Thursday, March 17, 2011

I recently have "liked"  Tom Zuba on facebook. He is a grief guide and an author. He advocates for mourning safely. His own story is horrific. He lost his toddler daughter, his wife and son. All at different times, all for different reasons. My heart ached when I read his story. How can one person endure so much loss? Watching life he created, die. Watching the love of his  life, die.

His posts on facebook have always hit home with me.

This one quote he posted today  really hit home for me. I often feel people are shocked when I can talk about Curtis' story so easily. But it isn't that it doesn't still does....but his death has allowed me to be a much better person in dealing with other people's losses.

When we are in pain, we become self-centered and myopic. When we heal, we become more empathetic, self-less, and sympathetic to the pain and welfare of others. It is our gift to others to heal ourselves." ~ Max Strom

I remember being completely selfish when we lost Curtis. Which was fine. I needed to protect myself, my heart. It means not being around for Christmas that year, it meant not answering the door for trick or treaters....  It is what I needed to do to learn my new normal and "heal" into that norm.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Today, I took Claudia to her gym class and something that happened there has been haunting me ever since.

Another family was there watching their older boy who is in Claudia's class. I have seen them before but it had been awhile. Another mom was standing next to me and she asked this couple, "Where is your little one today?"

He died last week, they replied.

My heart sunk. SIDS they said. He was 5 months old. My eyes filled with tears. Her eyes filled with tears.

This is the first time I have experienced this. I have been on the other end numerous times. I was pregnant, then I wasn't. People in my life who knew me, but didn't KNOW me, asked "You had the baby! Where is he?" Their faces would fill with horror. They would stammer out some statement. It was horrible.

I didn't know what to do. Do I intrude on their grief and tell them I lost a son? I was catapulted back to June of 2006 when all I felt was overwhelming grief. Where living each day took so much strength and effort I could barely remember to take a breath.

I told them I lost my first. I told them he was stillborn when I was 40 weeks pregnant. I told them my situation was different but I understood grief. I said to find support, find a support group, find people who knew, people who would be willing to talk about their boy. Surround yourself with people who understand grief is a life long process and you will never be the same.  The mom asked me questions. Would she ever smile again. Would she have another baby. How did I get through my next pregnancies. She asked if I had miscarried, I said yes. She asked how I responded. I was honest. I told her I was mad as hell. I told her how my two subsequent pregnancies were horribly debilitating. She talked about his funeral and his little casket. She had been admitted to the hospital a few days ago because her grief was too overwhelming and she became dehydrated. I told her she will smile again and feel okay but the grief of losing her baby will never leave. She asked how to keep his memory alive.  I told her she will do so many things in his memory.... I told her about resources I know about to help them through this year.

Her husband eventually steered her away from me.I could tell he was uncomfortable with our conversation. I felt horrible about this. He obviously was trying to get his wife to focus on their little boy in his class, she obviously is in a rough place being that she just got out of the hospital. I felt bad, I probably overstepped my boundaries but I so badly wanted her to unload on me. He was trying to be polite, I could tell, but I had upset him. I told them my situation was different, but grief...I know grief.

Seeing a mother in SO much pain, so much raw pain, brings me back so quickly to my own pain. I feel a touch of survivor's guilt because I am over 4 years out from losing Curtis and I feel as normal as I can. I miss him, I grieve him, I write and talk about him...but I am past that first year where I wanted to crawl under a rock and die. I remember what it feels like to be her and I am so glad I am not there. It is a yucky feeling to watch someone feel the way she does and remember I felt like that once too.

I want to apologize if I said something or did something to further their pain....I just wanted so badly to talk with them and be someone who understands. I can't understand SIDS, I only know stillbirth but each is grief beyond measure. You can't compare the two, but you can look at two mothers who are grieving, four and a half years apart.