Day 7: Wisdom

Wisdom: What advice do you have for friends and family wanting to help a loved one who has experienced the death of their pregnancy/baby/child?

Don’t leave them to grieve on their own. I know one of the common phrases when someone is going through a stressful time is to give them space, but if everyone is giving someone solace, they end up alone. And feeling alone & lonely is the last thing you need on top of grief. Admittedly it’s a fine line, I know when I’m grieving strongly, my emotional energy levels are low and socialising is tiring and hard work, but there are ways of ensuring someone doesn’t feel alone without overwhelming them. Just a quick text or email, with no expectation of a response (make that clear when you contact them), even a letter or card, or drop off some baking, a meal, send flowers, buy a plant in memory of their loss. Suggest going for a walk together, keep inviting them to events, but always make it clear you understand if they can’t make it. Ask them what kind of social events they can cope with, or like, or want. And ask again later….people’s needs, wants, coping strategies etc change over time, and not in a linear fashion. Ask what situations are hard. Don’t assume that cos they look like they’re coping they’re doing ok….struggle doesn’t have a look. Think about when and how you ask someone how they’re doing…..if I’ve turned up at someone’s place for a catch up & as part of the greetings they ask how I’m doing I’m likely to say I’m ok, or fine…..but if you wait til I’m settled in with a cuppa or whatever, feeling more comfortable, & the ask how I’m doing, or how I’m coping, I might be more open and actually talk about….it depends on the day and how I’m feeling, I might be out for distractions and not want to think about it, in which case I’ll brush over it, but I also might feel like talking or more connection, in which case I’ll probably be more honest. Take the decision making out of things, the cognitive impact of grief shouldn’t be underestimated. If someone is grieving it’s probably taking all their brain power and head space to get through each day……if you say “let me know when you want to catch up” & leave the ball in their court, they have to think about suggesting a catch up, deciding when they’re up for it, when and where etc….lots of decisions…..if instead you say ” how about a coffee on such n such a day” they just have to think about yes or no…..much easier when your brain is struggling.

Also while to you it might feel like ages ago, and the person experiencing loss might look like they’re “over it”, but it’s also possible they’re faking it, cos society has the, feeling like they should be over it, and for them it quite possibly feels like yesterday, so keep checking in. I know for me, that for at least until the due date of the pregnancy I just lost, I’m always aware of how pregnant I should have been…..I’d already imagine these months, and now I’m having to live them in a totally different way. Things like birthdays and Christmas’s are always going to be tricky…..good times to check in. Or even just acknowledge that you’re aware it might be tricky for them, it might not be, but at least then they know it’s ok if it is tough.

And from my understandings of humans, we all just want to be heard and know our experiences are valid.

Advertisements

Healing

Healing – What are your thoughts on healing, what does it look like for you?

Hmmm, healing feels like a big mountain I don’t know how to climb, no path to follow to know I’m making way through or at least in the right direction, and very uncertain about whether or not I have the fitness/ability/energy to make it up.

Rituals

Rituals – What are some things you do to remember your child/children?

We don’t really have any rituals as such, but we have bought these Christmas decorations to symbol our miscarriages. Each year bringing them out, and then putting them away hasn’t got any easier. I’m kinda wanting to ignore Christmas this year, but I’ll probably look out for a decoration in memory of our most recent loss to add to the collection. Maybe I will get a couple to remember our chemical pregnancies too….sometimes it feels like our CPs don’t count, but a therapist I was seeing did say they’re still losses & they’re valid, so maybe having something to remember them too will help.

Today

Today – where are you right now in your grief?

Stuck, is probably how I’d describe where I am in my grief right now, looking for cracks in it, that small moments of slightly better, or even nice moments, might make it through……such as having coffee & delicious cake with a lovely friend.

Essence

“Who are they to you? Do they have a name? What is the meaning of their name?”

We had little nicknames for our last 2 pregnancies, and I wish we had a nickname for our other ones too now, while we didn’t really share these names with others, we still refer to them with each other. We hadn’t ever allowed ourselves to choose names….we were keeping that fun for further into the pregnancies, though we talked through a few names we liked. And it was only the most recent loss that we even found out the sex, that one was a boy. Finding that out really changed things, made the loss more real and tangible and painful. I’ve seen some people talk about the loss of their baby inspiring them to live life fully etc, but from what I can tell, those people already have children or go on to have children – not saying that’s easier just different. For me, remembering my babies is remembering all my lost dreams and hopes.

