It is interesting to see how my posts become less frequent as time goes on. I wish I could say that it's because my grief gets easier with time, but I can't do that yet. For me, grief becomes different, it changes in taste and colour. All sorts of things, places, and people leave different impressions on my heart and mind, altering the way I see, feel, and deal with my loss.
I admit to turning a 360 and shutting out the world lately. Right from the beginning of my grief journey I was very open, hoping to help others see and understand what a bereaved parent goes through, at least my version of it. I wanted to find some good in my pain. Slowly, I started keeping more and more inside. I can't put a date on when it happened, it was a continuous process, but I can tell you why: Some People. The reason is that simple: random individuals.
If you were to ask me right after Amelia died what was the hardest thing about losing her, I'd say it was giving birth to my dead daughter, my perfect little angel, so wanted, so loved. If you ask me now, I'd say people. Please don't get me wrong, there are more good apples in the basket than the rotten ones, but the rotten ones really do stink out the whole orchard.
This post is dedicated to the bad apples.
How can people, from complete strangers to those close to me, hurt more than labouring with knowledge that my newborn has no heartbeat? Sadly, there are many ways. Mostly those are stupid words people choose. I've heard all sorts of things, from "You weren't ready yet," to "You are young, you'll have another one," to "how long are you going to wallow in your grief?" There are also actions: there is nothing worse than a cranky toddler screaming into my head at 8:30pm in an otherwise empty restaurant, because his parents decided that it was ok to sit right behind us instead of choosing ANY OTHER table in the medium-sized place. There also unintentional moments when a new mom would park her stroller right in front of us in the mall, she obviously never lost a child, otherwise she would have recognised the look of complete terror in my face. Hopefully when I have a living child I'll be more mindful of others. So the list goes on. This is not pointing fingers at anyone, I have no "beef" so to speak. It is just a sad reality that I'm facing.
Going back to the words people say, I'm so tired of hearing how I wasn't ready to have my daughter and that when I am, I'll get a living baby to hold and to love. Really??? I was 27 when we conceived Amelia, perfect age: not too young, not too old; have been happily married for a few years now, we own a home, we both have careers and are educated, we are healthy and at a point in life where there is nothing else we'd rather do but raise our daughter. I am more ready than Casey Anthony was, I'm more ready than that mom who dressed her toddler as a prostitute. Yet people who don't know me at all have the guts to say to my face that I wasn't ready yet. One day instead of quietly saying "yes, I was," I'll make them explain to me exactly what makes them say such a stupid thing.
Sadly, this is just a tip of the iceberg. About two months ago I went to a reproductive psychologist (pre- and -postnatal) to seek help. She didn't bother looking through my file before our meeting, so I had to go through the whole "OMG what happened?" thing. It's tough as is, now imagine trying to explain "cause of death unknown" to a so-called health professional. It is brutal. Either way, I walked out of her office 45min later with noting. No help, nothing. And that was not an isolated episode. At this point I am so tired of seeking "professional" help that I think I'm better off without it.
Since Amelia passed on, I have tried many things to help me deal with her physical death. From some obvious choices of red wine and walks in the park, to more exciting ones when I painted with oils, crayons, watercolours, you name it. I wrote, on this blog and in a journal that I started for Amelia when she was conceived. I tried jogging, had a private trainer, took kickboxing classes, did yoga, hiked, and am taking ice-skating lessons now. I sang my little heart out almost daily (even though I'm pretty bad :), played piano, and will take piano lessons in the fall, and I like drumming my djembe really loud. I power-sanded almost every surface in my house, filled-in tiniest imperfections and painted three coats of paint, even in the closets. I grew a memorial garden. I danced. I cried. I screamed. I laughed. I dressed up. I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but you get the idea. All these things helped, some in good, healing ways, others in ways that made me realise I had trauma I needed to deal with. Who wouldn't after what I've been through? Pardon the grim details, but when I pushed Amelia out, the skin on her arm came off. From the force of birth. Yep, I was so scared to hold her, I never got to really see her fingers, the shape of her nails. Every time I exercise, I get flashbacks of being in labour, of giving birth to her, of giving her away and leaving the hospital empty handed, having no other way out than though the fire. Needless to say, I don't push myself too much.
Yet, I wonder why is it that when I tell people that I can't or don't want to do something, like going to the mall or back to the hospital where I gave death (birth doesn't seem to be the right word) to my Amelia, why don't they just accept it as is and leave me alone? Why do people have to push their assumptions and opinions on me, when they have absolutely no clue? I come across it all the time, persistent advice of some sorts. Well meaning advice, but still... Oh, you Must do this, why don't you just try, you don't know until you do. Um, no. You don't know, because You have healthy living kids at home, or you have a dog, or not even that. I don't tell people what to do with their living children, because I don't have one of those and I don't really know what it's like. Why do they feel the need to tell me what to do with my dead one?
Is it because it will make it easier for everyone? I guess it would be a lot better if I just went back to life as it was, then no-one will have to feel awkward around me, and when they ask me how many kids I have I'd say what? None? Hell NO. It doesn't work that way. I have one daughter, she was born still, without a heartbeat. She was full term, seemingly healthy, absolutely beautiful. Do you know that about 30% of stillbirths have no known cause? Do you know that in 2008, in British Columbia alone, over 400 children were stillborn? That's more than one-a-day! At least one set of parents a day in our province goes through hell and back. And then there are those who lose kids in all other sick and horrible ways. These are rough stats and no, I'm not going to dig up their source right now, but it gives you a general idea why I won't say that I have no kids, why I can't go back to that hospital, why I can't jog, why I emotionally eat, and why I can't go back to how I was before. Because before I was probably as likely to say something stupid to a bereaved parent as anyone else. That's why it is time for a change.
That is why from now on, if someone hurts me with an insensitive comment, I will tell them politely that it hurts. After all, wouldn't you?
On this lovely note, I say good night.
Love and Light to you all