I thought once I made it past the one year anniversaries, remembering Eleanor would be less painful. January was bumpy as we: shakily survived the holidays; welcomed a new year without our daughter; memorialized her first birthday on the 8th; remembered her death day on the 14th; and re-read all the speeches given during her January 23rd memorial service. Not to mention a mental breakdown resulting in me seeking extra grief counseling this month, a meeting with the local Compassionate Friends, and the inception of this blog. All of that is a recipe for an emotional whirlwind! WHEW!
Once February began, I thought I could start to heal a little. But as I was gathering all of our tax information it hit me...I had two children to 'claim' in 2010. Dreading the thought of talking to my accountant about this, I decided to read about dependents in the taxation world to prepare myself. According to the Cornell University Law School web site, Internal Revenue Code 26 U.S.C. § 152 defines a dependent as:
(c) Qualifying child
For purposes of this section—
(1) In general
The term “qualifying child” means, with respect to any taxpayer for any taxable year, an individual—
(A) who bears a relationship to the taxpayer described in paragraph (2),
(B) who has the same principal place of abode as the taxpayer for more than one-half of such taxable year,
(C) who meets the age requirements of paragraph (3),
(D) who has not provided over one-half of such individual’s own support for the calendar year in which the taxable year of the taxpayer begins, and
(E) who has not filed a joint return (other than only for a claim of refund) with the individual’s spouse under section 6013 for the taxable year beginning in the calendar year in which the taxable year of the taxpayer begins.
Notice B? Was my daughter not legally a dependent because she only lived six days? She never physically came home with us.
I'm sure my accountant knows what to do and will handle this with sensitivity. But I feel like I've been punched in the gut. When people ask how many children I have, I never hesitate to answer two. If they ask further I give them the abridged version, "My son is 2.5 and my daughter passed last year". I let them decide if they want to ask more questions, but I am never afraid to talk about Eleanor and actually love mentioning her name. (I know not every bereaved parent feels the same way.) I do have two children and it is very simple to define. But does the federal government see it that way?
Let me clarify something in case anyone wonders. This isn't about the money. I could care less if we get a deduction or refund. This is about validation. Eleanor was here. Alive. Six minutes, six hours, six days, it doesn't matter. She WAS. I spend most days hiding my pain. I listen to insensitive comments about "getting over" her death. My heart soars when caring friends mention her name or let me ramble on about her. And it breaks again when some family members ignore her existence. I need people to acknowledge Eleanor (and many, many do).
There is another realization with all of this. Next year, I will only have one child to 'claim' again.