Missing our baby boy

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Sunday, May 2, 2010

The best intentions sometimes aren't

I’ve had my first experience with…well, I’m not sure what to call it.

We all grieve differently. Some are internal, some reach out for help. Some grieve longer, while others are functioning sooner. All of us learn to incorporate our loss into our lives, reborn as the parents of lost babies to cope as best we can with our new world.

Sometimes I equate this with the loss of an appendage…an arm, a leg or sight. We are alive, but not whole and learning to live as such. The internally handicapped, with shards of our hearts and souls ripped and shredded, masquerading as normal human beings with no one being the wiser to our tremendous grief.

I understand my reality. I live it and some days it’s painful to breathe.

I remember leaving the hospital. It was so loud…horns in traffic, birds chirping, people in the parking lot on their cell phones. I was even painfully aware of the wind rustling through the trees. I hated all of it. Didn’t the world know I had just lost my son? How could the world go on when one tiny soul was missing? Why didn’t it just stop for a moment in recognition of our grief and pain? Just for a second to acknowledge a precious life gone and that we survived to experience unbelievable pain?

But, the world doesn’t stop, not for a moment, no matter how much we want it to.

And we cope; we all do, as best we can.

Today is International Baby lost Mother’s Day. I received a flower on Face Book from a fellow baby lost mother for this occasion, and I was touched. Nobody can truly understand a loss like this with no direct experience with it. When baby loss mothers gather together to lend support to each other, its truly a beautiful thing and comforting in a situation with very little to offer in the way of solace.

I have a childhood friend who lost her son in February. She was told at 21 weeks he would not survive – a physical impossibility for him, and having to carry him with that knowledge was devastating for her. Our personalities are not the same, but being loss mothers, I felt comfortable passing this flower to her in recognition of Mother’s Day and her loss.

Her reaction was unexpected and hurtful. Like I said, I understand nobody grieves the same way or at the same timeline. I also understand that grief and pain can come out in unexpected ways. Her e-mail to me demanding I erase it from her page was cuttingly direct and personal at the same time.

She said that she didn’t feel the need to “advertise” her grief like “some people” (I would assume that would be me), and because of that “some people” (I would assume me again) treated hers as less real. She also said I wasn’t respecting her process, as I grieved differently than she is.

She said more, but I’m only touching on this part for now.

This is a slap in the face to me in a huge way. Weeks after we lost our son she got her diagnosis and I was the first call she made. We grieved together at that time, talked from four in the morning until five thirty. We talked every couple of days for weeks after…usually about her grief and her situation, which didn’t bother me as it took my mind off of my own.

She had hinted before that what she was going through was worse than what I went through – saying things like “you just wouldn’t understand” (oh, really). I let this go. Knowing her nature and mine, it was best not to touch on it. I told myself I was her grief talking – sometimes, we truly feel like no one else on earth really could understand, even those who have been through it. I don’t think either one of us came out on top, and it’s just stupid to compare the two situations. There are no winners.

Now, however, I’m angry and hurt and all of the conversations we had these last months are coming to mind. After her son passed, she didn’t want to talk about it. At all. I respected that. So, we talked about the future – her plans to try again immediately and mine to wait. How long to wait. What we felt was best for each of us – normal stuff.

Now I receive a scathing e-mail full of talking-downs intended to put me in my place. I’ve moved from hurt to pissed in the span of one morning. I’ve wondered if I was out of line, if she was, if we both were.

My conclusion: a well-meant gesture was taken and blown out of proportion, resulting in harsh words that can’t be taken back. Was it her grief talking? Possibly. Can it be forgiven? I don’t know. By explaining so bluntly her opinion of my grieving process that I inadvertently imposed on her, I feel she went too far.

I’m still grieving, too.

And this member of the “some people” club is choosing to “advertise” their hurt and frustration on their blog ;-)

At this point, I’m disappointed, hurt and feel like I’ve lost a friend when, ironically, through my loss I’ve found tremendous support through online friends and groups.

I suppose there are people out there who do not need those things. I just hadn’t encountered one until today.


  1. Still catching up... I am so sorry that she had this reaction. You are right, most of it was probably her grief, but that doesn't really make it any easier to take.

    I have mentioned before my IRL friend who had the 40 week loss a few years ago...without her support, especially in the very early days, I am not sure what road this process would have taken. Sure...I would still have survived physically, and I probably would not have had a complete nervous breakdown to the point of not being functional....but it all would have been much more difficult. As I look back through everything from those early days, there are two things that have repeatedly jumped out at me. First and foremost is how difficult it was to watch our loss unfold in front of her. It was close enough for her to touch, literally. As she watched all of it happen to us, it was like hitting the instant replay button on her own life. She relived every minute of losing Sophie as she watched us live the early minutes of losing Gracie. I appreciated how difficult this must have been for her, but I didn't appreciate JUST how difficult until the last few months. The other thing that I picked up on very early in the process was that her help and support always came with a 'disclaimer'. She always said that she didn't want to smother us or tell us how to grieve, etc. I initially found it to be a little bizarre, because come on, who is going to turn down support of someone who has been there? Now I understand why she was always so 'cautious' in putting herself out there. (She and I have pretty similar personalities, so there are many similarities in the way we view the world, including the way we view our losses - it sounds like that is NOT the case for you.)

    It is pretty shitty that your wonderfully kind and loving gesture was received in the manner that it was. My heart breaks for you, because I know that you sent it with the best of intentions. Grief is such a shitty thing to predict and interpret. To me, it sounds like she is still very unsettled and unstable in her grief, and it's very likely that she is having difficulty accepting support from anyone. She is likely still in pretty strong denial. Who knows. Please don't let it discourage you from supporting others around you who are part of our little corner of this community. We love you and will never send your flowers back! :-)

  2. I am so sorry it was recieved the way it was. That must of been quite emotional to deal with on your part. I wish she would have realized it came with loving intentions. I agree that everyone does grieve differently. I do not however agree with how she dealt with it. Since she knows first hand what you are going through I am livid that she would be so cruel & hurtful towards you. The comment about you not understanding her loss because they were different losses is also bizarre. If I was to be honest here it really doesn't sound like you lost a very good friend.