Pick on someone else & Thanksgiving Hangover

I spent some time yesterday reading some of the other SIDS blogs.  I was surprised (and also not surprised) to find that on every single one that I looked at there were challenging "Anonymous" commenters that had criticisms to share of the way that the parents were grieving their losses.  Strange that all of our blogs attract this element.  This is the part of the grief that baffles me.  Why is this territory so hostile?  Why would you want to cause more pain to someone who has lost a child than they already feel?  Two days ago I posted a long description of how SIDS affects parents who have lost their babies.   You may have read that there is nothing more traumatic for a mother than having her infant ripped away from her and that even among animal mothers, the reaction is shock, anger, despair.  How could anyone not know this?  Why would you pick on me?  You don't have anyone better to pick on?  If you were going to write to me, or call me or visit me, why wouldn't you go out of your way to try and be gentle and kind and helpful with me?  Grief is not only lonely, it can be incredibly hostile. My sadness makes you uncomfortable and so you lash out.
A girlfriend of mine suggested that I stop blogging.  That instead I create a website where I only write about the wonderful memories I have of Max.  I could link it to Auntie Beth's Team Maxie page and sell trees and t-shirts too.  That way nobody could lash out at me.  I created this blog for two reasons - to have a space to remember my baby boy and to chronicle my journey through this grief.  I have no intention of sugar coating the experience. I am not going to make it all pretty so that other people don't have to feel weird about my pain.  The people who are uncomfortable reading about it can stop reading.  Anyway, shutting down my blog would not shut down the hostility.  People don't like the sad and depressed.  They want it to go away.  One SIDS mommy I know told me that when she returned to work after losing her baby, there were people who just stopped speaking to her.  Then, after she got pregnant again and started showing, those same people started talking to her again.  There were people who tried to minimize her loss at every turn.  There were others who were just straight up hostile.  I have had many face to face, phone and email experiences with people who are not "anonymous" that I wish I could erase from my memory.  When I am with people who are uncomfortable I just politely smile and try to engage in the conversations that they are nervously trying to construct.  I try to be the person that they want me to be.  It is an effort.  I will never be able to look at some of those people in the same way again.  This blog is a place where I don't have to politely nod and smile.  So, creating a happy space to put my memories and shutting down the part of this blog that allows me to express my emotions is not the answer for me.  This blog has been a great space for me to be real.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  It always has been.  My mother has hosted it for our very large extended family for many years.  We usually have 30-40 people.  Even though my mother has traditionally been the hostess, the holiday reminds me most of my grandmother.  My Grandma Marilyn, who Maxie was named for, was an amazing cook.  She even had a trendy restaurant on Hillhurst Ave. in Los Feliz called "1928" back in the day.  My uncle Danny was a customer there and befriended my Cousin Andrea, who introduced him to my Aunt Alison and they have been living happily ever after.  I used to sell creations made of sea shells and googly eyes in the restaurant lobby with my best friend growing up, Danna.  We made little clam faced guys who would play sea shell horns and little sea shell barrettes and pins.  Our company was called "Dab Co."  We were so proud of our hard work.  My grandmother had previously been in the antique business and 1928 was filled with beautiful old antiques, some of which were also for sale.  Most everyone in my family had some time working in the restaurant in some capacity.  They were famous for their chili (which I still make) and their Sunday brunch (that is the meal that Danny and his friends would hit).  I loved hanging out at the restaurant.  One of the family stories about me from when I was a kid was how I tried to get out of Hebrew School one Sunday so I could hang out with my grandma at the restaurant.  As she tells the story, I said to my non-Jewish grandma, "To tell you the truth Grandma, it is very weird there.  I don't even know what they are teaching me!  They could be teaching me bad words for all I know!"   Anyway, Grandma was an amazing cook and the stuffing she made every year for Thanksgiving was out of this world!  I am more of a mashed potatoes gal but my Grandmother's stuffing was phenomenal.  I got the recipe from her the year before she died and I have no idea what I did with it.  Maybe with the help of some relatives I can piece it back together.  The Thanksgiving before my Grandma died (so I think that was TG 2006), the whole family came.  My uncle Jake and his wife Cherry, came from Scotland, where they were living at the time, and then three of their four children and spouses and all of their children (there are a lot), and all of my grandpa Jack's family - Auntie Harriet (Jack's sister), her daughters (the twins - Andrea and Stefanie), and their families, my uncle Steve and auntie Suzie and their families and my aunt Alison and uncle Danny and my cousins Lizzy and Nathan, and all of us.  Am I forgetting anyone?  I am sure I am because it was a big dinner and we were happy to spend so much time with Grandma because we knew she wouldn't be with us long.  That was a really special Thanksgiving.  Last year's Thanksgiving was extra special for us as well because Maxie was making his debut.  He wasn't even two months old yet and he was the hit of the party.  I was able to hold him in the Baby Bjorn for a while and then he was really passed around.  He spent an extra long time in the arms of my cousin Stef's boyfriend Eric.  Maxie was content to just sleep and sleep.  Introducing my little family to my big family was so amazing.  I only wished that my grandparents had the chance to meet him.  He was special beyond words.  Yesterday there were 7 of us at Thanksgiving and 8 dogs!  My mom and Ken, her best friend Jackie and her husband Stuart, Paul, Ted and I.  The whole day felt surreal.  No family, no baby.  My heart was numb.  I tried to dwell in the numbness and just will the whole thing to pass as easily as possible.  We all brought our dogs over - we brought our 2, Paul brought his 2, Jackie and Stuart brought their 1, and my mom has got 3.  So, keeping them off the tables and out of the pool kept us somewhat busy and entertained.  I kept thinking about Maxie and that he should have been there.  My arms felt VERY empty.  I was thinking that hopefully Maxie is with our family, with Grandma Mare, and Grandpa Jack and my dear cousin Andrea and my Grandma Ann (my grandma on my dad's side who spent every Thanksgiving until she passed at my mom's house) and all of Ted's grandparents.  If he is with them, he is not as lonely as us and is getting lots of love and attention.  If he is with them, he had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I can assure you though, he belongs with us.  It was not and will not ever be the same without him.  Today, I have got a Thanksgiving "hangover" and it isn't from drinking too much wine or eating too much turkey.


Rebecca said...

I totally agree with you. I have considered writing a book about my experiences with grief. I would call it "Surviving Other People." I know that some people who have lost children have had LOTS of support, but I am not one of them. My husband and I have battled friends, family members, total strangers...It's baffling. One of his frieds flew over from England (you can read about THAT on my SIDS blog) and it was awful. On Day 2 he actually stood over me, screaming at me to move on with my life, while I cowered in the corner. He then refused to visit our son's grave with us because he didn't like me and "felt uncomfortable." And my husband had been friends with him for 16 years. It was incredible. We STILL deal with my father-in-law on a weekly basis. His barrage of letters,texts, and e-mails astound me. How we "killed" our son, how terrible we are, etc. etc. And this was a man that, while a little controlling, NEVER exhibited this kind of behavior before we lost our child.

I think I said this earlier, but it really is about them. They're scared, uncomfortable, or whatever and they react in ways that are unimaginable (and in some cases unforgivable). If you read my blog you wil lsee that some times I react and fight back to the negative comments. Sometimes I don't. I've had people plead with me to shut down my blog because it "hurts so many people" since I write about things that people say to me. And maybe I should have. But honestly, the support that I have received through my blog i sometimes the only thing that has kept me sane.

Rebecca said...

Hmmm...I was signed in with another account when I made my other comments. Let's try this again...