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12 Stages of Mom Cold Grief

I marked the week in my planner: Spring Break! My husband had vacation days, so we planned to go down to San Diego for much of the week. Sand, surf, zoo. "I'm such a good mom for planning this fun and possibly educational trip," I thought to myself in secret. Our first family trip of the year.

It never happened.

We all got sick. It started that first weekend with a toddler's mild sniffle. Soon I had a heaviness in my head and a tickle in my throat. Next, my husband was coughing. We were hit by a viral bronchitis, and it wasn't fun. It was distressing.

I grieved the loss of our family trip, perhaps even in a clinical way. Despite the virus-induced haze, I remember moving through a dozen distinct stages of grief:

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1. Denial

No way we're sick. No, no no. We probably just caught a chill at the park. There was a breeze after all. We'll be better in a few hours.

2. Horror

The toddler's temperature spiked to 103. We're up most of the night. This is really happening. Wait, I feel awful too. At least I can rely on my husband. Wait, he's sick too? We're all sick? Commence internal screaming.

3. The Late Night Supply Run

Under cover of night, you go to Target to buy more fever medicine, a humidifier and plenty of tissues.

At least we're together. That's something. Right?

4. Worry

My poor baby! She's obviously uncomfortable and the medicine only does so much. I'm giving her lots of hugs and staying up with her. I'm taking "daytime medicine" at night so that I don't sleep too heavily. As the fever lingers, we all make a trip to our family doctor.

5. Sadness

All plans must be canceled. For me, that meant Spring Break! was spent shuffling around the house, trying to keep a toddler happy, wiping nose(s) and coaxing everyone to stay hydrated.

6. Irate Toddler Phase

The toddler has shifted from her sleepy-sick phase to the angry phase. She's had it with this runny nose and needs everyone to know.

7. Indignant Mom Phase

How/why am I STILL supposed to take care of everyone when I'm sick too? I wish moms could take a sick day.

8. Desperation

Is there anywhere we can go with a sick child but not risk exposing others to the same fate? Nope. Quarantine continues. Actually, on our way to the doctor I gaze out from the car to see people walking down the sidewalk or eating outside cafes. I think I remember what that was like...

9. Optimism

At least we're together. That's something. Right?

10. Nostalgia

Remember how we used to get sick before we had kids? We could just plop down on the couch with some orange juice and watch Netflix. Back when we didn't have to take care of someone else while being sick? We had it so good back then.

I still need tissues, but significantly fewer than before.

11. On the Mend

We are finally starting to feel better, huzzah! I still need tissues, but significantly fewer than before.

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12. All Better

It's a new week and my husband's back at work. Our sick week is soon becoming a distant memory. Even though we missed our family vacation, feeling healthy again is worth celebrating, and something I won't take for granted anymore.

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Image via Twenty20/benewhiteside

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