Sunday, October 16, 2011

Candlelight Ceremony

Yesterday, I spent a great part of the day getting the perfect photo taken, edited, uploaded, and tagged for all my BLM friends for International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I reached tagging limit easily and had to upload the same photo three times. I also listed all the names of the babies under each photo (of the women and men I tagged). This was very healing, very therapeutic for me, but also very time-consuming.
In other words, I have more BLM friends than I realized. This is a blessing, to be surrounded by people who "get it", but oh so sad. So sad that so many people have lost babies. And I only friend a fraction of them, because if I friended every BLM I "met" on FB, it would absolutely overwhelm me and I'm positive I would exceed the limit for friends very quickly.

When I was done, I was pretty much emotionally drained. I couldn't believe that it took so much out of me to just sit on the computer for a while and do this little "project" of mine to pay it forward. I expected to feel good and pumped to go to a remembrance ceremony at a local bereavement center afterward (as funny as that may sound), but I was just feeling "blah".
I knew I would be given a wonderful opportunity to honor my son's life and to meet up with some local BLMs who have become friends of mine, but I was just in a funk from the very moment I left the house.

On the road, I realized my heart was so very heavy. I met up with some BLM for dinner, which was great, but I just kept thinking how I never in my life EVER expected for THIS to be what planning a family led me to.

A life sentence of memorial services, of feeling desperate to get others outside of the community to acknowledge my perfect, gorgeous, fully-formed son while they so readily ooooh and ahhhh over my daughter. Some days I feel like the worst mother, because I get resentful of the compliments I get...I just want to say, "I have a son, and he was gorgeous too! I don't know what color his eyes were, but I bet they were every bit as spectacular as hers!" I wonder if he's jealous of the attention she gets. Other days, on rough days when I am mourning him or spending a lot of time with blogs or other things in the loss community, I wonder if my living daughter is jealous of the attention her brother gets.

Nothing I do is ever right, STILL, after all this time. Either that is parenthood for everybody, or I am just ridiculously hard on myself, but I don't know any other way to be. I am constantly being pulled away, pulled at the seams.
I want to be here, 100% here, for both of my living children. But I have one living child and one deceased child instead of two living children. And so I always feel 50% here for one of my children and 50% able to grieve the child I lost. I'm not 100% at anything ever, and the perfectionist in me can't stand it. God am I far from perfect. I am so freaking imperfect I can't stand it.
I feel myself giving up on trying to be perfect, because I can never be perfect and have a dead son at the same time.

I adore the people I have met in this community, and I am not quiet about it - some of these people are the most inspirational and loving souls I've ever met, and I feel priveleged to know them and their stories. The outpouring of support on my FB page from people in AND out of the loss community was very heart-warming yesterday.

The ceremony itself though was not what I expected. I don't know what I expected, but I know this wasn't it. Maybe ten months out is just too early for that kind of thing. I felt very exposed under harsh lighting and a smaller room than I expected to be in. I think it is still VERY difficult for me to publicly acknowledge my pain. And shame has crept up in fierce ways, probably because I keep reliving what I was doing last year at this time. Bedrest in hopes of keeping my babies safe. You have all heard me talk about that like a broken record, so I won't recount it again. I was such a fool, and I am ashamed.

I feel like an idiot for not being able to keep my son alive, for not KNOWING something was wrong when it was wrong, for having BACKWARDS intuition that told me over the course of the entire pregnancy that something was off but then the week he died feeling peace and thinking everything would work out in the end.

I expected to connect with others during the ceremony and feel uplifted and in tune. Instead, I felt awkward, hot, self-conscious, loathsome, and freakish.

I expected to leave the ceremony feeling empowered, inspired, enlightened.
Instead, I lit a candle for my son and just felt like I failed him so deeply. Failed him in the worst way. And lighting a candle seems so miniscule compared to a loss so massive. Nothing will ever fill the void. I felt stupid for presuming that something so simple could be healing. I mean what's the point?

I took my seat after lighting the candle and felt like a failed mother. They asked us to meditate or say a prayer and then extinguish the candle, and I thought "What's the point in praying?" and felt that in blowing out the candle I was killing his memory somehow. It was not exactly a comforting point in the ceremony for me.
I tried talking to a few other people, but they all were so composed compared to me, and I felt increasingly self-conscious and claustrophobic and like a freak even amongst "my own kind".

