Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day: Remembering Matthew

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day: Remembering Matthew

I remember it like it was yesterday even though it was 18 years ago, and I know deep down I will never forget that day the rest of my life.

The two extremes that happened that day are still at odds with me. I had some fun plans on this particular day. I was playing hooky from work and meeting up with an old high school buddy named John to go skiing in Big Bear for the day. I woke up very early, trying not to wake up any one, I got ready and kissed both my wife Loretta and infant son Matthew on the cheek, whispering my goodbyes. We were so blessed with this beautiful baby boy. John and I had been good friends but had not been with each other in a while; we were both looking forward to our fun together. As I recall I had one of the best days I can remember, we laughed so hard all day and skied hard as well. On the ride home we were so tired we barley spoke, but we both had big smiles on our faces.

As we pulled up to my house there was a police cruiser in my driveway. I asked the reason and was not given much feedback, which was weird to me. I walked into my house and my brother-in-law and business partner Neil was there by himself. His strained face uttered some words about Mathew being found not breathing and he was at the hospital right now. (This was pre-cell phones so nobody could contact me and Neil got the tough duty to wait until I got home to tell me. Loretta was at the hospital with Matthew) I was in a fog, I rushed to the hospital which is minutes from my home and crashed through the emergency doors like a linebacker, shouting and looking for Loretta. A nurse came out of no where and asked if I was Mr. Ricciardi, I said yes, the look on her face spoke volumes, I look back now and it was right then and there that I knew Matthew had died. In the moment, still not wanting to believe it I was brought into a small waiting room where I found Loretta and her parents and some other family members all in tears. The pain and shock and grief washed over me like a tidal wave, I rushed to Loretta and hugged her and began sobbing. Still nobody had uttered the words to me yet, they did not have to, I knew with out having to hear it that my beautiful baby boy Matthew was dead.

Later, we found out that Mathew had died of SIDS, he was only four months old. Our world crashed in around us and our lives would never be the same again.

18 years later I have come to the tough conclusion about a journey like this. You never get over it, ever. You get through it, you manage it, you do live on and hopefully have further blessing in your life but you never get over it. The early days and weeks of walking by his room in silence were so painful, like a hot knife penetrating your heart, I still do not know how I managed it, I wanted to die. The stuffed animals, the pictures, all of it a memory so precious now, that was so painful back then. Grief is an individual journey, even though Loretta and I grieved together and did our best to support each other, I had my journey and she had hers.

where is all the time that heals? Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day - O'Connor BlogThere is no set timetable, no putting a ribbon around this stage to move onto the next. You are in a world where nothing makes sense and every emotion known to you and not known to you is converging almost all at the same time on top of you. We cried, we cursed, we cursed God and we asked why. We were angry, exhausted, scared and in disbelieve. With the help of faith, family, friends, time and some hard grief work on our end we managed to be lifted from this nightmare and began to live our lives again. Out of it all, our biggest fear is that he would be forgotten, that nobody would utter his name to us again. I could be blessed with a 100 children, but not one of them would replace Matthew.

So it is days like today, October 15th – Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, that help people like me. A day for friends and family to utter their name, to remember the brief life lived among us. Trust me, the parents that have lost an infant, a child or had a miscarriage do not need a special day to remember, they never forget. But it helps everyone else remember the tough journey someone has been on. A chance for a friend or family member to utter the child’s name, so the child will never be forgotten.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day - O'Connor Mortuary Blog

So we celebrate, yes celebrate his life now, and his younger siblings know him and speak of him as their older brother, even though they never met him. Loretta and I have been blessed with four wonderful children, Matthew, Faith, Christian and Cameron. One of them waiting for us, to one day be reunited.  I feel so blessed today, my heart is full and I cannot help but have a smile on my face when I think of Matthew.  Everyday is a gift and a chance to better a relationship or repair a broken one. I have gratitude for all I have, where before there was only a sense of entitlement.

How can an infant child teach me so much about life?

Molly Keating
Molly Keating
Hello! I'm Molly and I run & manage the Blog here at O'Connor. I grew up in a mortuary with a mortician for a father who's deep respect for the profession inspired me to give working at a mortuary a try. Work at O'Connor has brought together two of my deep passions, writing & grief awareness. In 2016 I earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. I am honored to be able to speak on these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective. I want to sincerely thank you for following & reading the blog, I hope that this is a healing place for you.

