Friday, January 2, 2009

You Look Fine so You Must Be Fine

I wonder if you've seen the new online Exhale magazine yet? It is fabulous. Particularly this post, Meditations on Life After Loss. I bookmarked it the day the magazine was issued. I think I have returned to it daily. Listen. This is how I feel.
After our loss, we exist in that murky place, somewhere between the mirage of our past and our equally uncertain future. Yet the most horrific alteration is to our sense of self. Circumstance has reduced us to a pile of worn emotions and old perspectives, and then challenged us to live again. To re-create our hopes, dreams and future possibilities while balancing each new idea against the notion that our child died. Who can I possibly become now that my world is meaningless?
And there's more. Cara Tyrrell has succinctly laid out the tasks that I seem to be waking up to every morning.
For every stolen perspective, my worldly assignment appears:

  • Figure out how you will navigate the world through your new lenses – but live in it while you do.
  • Create appropriate memorials to the child you have lost- but do not obsess.
  • Talk about them just enough - but not too much.
  • Take all the time you need – but expect that others will pressure you to move on before you are ready.
  • Be prepared for some of your long-term friendships to fall apart - it is inevitable.
  • Decide how you are going to navigate this death for future children, or the ones you already have.
  • Oh yes - and don’t forget, figure out who you used to be before all this madness versus who you are becoming in the wake of your tragedy.
I think I've talked about this before, but some of my friends have plainly and honestly come up to me and asked, "how do you want me to be?" As in, does it help to talk? To not talk? To focus and remember? To be distracted? "What, my dear friend," some people have asked, "do you want from us?"

And I don't have an answer. Or at least one that doesn't vascillate from moment to moment. Thankfully, gwendomomma has suggestions. Real advice on what to do and not to when someone's child has died. Bookmark this. Read this. Share this.

At times I am thankful for distraction. But other times I am wholeheartedly angered at the avoidance, of the pretend that something life-changing and monumental hasn't just occurred to us. That our lives will ever be the same. No, I don't want to be "that girl," but I also want a little bit of leeway if I can't answer your questions about my job (what was it that I did? I don't remember nor do I care) or can't focus if you ask me about things that I could really give a fuck about right now (my freelance writing, my career ambitions).

I want some god dammed recognition and understanding that we are dealing with something pretty fucking huge right now and I could give a fuck about making small talk with you. So, you might need to just give me a minute. Or two.

From what I can assess, it feels that distraction and other conversations are most welcome from people who have traveled through the grieving with us, who have held our hands and wiped our tears and are now trying to walk with us, holding us as we go.

What is NOT welcome is the "you look fine so you must be fine so let's just talk about anything but your babies, your loss, in fact, let's just not mention it or validate it at all. You look fine so you must be fine so there's really no need for you to hear an "I'm sorry.." or a "I am grieving with you" from me."

You're wrong. I need it. I need to hear it. I need to know that Jov.ita and Iso.bel matter. I need to know that while you may not understand the pain that we are feeling (although, I am so sorry that so many of you do) that there is a recognition that it exists.

Yes, we look fine. But we aren't.


gwendomama said...

You don't have to pretend anything. You are not fine and you will be okay again someday but never the same person. Don't even try.

I am here for you any time at all. I promise. I will not let you walk this lonely road alone if you want my hand.

Anonymous said...

g, i'm sorry about the work emails. really sorry. :( L.

m said...

Dear, dear L - I am not in any way referring to the work emails that I willingly checked. Totally not!!! YOU are among those that has been walking with us. So many people have been. Countless, really. In fact, my rant is pretty focused on one or 2 occurrences compared to the ocean of love we have seen from others. Point is, I love you. See my email. xoxo.

annacyclopedia said...

I am listening, m. And learning from you, too. Thank you for sharing that list from Gwendomama - very useful for supporting those who have gone through all kinds of loss.

You are in my thoughts and prayers often.

Anonymous said...

Your headline is also appropriate for those in the battle of infertility - lack of validation, recognition,etc. The closest I have ever come is a chemical pregnancy, so I cannot imagine your pain, but I will acknowledge it and all the other emotions you feel. Your girls did matter and they were loved.

Drowned Girl said...

I have just found out what happened and I am so, so, so sorry.

Cara said...

Hey - Cara here. I finally saw this post and just want to tell you how nice it feels to know that my words resonate with others. Our feelings are so real while our forced smiles mask the reality.

Thanks for connecting. I am so very sorry for the loss of your two precious babies. Please, email whenever you need.