It seems that in the grief community, there are a lot of expressions going around about there "not being one right way" of grieving. That you have to do "what's best for you at that time" without worry about others' feelings. Because, well, losing a child kills a piece of you, if it doesn't kill you completely, and some would argue that the YOU is actually gone at the point of child loss. And a new you emerges. So any way you slice it, well, the grieving are in "survival mode". So not much room for concern over whether others understand it or not.
I for one still am all about spreading awareness. And so I do continue to share things on Facebook, such as in October for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I participated in Carly Marie's capture your grief project. It was incredible and inspiring. I received so much feedback from people that I never expected. People shared with me their own losses. Babies they miscarried. Siblings that had died before delivery. Siblings that had died during infancy that hadn't been previously mentioned. Infertility woes.
Cards were sent in the mail, letters written, ornaments purchased in Elias's memory and given to me with little notes about how my words "inspired" and "helped" others.
I welcomed all of this sharing with open arms and felt so much comfort that my participation in the project helped others to find their own voices and sense of community.
Family members who had never said anything to me about Elias suddenly opened up and told me that they felt horrible about our loss, that they were truly sorry, that they were inspired by my words. A cousin whose brother was stillborn really opened up to me about growing up knowing he had lost his brother and his feelings about that. He told me his mother never openly grieved this loss, that it still impacted her forty years later, that in those days they shuffled the baby out of the room without a word. He said he really admired my strength in being vulnerable enough to share. This is a cousin I've rarely spoken to, and yet because of this Facebook project, we had a really meaningful conversation, opening a dialogue about a topic so vital to me.
Then came the phone call to my husband. The one where someone who will remain nameless said that due to my Facebook posts in October, they were concerned with my mental health.
This person is not even ON Facebook. So they heard this through someone else obviously. This someone else didn't even understand the concept of Carly Marie's project or grief work or its purpose. So basically this person just thought I was suddenly spiraling out of control and felt compelled to call someone who then called my husband. They saw my daily posts and somehow interpreted them as evidence of madness, of insanity, of self-indulgent pity-seeking crazy catlady grief.
And I swear, it takes fifteen positive comments to make up for one negative one.
The scales just don't seem balanced.
Why do relationships have to be strained on account of my losing my son? My losing my son is not a reflection of ME. It's not my identity. But losing him IS PART of me, just as each of my children are a PART of me. And Elias's legacy through me is to help others who have suffered loss whenever I can.
Participating in Carly Marie's project was magical. It was beautiful, "healing", and inspiring.
I felt I reconnected with my grief in such a healthy way. (I say "reconnected" because I totally "disconnected" during my rainbow pregnancy. I couldn't handle grieving AND carrying a subsequent child...) So for me, it was HEALTHY to do a daily post as a part of this greater whole, this moving project that promoted awareness, sharing, and grieving in a constructive manner. It helped me feel less isolated and re-established my place in this incredible global group of people who have been dealt a horrible hand yet have made the most of it through art, writing, photography, and community.
But I guess that's "mentally unstable".
Just lock me in a padded room and toss the key.
It's been a few months since this phone call was made. But it still bothers me when I think about it. I really resent that my husband had to explain this project to this person, to JUSTIFY my behavior to them, to say ANYTHING to them about WHY I do what I do.
It's not something that he should have had to do. It's not something he should have FELT like he had to do.
And yet, if he hadn't gone to bat for me and explained it all, I would have been angry about that, too.
It's just a no win situation. I feel like no matter what I do, it's wrong.
I guess this just proves that Carly Marie's project NEEDS TO EXIST that much more - because there is SO MUCH MISINFORMATION in our society about grief and especially stillbirth / infant loss.
I know some might read this post (if anyone still reads, which I don't blame them if they don't because I rarely blog) and think, "Yup, that's why I don't have a Facebook!"
Take from this what you will. I stand by my decision to be on Facebook 100%. I feel I have maintained some very strong and amazing connections with women (and a few men) from the loss community, some who have "moved on" from blogging yet have remained on Facebook. It's a place where we can maintain connections and share about all aspects of our lives, not just our losses. It's a place where I can share ALL of my children and different aspects of my life and identity.
And yes, during October, you can expect several posts, if not daily posts, about pregnancy and infant loss.
I stand by that as well.
I have deleted over 300 people this past year though and apparently need to do more "friendscaping", because there are some really ignorant people out there.
Then again, maybe those are the very people who NEED to read the posts I share.
I keep on keepin' on. In the name of Elias. In the name of awareness.
And for the sake of being authentically myself, unapologetically.