The first day of school and the blue-red elephant

by Claudia Ravaldi

Today is the first day of school. Entrance to primary school is a day awaited and celebrated by families and institutions. This year children born in 2009 enter first grade.

This morning my facebook wall is literally full of photos of backpacks, aprons, folders, good wishes, messages from mothers surprised by how time passes quickly, from cradle to backpack. Among all these messages of celebration and excitement, dozens of messages of remembrance appeared on my wall.

Today, many children, Angelo, Laertes, Viola, Elisa, Mattia, to name just a few, should have gone to primary school .

Maybe they would choose superplane backpacks, maybe they would argue for hours about which shirt to wear under the apron.

Perhaps they would have been excited and taciturn, or boisterous and carefree. Who knows. Nobody can know. We can only try to imagine . And that’s all a parent affected by the loss of their child can do. Inevitably.

This “post-dated” piece of perinatal bereavement is so frightening that it is commonly disowned by society, which tries as it can to sweep it under the rug. Pretending it’s not there. Trying to call it complicated grief, or sickness.

Trying to persuade parents to seek a cure (?) To no longer have to do certain thoughts and certain speeches.

That if you don’t think about it you’re better off, they say.

Well. The time has come to come out. To tell everyone what we bereaved parents tell each other in groups, and in forums, and in books, and in movies. We are ready to tell you. We trust in your clemency.

There is a pink-blue elephant hidden under the carpet of thousands of our living rooms.

In these living rooms young and old mothers, with many or few or no children to look after, with or without husbands and companions, with excellent jobs or unemployed, believers or non-believers, smiling or worried, alone or full of friends, live their lives “without”.

They experience them, sometimes in a really excellent way. To the point that if you weren’t there in those days, you don’t know that a pink-blue elephant lives under the carpet in their living room. You don’t see the elephant at all. Because the elephant is seen only by those who have loved and lost . By those who love those who have loved and lost, not by anyone. At the limit, anyone can hear the story of the elephant that occupies the living rooms. But he can’t see it, he can only know it’s there.

Some women, taken by the desire to evict the elephant, because society is asking for it, have used mental, physical and economic energies in an attempt to get him out of their lives.

It takes positive energy to get over a bereavement ,” say those who don’t know.

We must let go ” say those who just see the reflection of the elephant gives them an anguish that you relieve.

Don’t think about it! Do it for the other children / your husband / your grandmother ” say most.

Thanks, dear.

We don’t actively think about it. We’re not crazy. We are not even sick of complicated grief.

We have more or less rich and satisfying lives (I will tell you, sometimes much more satisfying than the average, because we have learned the hard way that life must be lived to the full, as long as you can).


Yet people’s lives are marked by events , private and public. Births, deaths, illnesses, job promotions, graduations, weddings, births, Easter, Mother’s Day, first days of school.

There are days when all of life is condensed into a small detail.

Being able to socially share an event, be part of what happens to thousands of people at the same time, or not.

For moms and dads affected by perinatal bereavement in 2009, today is a bittersweet day.

It is the day when the elephant, which perhaps for months has been in the corner under the desk where practically no one sits, and with whom we have started a peaceful coexistence, suddenly lies down on his stomach in the middle of the room. In front of the front door.

You can’t miss it, at the cost of falling on it.

You can’t ignore it, because today the elephant has decided to blow full barrel with its astonishing standard trunk.

That’s not how it works, get rid of the elephant and hello !, for us parents affected by perinatal bereavement.

Or at least for many of us.

Being able to tell yourself, and then tell others is a step that is far from obvious.

Hi, I’m Rossella and this morning my pink-blue elephant planted itself again in the middle of the living room. A bit of a hassle, because tonight I have the hairdresser and the kindergarten meeting of the child. “

On the other hand, we must understand them, the rosazzurri elephants.

They leave us free to look at life with confidence and serenity most of the time, after trying to suffocate ourselves for the first couple of years every other day as well.

In return, they take two or three key days each year .

These are their days. This is what happens to all people affected by mourning, who, once the storm of the first years is over, transform the desperation of absence into nostalgia and sweetness.

Dear my personal pink-blue elephant: yes, I like you a little bit, I have known you for nine and a half years now, and I must say that compared to the first years, you are also a lot more discreet, and in great physical shape.

Now, however, go back under the desk, which encumbers my life a little too much.

To my friends moms of 2009.

To my friends moms from 2004.

To those who have the courage to sit on our sofas and spend a good time with us, even if our houses live under the carpet, sometimes in the middle of the room, sometimes under the desks.

Happy first day of the rest of our life, with our children in our hearts.

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