Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Unfortunately, It Wasn't a Rhetorical Question

For those of you wondering about my last post (where I asked "Is it EVER appropriate to tell someone who has lost a child to GET OVER IT"?), YES, this was said to me.  If you want to get technical, it wasn't said to my face but to others who let me know about it.  I just don't even know what to say anymore.  Honestly.  I feel myself pulling back, pulling away, avoding people, because I can not BELIEVE how judged I am.  Do people think I wanted this life?  Do people think I enjoy missing my son every day for the rest of my life?  God knows I never wanted this, that I prayed for my children every single day several times a day of my pregnancy.  This life is my worst nightmare, but it's the only one I have, so I have to figure it out, don't I?  I can't believe losing him wasn't enough, that I have to lose friends too, friends who won't take the time to talk to ME but judge me with no understanding of what I've been through.  Neither of these people have children of their own.  So they don't know what it's like to parent much less lose a child.  I look at how I live my life compared with how I expected things to turn out after losing my son, and I have to say I think I'm doing one hell of a job keeping my sh*t together.  I work a full time job, keep a very active social calendar, spend time with my parents and sister weekly, try new recipes about twice a week, blog every once in a while, and check in every now and then on a loss forum I help run on FB as co-administrator.  All while raising my daughter and missing my son simultaneously.  On FB I also make and post remembrance images for my close friends who have lost a child or children.  Yes, I go to counseling, but that is something I have needed to do long before my loss.  Of the two who have completely been judgy toward me, ONE is someone I trusted and shared a lot of my grief process with.  Which hurts, because I would never have opened my mouth had I known the judgment that was forming in her mind.  The other friend, I literally have NEVER ONCE talked to about my grief.  When he's around, I never mention my son, and he's never asked me ONCE how I am doing, so it never came up.  So how the hell does he get off telling multiple people I need to GET OVER IT already (apparently he started saying this when I was only six months out).  You'd think that I lit a candle anytime someone came to the house and demanded they say a prayer for my son or something.  That I live on the couch, dressed in all black, blasting Portishead and carving my son's name into my wrist with a butcher knife.  I mean seriously, what am I doing that screams "not dealing well"?!  If people are going to make this sort of judgment simply by my posting a few remembrance images on FB or because I have a shelf in my home displaying some gifts people have given us in honor of our son, then THEY are the ones who need to get their heads examined.  I did not just have a bad day.  I lost my child.  I will never get over him.  He will always be a part of our family.  Anyone who wants to judge me for simply loving and missing my child has absolutely no place in my life.  Anyone who thinks I am morbid for trying to help others through the difficult days by making and sharing a picture of a flower with a name and date on it to honor their baby is just cold and selfish.  It takes a few minutes of my time, and many of the women I've done this for have said it made their day, that they wanted to print it for their memory books, or even frame them in their homes.  Do people not understand that you have to be in a certain place yourself in your own healing to even be in a spot to try and help others?  I'm sorry to say that the losses of these friendships feel like betrayals far beyond any others I've ever experienced (as far as friendships go).  They just hurt so deep to my core.  I have been trying to stay strong and say "Good riddance", because that is the truth of it from a rational standpoint, but I have to be honest and just say that my heart hurts.  And I'm really starting to slip and struggle here, whereas before I WAS doing okay.  I look at other failed friendships and the drama leading up to their demise is so trivial and pales in comparison with this, so much that I'd be willing to mend any prior failed friendships, truly.  But this?  This I can't see any reconciliation for.  I see no context in which it could even be remotely appropriate for people to say such hurtful, insensitive, and disrespectful comments about me.  The anger, the anger comes from a place deeper than my own scars, too.  It feels like I'm taking on anger for the entire loss community, because I KNOW I'm not the only one who has been judged and lost friends after losing a child.  I'd always heard this happens, that it's inevitable, that you lose friends.  But until it happened to me, that shared anger for the community hadn't really set in.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Get Over It?

Is there ANY circumstance or context in which it is appropriate for someone to say, "I think she just needs to get over it already" when speaking of a mother who has lost her child?  Is there ANY way that could possibly be construed as someone who is caring but had their words come out "the wrong way"?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Right Where I Am: 1 year, 5 months, 24 days.

My friend and fellow BLM blogger Angie started an amazing project last year called “Right Where I Am”.   I participated and thought it was a really moving experience to be a part of something others might find beneficial in their grief: reading posts about where others were in their grieving processes.  A window into the future or into the past of what grief might have looked / will look at another point in time, as grief is constant yet ever-changing with ebbs and flows and different manifestations.  Sometimes as powerful as waves that knock you down and out of breath to the point where you think you might succumb forever.  Sometimes as gentle as a butterfly that flits by, reminding you of the baby that now holds a forever place in your heart instead of your arms. 
This year Angie has decided to run the project again, and I read her post on being three years out and felt so inspired (per usual!) by her words.  

Then, I went back and read my submission to her project from last year.