34 Comments

  1. Sue Watson says:

    I cried as I read this article, I felt your pain. I have 9 children, one of whom is waiting for me in Heaven as well. A baby girl, Jada,the 8th of my 9. Her picture is in the living room with all her brothers and sisters. She was born and died July 12, 1998.

    • Chuck says:

      Sue,
      Wow, 9 children, God bless you, you must be a mother saint. But I can tell in your response, as I mentioned in my blog, it does not matter how many children you have, Jada will always be missed and can never be replaced. Jada is such a beautiful name, I’m sure you find it hard to believe that she would be 15 years old this year. Where does the time go? How you handled your grieve while trying to be a mother to 7 other children is beyond me Sue. You obviously have the strength of a warrior, I know you certainly did not feel that way early on after her death. Thank you for sharing and may God bless your on your continued journey. I have a strange feeling Matthew and Jada are smiling down on us right now!

      Love,
      Chuck

  2. Jenn says:

    Samantha,
    I wasn’t sure what the words were I was trying to say, but you said them perfect with that quote!

  3. Greg Forster says:

    Chuck,

    It takes so much courage for a person, a father, A DAD, to voluntarily revisit the source and time of his great pain. I am profoundly affected by your effort in doing so. I can only imagine how exhausted and emotionally drained you must have felt after this article was finally finished and sent on its way. I feel gratitude for you that you and your wife have had the courage, the guts if you will, to move forward through this, to not allow this event to imprison you in bitterness and negativity forever. For the two of you to finally accept what has occurred, to rise above circumstance and not allow it to define you, but allow you as a couple, and the family that you continued to create, to move forward to grow is exceptional and defines for all of us the true meaning of the word HOPE.

    Thank you very much,

    Greg

    • Chuck says:

      Greg,
      You know when i first sat down to write about this I had no idea where to go with it. So I allowed some quiet time of reflection and connection and then it began to flow. During the actual writing of it I was not real emotional believe it or not, again it just sort of flowed. Stepping back and reading it more than once after it was concluded and before sending it off as an official blog is when it started to hit me. I cried, it was not a blubbering, sobbing experience like the days, weeks and months after he died but a combination of a little pain (still after all these years) but mostly tears of joy of how far I/we have come and how relevant Matthew’s life still is to me/us. As I reply to everyone it continues to be a positive, emotional and healing moment for me. Thank you for allowing me to feel that way.

      Love,
      Chuck

  4. Jenn says:

    Chuck,

    Thank you for sharing this story, as hard as it may have been to write, it is important that we celebrate Matthew and say his name on days like this. In my schooling and experience here I have learned the importance of not dancing around the fact that someone is gone, as you said, people just don’t talk about it because they think it is more comfortable to act like it never happened, but the truth is quite the opposite. I think this story alone is a celebration of Matthew’s life and thank you for sharing it with us.

    • Chuck says:

      Jenn,
      We all know it is difficult to be around grieving people. But the worst thing we can do is ignore the facts. We have to embrace them as painful as that may be. Talking about the death of someone or saying the name of a departed loved one to the grieving person will not all of a sudden remind that person that someone they loved died, they are never going to forget. But it will allow that person to be comfortable with you and talk about it if they want or just be with your energy in that moment. It actually brings a smile to my face now every time I hear his name.
      Love,
      Chuck

  5. Erin Fodor says:

    Thank you for sharing the unimaginable journey you and your family have been on. I am deeply saddened to hear of your loss. My prayers are with you and your family. I know with experiencing a loss, that each day the pain gets a little less. But that someone is never forgotten. I too look forward to the day when we will be reunited. But at least we have the comfort of our faith that our love ones are in a safe place, and we will again see those lovely smiles that we have been missing so dear. Thanks again Chuck for being so open and candid with us. You are an inspiration!

    • Chuck says:

      Erin,
      Thank you, I appreciate your warm words. As you know I’m not the only one on earth to ever grieve the loss of a child or loved one. I know your father’s death at a young age has impacted you in huge ways and still does. I know he lives on in you because you will never forget him, same with Matthew. I certainly can take solace now that he is in a glorious place awaiting his family’s return home. I cannot wait to see that big baby boy smile of his again.

      Love,
      Chuck

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