Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I'm Sorry- taking away the right to grieve

I'm sorry.

I say this first because I know that I have done the following. I'm just as guilty as anyone. I have caused pain without thinking.

I can only admit it, ask for your forgiveness and go on.


I recently went to the funeral of a dear friend. She was there for me when my son was born, stayed with me at the hospital until my husband arrived, and even more importantly- was there when he left.

Her father had died. It was unexpected in that her Daddy was a fighter. He had never given up, even when left with roughly 15% of heart function. It was unexpected in that he had already been given a cancer free diagnosis two weeks earlier.

Someone said "Well, so it was expected..." when they heard of the recent struggles. I was discussing this later with another sweet lady whose family is battling their own fight. And I said "it really wasn't expected...". And she said "Does it matter?" And although I know that this wasn't actually what I was trying to say at this moment in time, I have said it. Did say it.... especially before I knew. And really whether it was expected or not doesn't matter. It isn't the main point at all.

Knowing means that you have had great loss. It is when people pull away or minimize your loss or take away the right for you to grieve. And it isn't just society as a whole, the child loss community and support groups do it to ourselves.

Society, and all of us to some degree, do this or have done it. We qualify things- "if you'd have had your child longer, it would be worse"... really? And did you love your child less at five than seventeen years? ". And maybe it is how we take away cards... if you have another child, or remarry, or make a decision after facing infertility (whether adoption or accepting your family as it is) you can't mourn anymore. Sometimes we even try to do it to ourselves.... but it doesn't work that way.

And we have all read the psychological babble that says with expected loss you experience anticipatory grief that may take away some of the shock of the death. I really don't know how true that is. And if you think about it, we don't allow anticipatory grief anymore. Like if you do not think positively until the moment of death, God or karma won't allow you your miracle healing. I wonder sometimes if parents of children with terminal illness or people facing cancer ever wish they could just lay it out; ask for people to just listen to them say how much they are facing rather than put on a mask that they think is expected. I know that parents that have lost a child to a long disease are often kicked out of support groups once their child dies, as if it is not an acceptable outcome and the family has or is doing something wrong. Do we have a cult of the pink ribbon in a similar fashion for cancer?

The reality of any great loss, is that when you are at the epicenter, circumstances matter little. What you feel is your reality and it isn't wrong and you aren't facing it wrong. Your world is gone, just shadows on the pavement. The emotional equivalent of Hiroshima. It might change things for a casual observer who is miles away- perhaps a more distant relative or friend, but it matters nothing to you. And down the road, even when your card has been taken away, the devastation hasn't gone magically away.

So I am sorry- for my own part I have played.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Perry's Pumpkin #2

Every year we plant pumpkin seeds descended from Perry's pumpkin. Unfortunately this year pumpkins did not do well and we were left with only one or two small pumpkins that were too small to carve. Emily picked out a pumpkin for her one for Paiden, but insisted that Perry already had a pumpkin and his should be the smallest (because in her logic Perry will now always be the youngest and the older you are, the larger your pumpkin). This was a bit of a bummer, but I had even bought a couple tiny ones for his hideout- so we didn't push. I think it really bothered Chris as Halloween neared.

A few days before Halloween I was driving to light a candle as we always do at Perry's hideout. Coming back I put on the breaks. There in front of Perry's church was a large orange object in the ditch. I picked it up, daring to hope and other than a small amount of road rash, it was remarkably intact for a pumpkin that had fallen out of a passing truck.

Chris says that he can imagine a truck filled with pumpkins rolling past and Perry picking one out for his own. It was, ironically, the biggest pumpkin of them all. Chris imagined that Perry would oddly be pleased at this.

Chris and Emily cleaned all three pumpkins. Chris saved the seeds and they will join the remainder from Perry's original pumpkin.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Little Things Terrify You

As a child loss Mom, little things terrify me now.

Last night we tried to place Paiden to sleep in his crib. He cried for quite sometime, so I took him out.

The frightening thing was that once I took him out, he breathed in big gasping breaths and arched his back. He wouldn't be comforted by being held or nursed (and my little guy is a voracious baby). He rolled and crawled in what appeared to be discomfort when I tried to calm him by laying next to him for a bit. I had a few terrifying minutes where I was trying to decide if the gasping breaths were from the previous crying spell or something worse. I have read so many parents write about babies dying in their arms, only arching their back for a moment first. My mind wondered over the possibilities- gas (not usual for Paiden)? A simple fit (not normal as he would almost always forget instantly if alliowed to nurse)? A cardiac arrythmia (how does a baby present anyway, they can't exactly clutch their chest and say their heart is racing)? He wouldn't open his eyes.

Chris tried to take him into the other room with the thought that I'd go to sleep, but I couldn't sleep. I eventually wandered into the spare bedroom.

About 30 minutes later he settled, he opened his eyes and gave me a big gummy smile.

My husband's theory is that the velcro on his diaper was somehow to blame, but in any case, I was incredibly thankful to wake up this morning and see the motion monitor blinking.

He woke up shortly after, which created its own set on new problems, but I can only say we were both happy to have our normal Paiden back.

November- again

I hate this week. I mean really hate it, wish I could curl up in bed and sleep it away.

I hate changing clocks. I hate Nov 6th. I hate the first Sunday in November. In some odd twist of fate the horrible time has conspired to spread beyond the bounds of 24 hours.

I think about the time immediately after. How in shock I was. On one level I understood what it all meant and on another I couldn't really comprehend. Right now I don't even really remember much of the funeral, although the wake I often remember too clearly. I remember speaking a little and Emily breaking down, sliding to the carpeted floor, but that's pretty much it. I couldn't comprehend this heavy weight that had settled across my back, or really hear the words. It is like a Charlie Brown scene from school- Brother Paul is speaking and noise is coming out, but the vowels and consonants do not form words.

At times I sit there on the wooden bench with the fog enveloping me, but not really feeling like it is actually me or that it is real. The box in front isn't what it is, and Perry is in the nursery waiting for me to come get him after it is over. So I can get in the Explorer and take everyone home, kick off my shoes, and watch Emily rolling on the ground with her brother.

They gave me a DVD of the service. Chris said that he watched it and seemed comforted. I wonder if this is something I should do or avoid. Will I feel better after actually hearing the words or curl up in a ball screaming/crying? Do I want to do this? If so by myself or with someone else? I know where it is- in a little gold box from the funeral home along with the sympathy cards, next to Perry's little bank and his blue fuzzy puppy dog.

Part of me does, another part fears that little white box that I will see sitting in front. Some days, you see, I am still in denial. Like if I really let all of my brain process it I will sink down into the blackness, so I shove it down and distract.

But as I contemplate whether Paiden will share the same bank, or if I should let him play with the stuffed animal, the box sits there larger than the actual space it occupies.