Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Why Bullying About Grief's [Lack of] Timeline is Unhelpful

our children

Today my daughter would have been one year and four months, if she'd lived.

The grief is starting to get uncomfortable now.

Well, not the grief, really.  People's reactions to the grief, to my feeling and expressing of it.  I'm feeling pressure to stop talking about it, about her.  To "get over it," to "move on."

They don't understand.  You don't just get over something like this.  Because no matter how much you express or repress your pain, it is always there.  It always rises up and knocks you down, no matter how much you think you've healed.

At least, that's how it feels to me.

And really, it's not all that many people who have said the words that knife deep into my heart, that urge me to forget my daughter.  But it's enough people, and it's people who are supposed to count for more, people who wear the name "family."

It's enough people that I wonder what other people are thinking, the ones who say nothing.  Enough that I wonder if people think I'm hanging onto this grief for the attention or the drama.  Enough that I feel afraid to wear my necklaces -- gifts from friends and family, I might add -- that boldly proclaim the fact that I have two children.

Here's the thing that I think the ones who cut with their words don't understand -- that I don't go looking for the grief.  I don't want to ache with the missing of her.

I don't seek out the pain.  It finds me, always.

Especially around this time of the month, every month.  Every month the anger that masks the pain rises, the irritability, the tears, and I feel like I'm going insane -- until I look at the calendar and realize that it's the eighteenth (the day we found out she died), the nineteenth (the day I was admitted for her induction), the twentieth (the day she was stillborn).

I never notice the calendar and think, "Oh, it's her days," and muster up the sadness.  The sadness always comes first.  My body remembers before my mind.

If I were to stop talking about my son, to stop being blessed and amazed by him, to stop rejoicing in his little miracle of a self, I would be criticized.  So how does it follow that I should never talk about my daughter, that I should never rejoice in the miracle of her short life?

I cannot leave her memory behind, and the pain of missing her will not leave me.  There is healing, there is restoration in God's hands, but silence and forgetting have no place in those things.

In case you don't know it, in case you've been told otherwise, let me remind you, my sweet friends -- grief is a symptom of love.  Grief is natural and normal.  Grief is healing.  Grief has no time limit.

Grief is necessary.

Let no one bully you into thinking anything else.

As for me, I will pray for courage and wear my necklaces and tell this story that I've been given.  It feels wrong to do anything else.

our children 
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  2. My daughter would be almost 18 months old. Every sixth of the month like you it's the same..

    It starts on the 2nd which is the day we found out she passed.. Then the 6th creeps up and I'm back to feeling like it was me that died... One 'good' day then the 8th comes (my mom died six months and 2 days after our daughter was stillborn) and bam i've hit the grief wall again.

    Last month I felt bad because I wasn't a weepy sad mess on the 6th. What a horrible mom I must be.. I wish I had magic words to cure everyone's heart ache but I don't.

    Family (or in my case) is the worst. They forget quickly. There is no mention of that 5th granddaughter - and 6th grandchild. In fact my sister in law had a son who died a few months after he was born and he's not mentioned either. So he was the first grandson!

    I feel the same way about worrying if I stop talking about my son who is here with me right now what people would think of me. Sigh hugs to you I read your blog often even when I'm down and out and my own blog is being ignored.

    I hope you can stop by my site and read stuff i've written.. xxoo

    1. I have no idea why it's posting to my blog i don't even use my address is

  3. Amen! I agree with every.single.word. Why is it that it's those that should be "close" to you who are the ones to treat us like this?

  4. Amen! Amen Amen! My daughter would be 6 years old in June. If she had lived

  5. This is so good! Yesterday, Sully would have been 30 months. 2 1/2! And, it was a Tuesday. The day he died. My heart knew long before my head why I was having such a sucky day. Most people, including family, never say his name. They just pretend he didn't exist and look exasperated when I bring him up. I can read their minds thinking " get over it already".

  6. Hugs Beth. Funny how family can hurt us the most. You are a wonderful mamma to both of your children.

  7. Don't ever let anyone tell you how and when and why and where to grieve. Your journey is your own.

    You are in my thoughts.

  8. I think there's a place for reproof and a place to comfort. I think if you didn't still feel the loss at time, it be abnormal. These are all experiences in life that shape us.

    Thanks for sharing and helping me understand what others might be going through and not to always judge.

  9. No timeline on grief- that's so true and so HARD. There's just no way to tidy up the pain, is there? So sorry for your loss. I've got a little one in Heaven who would be hopping on the bus and heading to kindergarten today if he were here. Praying God will be near to you as you journey.

  10. I've found that the people who respond with impatience or a seeming lack of tolerance of grief are the very ones who feel uncomfortable with it because they haven't dealt with their own grief and pain. They've bullied themselves to "feel better and move on". They seem to be unable to stay with their own pain and so cannot witness another person's with acceptance and love. My experience is that grief never leaves, it just seeks loving acceptance, expression and patience with it, and very slowly integrates into "Who I Am", becoming a part of what makes me Emma, alongside the joy, happiness, gratitude and love that makes up me and my life. My grief is held in the part of my heart that was broken, along with my cherished memories, and I've learned I need to hold that part of my heart tenderly and with love and respect for my grief, not a sweeping away of it, or hiding it. Em x

  11. wear her name
    bear her name
    no one else can tell you what to feel
    press on and in to Him

  12. Thank you so much for this. So often, those of us who have not experienced a loss such as yours have no idea what to say or not to say. You sharing this, your experience, every part of it, helps all of us know how to walk with the grief.
    I am so sorry for your loss and for its palpable reminder. I'm sorry that you will never be the same. But I'm also thankful for who you are today, because clearly you have important things to share and we all need to hear it.
    Grace and peace on your head, today, and always.

  13. Oh Beth, how you touch my heart so! My son was stillborn on May 2, 1975 at full term..a knot was in his cord. I wish you would take a look at my blog i started last Nov. I have been bullied and ignored and treated horribly by my husband's loving family and by my own loving family. What happens when a baby dies that brings out the worse in families? I had two rainbow sons. Then wham, 5 years after my first stillbirth,our only daughter dies at about 20 - 24 weeks with the cord contorted. I have longed for some baby jewelry such as you just pictured, but I never buy it b/c I KNOW I of the remarks that will be made. It has been 38 years this May, get over it! I am 62 years old, soon to be 63 and I can't stand it! Icreate specailly made balloons & release them (after pictures are made) for angel babies on their angelversary off the Outer Banks of NC where I live. I have a FB page for this, Fittsie's Angel Balloons. Since it is a Community page anyone can see it. I have time for this since I am a retired teacher. Family says I am going over-board. Sorry for ranting on. Your post just got to me! :) Gale

  14. I love this post, Beth...absolutely love every word...

  15. Thank you for sharing this Beth. I suspect writing it was in itself a reliving of the pain, not just of the grief you experienced from that inexplicable loss, but a grief of being misunderstood by those who you might expect or at least hoped could understand.

    I know grief is painful and necessary and in its own way beautiful, but it is such a powerful emotion that to be in the presence of another who grieves brings up such powerful emotions for some people that they are incapable of doing what I need - nothing. Just sit with me. Don't try to fix me, make me feel better or anything else that will push me prematurely out of the pain. Don't do those things because when you do it, you negate my experience and your reason for doing it is probably to relieve your own discomfort. Just sit with me, see me, witness me and do your imperfect best to understand me. That is enough.


"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King