It was incredibly painful for me to go back and read, to be honest with you.  Partly because I can’t believe I ever felt so low.  Partly because some days, I still do feel that low, even a year later. 
Does that mean I’ve stagnated?  I don’t think so. 
You see, the Ugly Raw Grief only comes out to play every now and then.
So here is today’s post:  Right Where I am: 1 year, 5 months, 24 days.
The weather is getting warmer, sunnier, nicer all around.  Most of the time, this is a good thing – getting out of the house, taking my daughter to the playground, going for walks and staying active.  As I said, the Ugly Raw Grief stays at bay most of the time, because Life has simply gotten in the way.  Last summer, my daughter was just an infant.  This summer, she is a toddler, and there’s a lot more to do together.  Grass needs trampled on by bare toddler feet, sandboxes need played in by grubby little hands, and sprinklers need jumped over by exuberant children. 
The warm weather sometimes has its downsides.  Pushing my daughter, the empty swing next to her at the park seems to mock me, haunt me, remind me of my biggest loss ever, the loss of my daughter’s twin brother six days before they were scheduled for delivery.  I feel myself going back to that dark place, being pulled away.  Back to the grief, the self-pity which I’ve come to loathe, to the “Why me?” train of thought, “Why him?” “Why us? Why our family?”  I feel sorry for my daughter having to go through life without him here, and the tears fall so easily, for all of us. 
But then. 
Then, I say in my mind, “Hey buddy.  I love you and miss you so much and wish you were here to enjoy this day with your sister.”  And instead of being reduced to tears, mostly, usually, I consider those moments to be times that the universe is winking at me and simply reminding me to enjoy the present.  To enjoy the life we do have.  To live every breath to the fullest for my dear little boy who can’t be here to live his.  Slowly and steadily I have felt less sorry for myself and more capable of grieving his loss. 
I look at my daughter and see her smiling, playing, unaware.  She isn’t half of a person.  She isn’t half of something lost.  She isn’t broken.  She isn’t anything less with his not being here.  She is her own unique person, and I celebrate her more and more with each day, knowing that not only does she deserve it, but so do I, and my son wouldn’t want it any other way.

This is one of the greatest ways my son has changed my life for the better.  I make an effort to live in the moment and enjoy each one as it comes, to live fully, to embrace each experience.  I’ve grown as a person considerably over this past year, and in some ways even though I’m broken inside I also feel more whole than I’ve ever been, which is yet another paradox I can’t quite wrap my mind around. 

The biggest heartbreak of my life was losing my son just days before he was “scheduled” to come into this world.  I would do anything to have my son back, and that still includes giving my own life for his, but I obviously can’t.  So here I am.  I do what I can for others, and some of my pre-loss friends have judged me harshly for it, saying I need to “Get over it”.  They are no longer my friends anymore.  More accurately, they weren’t ever my friends.  They don’t understand that to ignore the gifts that have come from my son’s existence would be to dishonor him, and I’m not about to do that.  So instead of being ashamed of those gifts, I embrace them.  The increased sensitivity I have for others.  The compassion.  Being “let in” to others lives, stories, and losses.  People say, “I could never read stories about babies who died.  That’s too sad.  I would be so depressed talking to those kinds of people over and over.”  To me, what’s depressing is that society has labeled us as “those kinds of people” who simply deserve pity and nothing more.  What’s depressing is that people see us as defined by our losses and nothing more.  What’s depressing is that people want us to “get over it”, not realizing that it would be much more disturbing and alarming if somehow we were able to do that.  That if we pretended our children never existed, it’s the same thing as saying they never mattered, that we don’t love them, that they don’t deserve recognition, that their lives had no impact on the world.  To be present with others and to be let into their worlds, their stories, and their losses, is not something I take lightly.  It is truly a gift.  I try to help others in small ways, whenever I’m given the chance, and anytime I’m contacted by someone needing support, I feel my son is bettering the world around him.  His life may have been cut short, but I hope to see to it that he lives on through the changes he’s made in me to help others.

Where I am now is in a place of remembering my son without always breaking down.  Where I am is in a place of healing and renewal but also anger, I must admit.  Trying to figure out what to do with the anger I have toward our society for making the topic of baby loss so incredibly taboo that women feel they must deny their children ever lived, that they must keep everything mum, that they should feel like a freak for something happening to their child in this incredible age of medicine and technology, that they should feel they failed their child somehow, that their motherly instincts should have saved their child somehow, that they must have had negligent medical care, that they must have not been eating right or paying attention or their child would have lived.  I have felt the crippling effects of how our society deals with baby loss.  Society is backwards in a way I never realized before.  The stigma attached to child loss is something that needs to change.  The real heroes in this world are all the amazing people, many whom I’ve been privileged to be in contact with, who have been real advocates for women in the loss community, who have helped to give them a voice, who have given them places to share their stories and connect with one another, who have helped them to realize they don’t need to hide in the dark or feel alone.  At this point in my journey, these heroes and the avenues they’ve created for positive changes are what sustains me through my moments of anger toward society. 

I thank you, Angie, for being one of Our heroes.