I do want to explain a little bit about why I was so angry yesterday.  You see, I am very fragile.  I lost my baby.  I feel as though the whole world will come crashing in on me at every minute of every day.  And, by the way, it already did when Max died.  I have this Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is a real thing and causes me to have a running slideshow in my brain nearly all day long of my Max moments - all of the beautiful lovely ones as well as the entire 55 hours from the time that I received the call that he stopped breathing to the time when we had to take him off of the breathing machine and watch him take his last breath.  I cry every single day.  Sometimes all day long.  Sometimes less.  I have a headache, heartache and a stomach ache all day, every single day.  I feel a phantom baby sitting in my arms and if I close my eyes, I can imagine kissing his cheeks and the back of his head and nibbling on his little ears and whispering to him how much I love him - every single day.  I wake up every day sad.  Every single day.  This is a lot for me to handle myself.  I can hardly handle it at all.  I can't tell you exactly how Ted feels but what I can tell you is that he is devastated.  Max was his little boy and best friend.  He has a beautiful photo of Max in his car that used to be there to make him smile while driving but now serves as a memorial.  He has all of his own sadness and then comes home to me, which can only make him extra sad.  In spite of many people knowing this, there are still certain people who seem to want to take this opportunity to teach us a lesson - whether in self reliance, or in stepping up to the plate, or in accepting that life is tough and we should learn to grin and bear it.  If they aren't trying to teach us a lesson, they are just unwilling to adjust their approach with us just because our baby died.  Some of these people are "friends", some of these people are colleagues, a couple have been "professionals" that we have paid to help us through this crisis.  One professional told me that my grief does not serve me...as if it is a choice.  This professional has never lost anyone close to her except her own dog, so I am sure that from her perspective grief does seem like a choice.  I would dare her or anyone to find a parent who has lost a child and didn't grieve...and parents who murder their own children don't count.  I have a friend who I politely asked to try and find someone else to lean on after her dog died.  Her response was "Nah".  She wanted to continue to share everything from her life with me, even if it hurt me.  I think the lesson she wanted me to learn was that the world doesn't stop spinning because of my loss.  Or maybe it was that everyone has grief and I need to be sympathetic to others going through things.  I recently asked a colleague for help in trying to put together a plan for my future.  He told me that my strength was in the work I used to do and that I was on my own (not in those exact words but pretty close).  Perhaps to my old self, each of these examples (and plenty more) would seem like no big deal.  Just people who don't really get it or just don't want to help. No big deal, right?  I have let so very few people into my sacred space, I have been so selective about who I engage with that if I have let you in, you are among few.  I have only let people in who I think will be soothing or who I think might be able to help me in some way.  I am protecting myself because I am breaking.  The truth is that I know these people who have hurt me well enough to know that they don't "get it" and probably wouldn't be helpful or soothing.  In most cases, these people have hurt me on more than one occasion since Max died or in more than one way.  Still, what drives me out of my mind is that each of these people thinks that they were doing me a favor - by visiting with us, by teaching us a lesson, by helping me learn to be more self sufficient.  That with all of their worldly knowledge, they were teaching me something.  Or that I would be grateful that they took time out of their schedules to visit or sit down with little old me.  What they don't understand is that every day I learn a new hard lesson about life...with or without their help.  If you are worried that I haven't learned enough or that somehow my fragility is such that I can't do for myself, you can stop worrying.  I have learned enough about life for ten lifetimes.  Hate to say it, but I probably have learned more about life than you.  And I now understand that when you say "I can't imagine what you must be feeling", you really mean it.  What I am feeling is dread every morning that I wake up that I have to face another day.  What I am feeling is complete heartbreak that I will never see my child again in my lifetime.  Never Again!  What I am feeling is sorrow that my life will never be as good again and I have years of sorrow to look forward to - the whole entirety of my lifetime.  What I am feeling is shock, horror, disappointment, grief, anger, sadness, despair!  Imagine the shittiest day of your life and then imagine waking up to it every day forever.  You wouldn't want to "do lunch" on the shittiest day of your life.  You wouldn't want to listen to someone who hasn't been through what you have been through tell you how it's going to get better.  You wouldn't want someone trying to distract you by speaking in tongues or making joke after joke.  You may think that is what you would want - you wouldn't.  You would want someone to really listen to you.  You would want someone who really cared about you enough to maybe even put your needs ahead of their own, even if just for the time you spent together.  You would want help from someone who had the ability to be helpful to you.  I honestly just don't have room in my life for the people who want to teach me a lesson right now.  I need to focus on being as well as possible.  I barely have room in my life for my very nearest and dearest right now.  I love hearing from people.  I love emails and comments on the blog and even a voicemail (because I don't always pick up the phone).  But, I guess what I am saying is that  unless you have been where I have been, please try not to ignore my vulnerability and grief.  It isn't going anywhere very soon and you don't know better than I do about what I need.  Please try to be compassionate and remember that I am a mother who lost her baby and that I am sensitive and heartbroken and my spirit has been destroyed.  If you can remember to approach me with love in your heart instead of an agenda, you will find that I will love you in return.


Anonymous said...

Obviously, what you have suffered is an unbearable loss.

I don't pretend to know you in anyway. I came across your blog, when referred by another parent who lost a child, and can totally empathize with your pain and personal torment.

I think though, that you have to understand, and I know this from my own personal loss, that grief can take a dark twist and turn. There is a fine line between "normal" grief (I don't mean to trivialize the grieving process) and complicated grief and depression. I don't know enough about you to offer a diagnosis or anything, nor am I qualified to do so.