Perhaps I need to do more grieving in private before I can do something like this again. But I will go again next year, and the year after that, and the year after that, because even if it's in the smallest of ways, I do get to mother my son by honoring his memory. And I will take any chance I get to mother him, because those opportunities are few and far between.

The center that put this candlelighting ceremony on is non for profit, and I think what they do is amazing. Although I wasn't in the right space mentally and emotionally for it, I can see others benefit from it. I absolutely adore the candles they made for each baby remembered. I edited the photo of Elias's candle so I could post it here, but the actual candle has his full name on it and will make a perfect "presence" during holidays and special occasions.

It's Sunday, and I'm so tired. I don't know why I thought this weekend wouldn't be emotionally overwhelming and exhausting. I am ready for a few days off of work to recover, seriously. I'm just so down right now. I hate when I feel this way. I want to hold my head up high and show my son I'm a survivor, but right now I just feel like I failed at the most important thing I was ever called to do, and I can't stand the sight of myself.

I love you, Elias. Always and forever. Even though I do not feel worthy of you, and maybe, just maybe that's why you were taken from me, I will never ever blow the candle out that burns in my heart for you every single day. You are my son, today and all the days I have left on this earth and beyond. To the moon and back, baby boy. I love you.


  1. I attended a service last year year and felt the same way... i just was not ready for it at that time. This year was better in that sense but worse in the way that reality has set it so it was hard in that way. I too will keep going and trying.

  2. I lit my candles last night and stayed up till Braedon's went out. It was so hard to watch that glow start to lose its fire. It really felt like I was saying goodbye again in some strange way. It was hard but at the same time I felt like it was just a small thing I could do to let him know he is still on my mind and always will be.
    Thank you for thinking of all the babies that are missed. Your candle is beautiful.
    Thinking of your Elias.

  3. Just wanted to stop by and give you some virtual support. After one of my twin daughters died, it took me almost a year and a half to reach out to other people. It's been 4 years now and I just attended my first Oct. 15 event on Saturday. I don't really feel R at these prescribed times and events. But I do feel less lonely. And I do feel like I'm giving my surviving daughter an outlet for any confusion or sadness she has about her sister.

    You are so new to the 'after' and my heart just breaks for you and your family. I'm not one to give advice other than this--be patient with yourself and just accept what your feeling as your truth.

    Best to you. So sorry that your son isn't here with you, so happy that your daughter is.

  4. I felt the same way on Saturday during our venture out to "Walk to Remember". I kept wondering the entire time, "Why am I the only one crying here?" and " Where the hell is all the kleenex for Gods sakes!?" Everyone else was so composed and I felt like an idiot. Maybe their losses were so far in the past and next year when I go I will be a non-crying pro like them.

    Thinking of you and your family xoxox

  5. It took me over two years to be able to go to any sort of act of remembrance - and I still find them emotionally draining rather than uplifting.

    And parenting after a loss in very hard and very difficult to balance - I can only imagine that how much harder it must be when your lost child is a twin. I found parenting older children so hard without all the overwhelming emotions that accompany having a newborn too.

    I wish you gentle days ahead.

  6. I was traveling on Oct. 15. I didn't light a candle or do anything but post on the blog. I thought about Andrew all day (per usual), but nothing big.

    I agree on so many levels that it's just hard attempting to live a "perfect" life when there's no way perfection could ever be achieved while having a dead child, as we do. We'll never find absolute fulfillment in life and will always settle for less than the best. It will always be so. It's the glass half empty/half full debate always.

    Loving and thinking of Elias right along with you.

  7. I can totally relate to this... It was awkward and I dont think Ive yet recovered from it all. I think I have more difficulty seeing other peoples pain than I do dealing with my own. Reading all the names and then watching each tearful family go up and sit down with only a candle when they should be putting a baby on their lap or pulling a toddler behind them. Its truly sad and shouldnt be.

    Wish I had a more of an opportunity to talk to you. Would love to have you and the fa over for dinner soon ...


  8. not going what you have gone through personally just as an outsider I can say guilt of giving one child more attention than the other or vise versa is the same even with two children. Sometimes I feel guilty spending time with one more than don't feel's just a Mom thing.... :)Thanks for sharing!!