and I think you can only really understand if you've been through the loss of a child. But the desperation, the complete and total devastation that I used to live in has faded. I don't feel like my grief owns me anymore. I feel like I'm (mostly) in charge of it. Certain things still hurt- a lot, and I still avoid certain places, people and things that I know will bring up those emotions. It hurts to admit it, but its getting easier. I don't like admitting that we are surviving without Ellie. But we are.
As too many of us know, accepting our grief comes with a new set of emotions... Guilt, for example. I could write a book on guilt. For me, dealing with the fear of anxiety and those triggers moments has been difficult. Those moments of desperation and extreme sadness are so infrequent now, that when I feel like one is coming, I shut down. I completely over react and my fight or flight response totally kicks in. I will do anything to avoid feeling that way again.
So when this email arrived in all it's insensitive and horrendous glory, it took me by surprise. I didn't have time to freak out before hand and no time to flee. I called the manager. And I thought I would leave it at that. However, lots of other people think that we should make a bigger deal of it than that. And a year ago, I would have agreed. I was so accustomed to the stress, anxiety, sadness, anger and frustration, that it was no big deal to take on another moron(s). But I'm not used to it anymore.
Last night when I called the manager, I was calm at first. But as soon as the words starting coming out of my mouth, I lost it. I sobbed. I could hardly get the words out. And afterward, I was really shook up. I could feel that my anxiety was up for the rest of the night and I can even still feel it this morning. I hate feeling like this. I'm torn, on one hand I think they really need to know what happened and make sure that it never happens again. But on the other hand, I just don't want to deal with it. Its a weird place to be in.
In the end, I just don't want to ever receive another email like that. Ellie won't ever celebrate her birthday, and nothing can change that. I just don't need a reminder of that- especially a week before Christmas....
Update: The director of Flash called us both, separately, today, on his day away from the office, to apologize for what happened. He felt awful and said that he was told of this last night and has been sick about it since. He said he knows an apology won't make it better or take away what happened, but that they were truly sorry and that our name has definitely been removed from their database so that it won't happen again. This man was very nice and I could tell that he was really upset by what happened. I really, really appreciate him contacting us and taking care of the issue. He also said they would like to make a donation to Ellie's Light, which is very nice. Like I said, we know mistakes happen and no one did this on purpose. But it did hurt and having them acknowledge that was really appreciated. Hopefully we won't have to deal with this ever again, and neither will another family.