It seems, however, that only based on your posts here and your description of yourself, your dress, your PTSD, your eating habits, and general withdrawal as well as other comments, that maybe you are not actually grieving in a constructive and cathartic manner, but rather have unfortunately taken a turn to being depressed. I understand firsthand, that grieving is messy and that people experience and respond to grief situations differently.

But, I also know from my own demons that depression is a cruel problem that interferes with the grieving process and actually can derail it. You have said you are seeing a professional. So I hope that they are capable and competent to make the diagnosis if warranted.

I take issue to some extent with your categorization of some friends and professionals as being incapable of understanding your pain as they themselves have not necessarily personally experienced the loss of a baby. I also was in this mind frame when I too suffered a loss. But with hindsight and clarity, I have learned that this is a false argument.

The human condition allows people, whether friends, family, anonymous posters, professionals to have empathy. Human empathy allows one to understand the torment that you must be experienced. Furthermore, as I have come to realize, one doesn't need to have actually experienced the particular event to be able to treat it or to offer advice to those who have.

For instance, does a doctor have to have had cancer, a heart attack, appendicitis, to know how to treat these diseases. Must a Sports coach have had to be the best in his sport to coach others to do well. If one looks at the top coaches in many sports, they often were not the best or even decent players themselves.

These are some of my personal insights that I learned.

Finally, I noticed that you formerly worked as an archivist for the Shoah foundation. You must know that these survivors also suffered tremendous personal torture and loss, yet they survived. It may take time. I wish you the best.

Abby Leviss said...

Yes, anonymous, I have been told that I am suffering from depression. To be frank, I didn't really need anyone to diagnose me as such. I am very very depressed, you are right. And, I agree, there are many kinds of grief and I don't think that you can't understand me if you haven't experience my particular brand but what I will say is that others who have suffered my exact loss can relate to exactly how I feel. So, for whatever that is worth, it is worth something to me. By the way, I welcome empathy and I will give empathy as well. It is those people who feign empathy but come at me by minimizing my grief that I don't need advice from. There are plenty of friends and family who have not suffered my loss or come close to it that have shown me a tremendous amount of empathy and support. I am grateful to them. This blog is my diary and if I feel like ranting about someone who went out of their way to show me that they were not empathetic, I have decided that this is my space to where I can do that. And, yes, I recognize that it is public. So you should feel free to criticize (which you have, and that is fine). I worked as a cataloguer for the Shoah Foundation and if you think that Holocaust survivors do not carry their tremendous loss with them every single day, you are very mistaken. I have found through my personal relationships with survivors as well that it took each of them a very long time to process what happened to them. Most are still processing. And, every sorrow, every joy, every success, every simcha, every holiday, every day since they survived has been against the backdrop of their loss. Yes, they survived but their loss is something none of us should ever have to know and should never claim to understand. So, will I survive? Yes. I am surviving. Does it annoy you that I am suffering while I figure it out? Clearly but that is the part that I am not sure I understand. Yes, anonymous, I am depressed....very depressed. I know you are probably a much stronger person than me (I can tell you are by the strength of your conviction). I hope that when you experienced your deep grief that you were not derailed by depression. I haven't met a parent yet who didn't suffer from it, but be my first! It would be an inspiration and I welcome your story. Thanks for your comments.

Joyce Sachartoff said...

Two months ago, if a genie popped out of a lantern and offered me a few wishes I'm sure I would have wished for lots of money and a beautiful size 8 body. If I ever come across that genie, be assured that you get one of those wishes so you can have your Maxie back. Irrational, yes. But it doesn't matter; I just want you to know that I read every word you write and I would give you my wish without hesitation.

yael said...

abby -
I have said this before and I will say this again - NO ONE has the right to judge you in anyway. This blog is your outlet - your diary - as you wrote. If it bothers people then they don't have to read it! Max was your baby. A part of your soul - I totally get that. People should take a step back and not say anything to you if its not positive. You are surrounded by your mom, dad, close family, your husband and they will let you know face to face if they think something is terribly wrong with you (which there isn't!!!).


Abby Leviss said...

Oh Anonymous, I wish I could let it go, but I can't. A doctor has gone to school to learn to treat patients with specific conditions. My Obgyn is a man, but I don't think that means he can't deliver my babies. My therapist has two living children but I don't think that means she can't treat my depression. I am not sure I understand the parallel you are making. A person who has not lost a child who tells me to get over it who is not a trained professional can suck it. And by the way, I don't have to (and you shouldn't either) take the advise of any therapist I see just because they have been trained. We found someone whose expertise is in hospice care and in working with bereaved families. She offers hope and guidance instead of merely offering platitudes (such as "your grief does not serve you" and others).

Zoie Dubinsky said...

If anything is a waste of time, it is anonymous taking up the energies of a woman and friend who needs affirmation and non- judgement more than anything right now. Why does this person feel the need to give unwanted and very subjective advice about a subject they obviously know very little or nothing about? Must be some problem they have with their own image of themselves. Don't entertain this person if they are making you feel worse. What a loser!

Rebecca said...

Oh, anonymous...We are entitled to our feelings. We don't even have to justify them.

Depression IS a part of the grief process. So is anger. And the grief process is not linear. And I HATE it when one person tries to compare grief. (As with the last sentence in your speech.)

DO you not realize that there is a difference in surviving and living? Sure, she is surviving. We all are. But that's kind of the kicker in this nonsense. Our hearts are breaking, our world has fallen apart, and most days we don't even want to get up in the mornings...and yet we keep on surviving. It sucks. I'd rather go back to living in a world with my son than surviving in a world without him.