I don’t have a strong spiritual or religious belief system, or even really a belief in what happens after death, so don’t really think of them in heaven or watching over me etc, but occasionally I’ll see a monarch butterfly and wonder if it’s one of them visiting.

Purpose

Hmm my purpose for giving this project a go, is to see if it’ll help me find away through this grief, I know it’s not just gonna disappear, & that I won’t return to who I was before fertility treatment, but if it can help to make carrying the grief a little lighter then that would be a start.

But when I think about the word purpose, I mostly think about how my life currently feels purposeless, like I’m a piece of flotsam bobbing around on the ocean. I constantly swing from feeling like healing/surviving requires too much energy (well, more than I’ve got), and wanting to create a F#@k Off plan B (which probably also accounts for the questioning/re-evaluating of my study/career plans that keeps happening). I haven’t really achieved the big dreams/goals I’ve had in the past, so I’m not overly hopeful that if I chose an IMPORTANT Plan B (that would show the world that I’m important, worthy, good enough….) that I’d achieve it….but having a dream/goal to work towards does give each day a sense of meaning which my life is currently lacking.

Sunrise

Well the sunrise here in New Zealand, wasn’t visible. But maybe the gloomy wet clouds is an apt reflection of my mood most of the time these days. In all honesty just getting out of bed is hard work most days, and sometimes it’s purely the promise of coffee that gets me up. So maybe this next photo is a more appropriate sunrise photo for me.

Yes, this was actually the coffee I drank this morning. I thought the floral arrangement was pretty sweet.

What Heals You

So I have decided to give CarlyMarie’s “Capture Your Grief” project a go this year. This project is run as part of Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month. I don’t often speak publically about our losses (besides here where I am relatively anonymous), but I have vague thoughts of sharing our story more openly, rather than carrying it around like a shameful secret. Maybe participating in this project will help me open up more, maybe it won’t, maybe it’ll help me feel like I’m healing a bit, maybe it won’t. Feel free to join me with this project 😊

Above is the list of prompts for this month, and you can read more about these and the project itself here. Whether I complete every day we’ll have to wait and see! While I plan to take a photo for each prompt each day, the writing and posting may happen in multiple days all at once. No fixed plans, we’ll just see how it pans out along the way.

Midnight Ramblings

Heart racing

Panic rising

Emotion swelling

Tears falling

Body crumbling

Curled into a ball

Wrapped up tight

Hiding from the world

Where I don’t belong.

————————-/ / —————————

Nearly midnight, & I couldn’t get to sleep, when a vague attempt at poetry came to me, hastily emailed it to myself in the hope that by getting it out of my brain, I’d get to sleep. It didn’t help the sleep, but here are some words.

Where are the words?

I keep wanting to write, but don’t know what to say…seems the feelings don’t change so much and I mostly feel like I’m just being negative all the time – & I know how tedious that can make reading! I even struggle to find the words to reply to your comments with I love reading & really appreciate.

Irony is I’d like to improve my writing, and maybe start writing for magazines or something (something thats not a university essay at least!)….but I don’t know what to write about (that would be good enough!).

I wanted to write a post for World Childlessness Week last week, but had a few too many feels, and didn’t think I could add anything to the conversation already happening. Currently feeling like I’m in some weird no mans land – not in Treatment world, because we don’t know if we’ll actually do any more treatment (and when each person in a couple is on a different page this is a really tricky, fragile uncertainty)….but because we haven’t reached a definitive agreement on doing no more treatment, I don’t feel like I fit in the childless world. When infertility leaves you feeling like you don’t fit in the world, feeling like you don’t fit in the infertility world too is not a great space to fit in. Humans always want to feel like they belong somewhere.

To start with it felt like the counsellor was of the belief that we shouldn’t keep trying and therefore kept asking me the hard questions, but I’ve since realised over more sessions that she takes turns asking both of us the tough questions. I suspect that we both ignore these questions in between sessions, hoping that either they’ll go away or that an answer will come to us without us having to face the question. I’m starting to feel that I’m probably gonna have to be brave and face these questions, and the fear of the future, in order to actually heal some and be able to live with what ever decision we make – but with how quickly panic starts to rise if I even slightly glance in the direction of those questions, I fear facing them head on will find me falling apart even more than I already have….and I don’t know how I’ll be able to keep going with everyday life, if I let that happen…..it’s like I need to find a large chunk of time with no commitments so that I’ll have time to put myself back together before I need to function again. And in the meantime til I find a chunk of time, I’ll just keep looking the other way and hoping the question will go away. Or maybe, I’m slowly putting myself back together after all our losses, in order to fall fully apart again….