Please stop counting my blessings

Friday, April 20, 2012

Yesterday I was feeling pretty hurt again - angry even.  I feel a little better this morning.  I was angry that some of the people who love me have a hard time letting me feel my feelings.  I am smart enough to know that it is because of their love for me that they say the things that they do.  I know that they want to see me happy again and so they try to convince me that there are so many reasons for me to feel happy.  Still, if losing Max isn't a good enough excuse to feel devastated, I really have no idea what is.

I read somewhere recently (I really can't remember where - Chicken Soup for the Grieving Soul perhaps?) how important it is to validate the feelings that others feel.  The point was specifically made about children who had lost a parent or a sibling.  So many times, those children are discouraged from feeling sad.  They are told to focus on all of the good things that they still have - the remaining parent, the remaining sibling, a puppy, a goldfish.  To keep a child from expressing their feelings of extreme loss has an effect that is detrimental over a lifetime.  It is bad for their health, for their self esteem, for their ability to empathize with other people.  If really big deals are made to feel like "no big deal", children grow up with a very skewed vision of the world around them.  I read another example (maybe in the same book?) of children who had terminal illnesses.  Those whose parents allowed them to express their fears, who validated the sadness that they felt and who encouraged a conversation about what happens after this life felt much more emotionally supported than the children whose parents continued to tell them that "everything would be ok" when they were really terminal.  They didn't feel safe enough to say that they were scared, so they kept it inside, leading to an inability for them to contain their fears at all.  Then, they not only had to contend with their own fears, they had the pressure of putting on a brave face for their parents as well.  No child should have to bear that burden.  The thought of scared terminal children not being able to express how they feel to their own parents breaks my heart.

In one of the workshops we attended last weekend, the facilitator told us that as adults, many of us are too confused to even know what we are feeling.  She says that children are told "You are not really scared" and to go back to bed when they say they are scared in the middle of the night, that "it doesn't hurt.  It's ok", when they scrape their knees....It's confusing to tell a child that they don't really feel what in fact they think they feel.  "I'm not scared?", she joked..."ok, I thought I was scared."  How far are we willing to go to not feel our feelings.  Believe me, I'd rather not feel them, but suppressing them doesn't get me anywhere.  Sometimes it releases a little of the pent up sorrow to actually feel it.  I really believe that it's ok to be sad, scared, fearful and angry.  Life isn't easy.  Terrible things happen to many, if not most of us.  Are we so scared of feeling sad?  Are we so scared of letting others feel sad, that we have to put a happy face on every devastation?

Losing Max is just devastating.  I don't need to put it into a big picture (and even when I do, it is still devastating....sometimes more so).  Yes, I still have blessings in my life but he doesn't and he IS my whole life.  Every blessing we have is a blessing Maxie is missing out on.  I am not sure every parent feels the way I do but I have to believe that most do - I want a better life for my child than I want for myself and if my child dies (which he did....my child died!), he has no life at all....so in many ways it doesn't really matter what MY blessings are.  I stopped being the most important person to me when Max was conceived.  My current life took on new meaning when Baby M was conceived.  This is just how it is.  I am not sure why this is so hard to understand.  Max's happiness is MORE important than mine.  Baby M's happiness is too.  As a parent, I feel that their lives are more important than mine.  Ted feels the same way I do.  Our lives revolve around them and their happiness, and one of them is now gone.  Max was robbed of living his life.  He was robbed of getting to be a big brother.  He was robbed of pressing his little face again my belly and trying to feel kicks.  In fact, he was robbed of every one of MY blessings that the people who love me keep counting.  And guess what?  Baby M was robbed of a really wonderful big brother.  Robbed....both of them.  Baby M is not an afterthought or a replacement baby (not that there is really such a thing)....he was a baby we planned on having all along.  We always planned on giving Maxie a sibling - whether by natural birth or IVF or adoption or whatever it would have taken.  Baby M was supposed to have a big brother.  So, please, please - stop counting my blessings....or, at least, leave me out of it.  If it makes you feel any better - I promise that I KNOW how blessed I am but please try to understand that since Maxie isn't as blessed as me, it feels wasted (and honestly Max was my biggest blessing, the one that counted more than anything.  I would trade every other blessing to bring back Max if that were possible).  We may not see eye to eye, but that's ok.  You know it hurts me.  You know that having this conversation over and over just pushes me away...and not having you in my life when I need you most would be one less blessing for both of us to count.  I love you too much.

7 comments:

Becca said...

I hear you. There is a great book called Raising Cain that I have been meaning to re-read. I don't remember if it deals specifically with grief issues, but the main point of the book is how to raise emotionally healthy boys in a society that continually sends the message that to feel/express emotions like fear, sadness, anger, etc is a negative thing. I remember when I first read it I thought it could apply to EVERYONE, not just boys. I don't know why we're all so afraid to feel badly when bad things happen. Anyway, it's a great book.

Bianca said...

This was covered over and over again when I was getting my MSW, but is also just something I encounter on a personal level. People young and old want to be heard and acknowledged, not fixed, advised and cheered up. Yet our society really wants to away push any or fix any feelings that aren't cheery. And our rituals and customs for death and grief are so minimized! Also, I just want to say that I hear you. Losing sweet Maxie, your sweet baby son, is completely devastating and not something you "get over." And you and Ted and baby M, and most of all Maxie, have been completely robbed. It is so unfair and so sad.

Rebecca Patrick-Howard said...

Thank you. Excellent post.

Mslabella said...

Thanks for this post. I'm going to take from this as I move forward. It's okay to grieve, it's healthy and it's appropriate. Your son died.

Meg said...

That makes so much sense, blessings feeling wasted if your child is robbed of them. Your feelings are absolutely valid and *rational*, in the context of your circumstances.

Somewhat unrelatedly....that top picture of Maxie tugs at my heartstrings every time I see it. The expression "painfully cute" comes to mind. I never even met him and he melts me...he must just make your heart explode.

Tiffany Torres said...

yes i completely understand. i had a few people who tried to minimize my feelings. even my dear father who told me that i just "needed to be strong." ok, no being strong is the last thing i wanted to be. people just don't understand that we need to feel want we need to feel. it seems like society as a whole just wants to rush us through our grief.

NikaM said...

When I lost my first baby, I was sent to the command's chaplain for "counseling". He told me I shouldn't be sad, I should be happy my parents were still together and had a good relationship with me because that's more than a lot of people have. I still haven't figured out what that had to do with my baby, or how that was supposed to make me feel better. I really hate people like that, even though many of them do mean well.

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