Relating

Monday, June 10, 2013

Every few months, someone (or several people) who are too cowardly to reveal their name, posts a mean spirited comment to my blog.  It is always in response to me writing about being angry, shaken up and/or hurt.  I think very carefully before I post, because I know that when I am angry, it makes those readers of mine who are not in grief very uncomfortable.  I usually decide to write anyway because I know that there are grievers who read my blog who can relate to my fury.  I write about these experiences, not because I think that my issues with others are so unique and my anger is special in any way.  I write about them for the exact opposite reason.  I write about them because I KNOW that the other grievers get it and are going through the same stuff I am.  They are the ones I care about.  They are the ones that have been or are in my shoes. 

Every week I hear from other bereaved parents - ones that I have met through my experiences over the last 22 months, ones that I have found online, and ones who have found me.  Invariably, the conversation always turns to how we have been hurt by the immediate and peripheral people in our lives.  Sometimes our anger is totally misdirected.  Sometimes it is completely appropriate.  It doesn't really matter.  What matters is that we all share this experience and I believe that when I share my honest feelings here, my grieving readers feel less alone.  I know that I feel less alone when I learn that others are dealing with many of the emotions that I am.

There is a blog that I have been reading pretty much since I first lost Max.  The writer has so many wonderful things to say about life with the child that she has had since losing her first born.  Her memories of her first born are so well illustrated and familiar.  From her writing, she seems very happy and content, loving and forgiving.  I used to read her blog with an inferiority complex....always wondering why I couldn't feel more accepting, like her.  I wondered if perhaps people weren't saying the same stupid things to her or ignoring her because she made them uncomfortable.  It made me feel bad about myself.  I hoped that I could become more like her.  More accepting, less angry.  I didn't think she even knew I existed.

One day I received an email from her.  It really surprised me.  She was writing in response to a post on my blog - about being angry.  In her email she told me about all of the terrible things people had said to her since her child passed.  She told me how she felt she couldn't mention the terrible things that family and friends had said to her.  They might read it on her blog and be offended (strange that we worry whether people will be offended if we write that we were offended by the offensive things they've said and done).  She related to my feelings of anger and said she had them too.  She was really angry!!!!  And, oh lord!  Some of the things people said to her were shocking.  Why shouldn't she be angry?  Her beautiful child had died.  It isn't really all that surprising.

Many months ago, I was speaking to a woman whose first child was stillborn.  It had been many years since that very dark time in her life.  She told me how angry she had been at the doctor whose lack of attention to an issue she was having was likely the reason that her child did not live.  She told me how much her relationships with her mother and sister suffered because they repeatedly told her to "get over it" or just acted like nothing had happened at all.  She was talking to me on her cell phone, waiting outside of her daughter's school to pick her up.  The doctor with whom she had been so angry was a parent at the same school.  The woman I was speaking to told me that she wasn't even that mad at the doctor anymore, "In fact, I am waving to her right now".  I found that stunning.  If I ran into Max's pediatrician, I think my heart would stop.

There was a point in my grief where anger was my most prevalent emotion.  I was SO angry at those who hurt me - on purpose or by mistake.  "Why couldn't people be more sensitive with me?", I wondered.  "Didn't they understand how fragile I was?"  Honestly, this isn't how I feel anymore.  I don't know when the shift happened because it was so gradual but I honestly feel empathy for people who don't know how to reach out and express condolences.  My heart is more understanding for those who felt too much fear to approach me and be kind.  I feel kind of bad for the people in my life who cannot connect to me since Max died.  They just don't know how to be there and it is sort of sad.  Even though once in a while the anger creeps back in, it just isn't the most overwhelming thing that I feel. 

Recently I had a very bad day and I was hysterically crying to a friend - telling her how angry I was.  How much people have hurt me and how there are certain people that I wish had taken more responsibility for their actions.  On that day, anger WAS the most overwhelming thing I felt - or at least, I thought it was.  She reminded me that in this case, what people say and do doesn't matter at all.  What matters is that Max is gone...but the weight of that emotion alone is too much to bear and so it gets spread around and sometimes it shows up in the form of anger at people who haven't been incredibly sensitive and that's ok.  They will live. 

When I feel misunderstood by some "anonymous" commenter (who is, let's face it, likely someone I know), I remind myself that they haven't stood for even one minute in my shoes.  If they had, I know that they would understand my periodic anger, apathy, loneliness and heartache.  Instead of writing to chastise me, they'd probably be writing to tell me that they feel the same way too. 

9 comments:

Taryn said...

You are doing such a selfless thing by sharing so honestly. That takes courage and precious energy when you are already working so hard to get through each moment. You are serving people in a way that not many others can. I think it's amazing.

Becca said...

I echo Taryn. I think that the fact that you are willing to share, even and especially with those of us who do not know you personally and are NOT in the midst of grief, is amazing. I think about your Maxie every single day.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Taryn and Becca and all the other followers of your blog that have stood behind you after that particular anonymous writer. Just what you needed, one more thing to be upset about. What upsets me is that you let that idiot upset you. Just know that all your readers are on your side and care about you and think about you and your family every day. Even if we don't know you, we feel like we do.

Tamar said...

The power of your blog is limitless, Abby. Both for the comfort and perspective you provide to other parents who have lost children and to the people who want to better understand your experience from your perspective. Thank you for continuing to bring us all in to your everyday experience and allowing us also to remember and love your Maxie.

Hannah said...

People who say nasty things are not what you need, are they? If they don't like your blog why are they reading it?

Anonymous said...

Today it is 6 months since I lost my little girl....six months exactly. I am grateful that you have found the strength to share your experience. I have no hope right now, I feel so dark, but reading your blog has given me hope, that maybe I'll get to where you are. I have had so many people say and do the worst things possible!!!! The anger I feel sometimes gives me a break from the horrible pain and grief I am always feeling. I do not understand why anyone would take the time to write something mean on a blog dedicated to helping others during such a dark time, however, I do not understand much these days.....all I can say is thank you for sharing ALL your feelings and perspectives.

Anonymous said...

You are amazing and your blog is beautiful, precisely because you share ALL your feelings - including the anger and jealousy and fear and hurt. I have learned so much from reading your writing.

Jayden's Mommy said...

Oh. Abby. If they were just in our shoes for a few minutes. I'm still very angry. I wish people just knew....my baby left a little bit after six months of Maxie been gone.... I found your blog and up until this day every night when I pray I thank God for you. For your blog. When you are in such a dark place wishing to be gone (it's something real). Reading this blog help me to keep going. I always said I wish no one has to go thru this but I'm guilty of wishing this pain in all the stupid people that just should not open their mouths. Please know for everyone that might get upset for you writing something there are a lot more that benefit from it. I wish I could write all the time but I just can't. Many hugs,

Kira

Jennie said...

Abby, I don't usually comment but I read nearly all your posts and I love your honest sharing. Others, me included, cannot possibly imagine what you and Ted have gone through and I cannot imagine why people think they can judge your grief or experiences. I love you both so much and support you 1000%. :), Jennie

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