The stigma of loss

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I feel the stigma of my loss wherever I go.  I feel it even when the people around me have no idea that I have lost my son.  I know that someone might ask me at any minute whether Mo is my first or if I have other children and then I will have to make the decision about whether I should tell them about Max.  Nine times out of ten, their reaction is one of complete horror and disgust - they can't wait to get away from me.  And then there are the instances where I encounter people who know me, who know of my loss.  People see Ted and I coming and they look the other way, praying not to make eye contact, hoping not to get stuck next to me in line for the bathroom or at the buffet table.  It used to tear me apart - I've always been extremely social - suddenly, I was someone to avoid.  It stings less these days because I've realized that the people who have dismissed me based on my loss are worth nothing to me.  They aren't people I value anymore than they value me.

We were recently at an event where there were a lot of these kind of interactions going on.  Upon arrival, someone I have known for years, walked right past me pretending not to see me.  I turned to Ted and said, "Oh my god, people are not going to talk to us tonight".  While it doesn't hurt as much as it did in the first year of my grief, it is always a slap in the face.  I know that the sight of my face is a buzz kill.  Very few want to have to interact with the bereaved mother when they are out for a good time.  It's amazing how quickly you become valueless to people.

When kind people do approach us, we notice it.  The people who come over to say hi, ask how we are doing, talk to us about Mo or Max or whatever else - they stand out to us.  They have a different aura.  Sometimes, I can still sense their fear and trepidation, but they are of stronger character and I can feel it. They have put aside their own egos to be human beings.  Sometimes they just say, "I don't know what to say but I just wanted to come say hi".  Usually they find that I am not that scary, that though my heart is heavy, I can still maintain the lightness of the moment.

Maxie's death has given me a clarity and insight into the true character of the people who surround me unlike anything I have ever experienced.  I can see easily spot the empaths, the narcissists, the shallow, the insecure, the deep, the loving, the self involved, the selfless.  I have X-Ray vision - I know who you really are.  It feels like a super power - my ability to read people is one of the few capabilities that has improved since losing Max.  It's a strange gift - one that I never really asked for and didn't really want.  A gift with the highest price tag of them all.  A gift that I value now - but one that I would trade in a heartbeat to have my old life back.


Taryn said...

My mom has talked about having this same kind of 'gift' after loosing my sister. It is something that kicked in almost immediately..somehow she saw all the people who surrounded her with new eyes. She could see those that were good, those who were hurting, those who seemed lost, those who were dark etc. She never questioned her assessment of people because something in the fibers of her being reassured her that what she was seeing was true and real. Her whole world had been turned upside down in an instant and made little sense, yet amid the chaos and uncertainty she had a vision of the world that was so clear and perfect that she could not doubt it. She knew she could unequivocally trust her senses. I find this so interesting, because I don't think this ability to read the souls of others is something that many people have. It is a gift, but it is so painfully won.

greg said...

One of the most insightful and powerful things you have ever posted here. You can see right through every facade now...and I hope it helps you to know who truly loves for and cares about you and Ted and Mo and Maxie. But like you said, it's a gift with the ultimate price I wish you have never paid. I am so sorry Maxie isn't here with you now Abs. It's just not fair.

Seeing Each Day said...

Yes, that makes so much sense that you now have this gift - the only thing that actually does make sense from your Maxie not being here.

Stephanie Sajjadieh said...

So powerful. So right.

Rose said...

Holy Moly! This is a beautiful and heartbreaking post, Abby. I am always so totally impressed by your honesty, and your bravery about being honest. Your words, sentiments and insights are so stark. You have taught me, and continue to teach me, so much about loss and compassion through your writing. I always dug having fun with you, but what I loved and love about you is your humanity and the powerful intellect that you use to express it. I am so heartbroken for you and Ted. And I am heartbroken for Maxie, whose life was way way way too short and who missed out on a beautiful future with his mom and dad and gorgeous brother. And for Mo, who won't know his brother. It is just sad beyond words. Sending love and good thoughts now and always.

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