Date night

Last night Ted and I went "out on the town".  We met up for a nice dinner after work and then went to our first grief group meeting.  Though I am glad we went, I am so glad that I never attempted to get to a meeting like this before last night.  Honestly, I don't even think I would have been ready for it last week.  My big conflict when thinking about attending a group has been that the groups that we are meant to go to are for parents who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth and infant loss.  The vast majority of attendees are in the first two categories, the groups I connected with usually only had one other parent of a baby between 1 day and 1 year old who had passed.  One of the group leaders told me that parents who have lost children over 1 years old aren't comfortable with parents who have lost babies and so that is why they group it the way they do.  Before I go any further, let me say again, my heart bleeds for women who have experienced miscarriage and stillbirth and I have met so many of these women over the past seven and a half months.  There is SO much that we relate about - the isolation, the knowledge that nobody gets it, the taboo nature of discussing our loss....but I really have felt like in order for a group to really be helpful to me at this stage, I need to connect with people who have had the experience of losing a child that had been born and lived a while and been integrated into their parent's lives after their birth.  I'm not sure I can accurately articulate it but that is how I have felt.  I know Ted has felt the same.  Afterall, the father bonds with the baby much more after the baby is born.  While Ted did read to Max while I was pregnant with him and was so excited for his arrival, they really fell in love after Max was born.  Ted didn't feel kicks or hiccups or feet pressed up against his ribs before Max came out either.  Also - I am sure part of my not wanting to go to the first group also has to do with my desire to have more children.  Having to go through pregnancy, delivery and the first year of life with another child is so daunting and scary to me.  I need to try, as best as I can, to keep the worst case scenarios out of my head for now (just as some friends who are pregnant now have told me that keeping the idea of what happened to us out of their realm of possibilities is important for them at this stage).  Enough excuses - Ted and I went to a meeting for people who had lost children of all ages and it was HEAVY, as expected.  The room was filled with mostly parents but also a few siblings.  A lot of the stories were violent - quite a few murders.  There were a few parents of children who died of diseases, a couple of car accidents, drunk driving, and drug overdoses.  Each story so heartbreaking, so unnecessary, and so hurtful.  The stories were all so disconnected in one sense, and in other ways, it was so clear how connected we all really were.  At one point Ted said to me, "these are our people".  I guess they are now.  There were a lot of people who were out for justice, others who had given up that battle, others with nobody to blame.  Everyone spoke about how in the period after the loss, their circle of support dwindled to one or two people.  They spoke about the hostility that colleagues and former friends expressed for them, the constant insensitive things that people said to them "He is in a better place", "At least you had her for 17 years", "What did you DO for THAT to have happened to you?", "At least you have another child".  I could go on and on actually.  Many spoke about the desire of other people to see them get "better".  There were people in the room who had lost children 20 years ago - they confirmed that you don't get better, it just gets different.  Ted and I didn't do any talking after introducing ourselves.  We just listened.  After the meeting, we were getting ready to bolt, when the nicest woman came over to introduce herself to us.  She had lost an eight year old daughter 18 years ago.  The pain in her eyes revealed a grief that was so fresh, it could have happened a month ago.  Within two sentences she said, "Tell me about your son.  Tell me about Max".  I couldn't control my tears at that point.  All of my emotions came flooding out.  "Thank you so much for asking about him", I said.  I felt grateful to talk about him - how cute he was, how he was just about to start crawling (she remembered that phase well), how he was such a good baby, such a good boy.  We asked about her daughter - I think I need to respect her privacy here but the story makes me want to leap out of my skin, fly to the heavens, and ask god why life can be so cruel.  Ted and I loved this woman.  She made the whole meeting worth it to me.  An incredible and lovely soul.  Why?!!!!!  Why did she have to lose her precious little girl?  It makes me so angry.  But, she acted like a role model for us...for me, at least (can't speak for Ted).  I hope in 18 years (or less), I can approach the newcomer parents who are newly fresh with grief and just listen while they tell me about their beloved child.  It was such a gift.

1 comment

Tamar said...

Oh, Abs, I have tears in my eyes. That woman sounds so amazing. I hope being able to connect with other people who have experienced a similar loss brings you both some comfort. I know how hard you are working to get through every difficult day and honor sweet Maxie's memory. I miss him and think about his cute little smile and face every day.