Wednesday, August 6, 2008

It breaks my heart, yet I feel this pulse, this swell: what I have made, is functioning.

After Charlotte was born, I went to a support group, half an hour from my home, and it met on the second Wednesday of each month, for two hours. So each month I would go, and then I would count off the days until the next one: 31, 30, 29.... In between meetings, when I had those horrible days, those days where the carpet was soaked with my tears, as I lay there prone on the nursery floor, there was nobody.

Four years later, I had started my own group- in my own community, with the help of my own hospital. Right from the start, people started to come. We worked with people often from the day they had their loss-- sometimes getting calls from the delivery room even before birth. This was a great mission for me: not only to provide a group, but to provide a resource. A place where people could truly turn when they needed it. So that when they felt like all was lost, I could help them to see that it might not be.

Tonight, as I logged into my e-mail for the first time since arriving in Shangri-la, I got the note: please help me. One of my friends, my regulars, a few months out, who just feels so much like she is slipping down a backwards slope, watching everyone and everything else in her life moving upwards ahead of her. Please help, she said, and I could.

I had so much to say to her, and maybe you do, too. For me, the summer was the worst. Everything that had to do with Charlotte was done. The results were in, the doctors appointments had been had. I was no longer post-partum, no longer lactating, I was getting ready to return to work, the sympathy cards stopped coming. I had finished planning memorials, sent all the thank you notes. There was this feeling of finality: a book had been written about my daughter Charlotte, and there was nothing left to write. A life lay ahead of me, empty seeming, and I didn't want to go there, but I couldn't go back.

So I cried, and cried, and cried. I didn't know what to do, and I really did wish I could just escape somehow. Go to sleep and not wake up. Skip the next 7 years. It seemed impossible to negotiate. But I did. And here I am, now.

So, though my heart breaks for this woman, and though there is functionally nothing I can do to soothe her pain, I rest comforted that, unlike me, she had somewhere to turn.

Is there anyone else who had these experiences several months out? This feeling of a backwards slide, with no end in sight? I wonder....


Shannon said...

That was me three weeks ago.

Aimee said...

I didn't feel so much that I was going backwards as everyone else was STILL going. Yes, they had taken time out to send a card or help with a meal or even come over for a chunk of time to watch my living children. But it was all help and stuff that fit their schedule and their lives. Because, oddly enough, their lives KEPT GOING! So a few months out they were back to their lives, that they never really left, and I was just standing there. HELLO!?!?! Anyone remember me? My baby?? Hello!?!?!? And I stood there. And time passed by and I still stood there. I went to the grocery store and ran into friends..."Hey! How are you doing?" they would ask. As if they really wanted an answer...but they didn't. And i knew that. "Fine." Yeah right. They would push their cart by and down the next isle. "Nice to see you!" Uh huh.

I have a friend going through this now, like you. She is 8 months out from the loss of her twin boys. She feels like she is going crazy, but she isn't. She calls me regularly just to check and I know she is perfectly sane. "You will get through this!" I assure her. She needs to hear it. Then I hang up the phone, thankful that I'm not 8 months out anymore...but still so painfully aware of where I am and what I have lost and I long to be where you are.... She asks me, "How did you manage a year and a half of this??" and I just talk about my friend Carol, who some how, some way has managed 5 YEARS. It seems a miracle to us.

AnnaMarie said...

Hi, I'm a new comment-er.

For me, that feeling of stagnation started about 5 months after delivery and hasn't left yet (I'm at 9 months now). Like you said, everything involving saying goodbye, holding memorials, and reviewing memories is over. Once all the things energy was poured into are complete then what? And family and friends do move on and, in my experience, get frustrated that they can't do anything to make the hurt go away.

The months following a loss are horrible, filled with acute grief, but the later months are awful in a different way. It's a very lonely time.

It's wonderful that you started a local support group!

Meg said...

Carol, how wonderful it is that these families have somewhere to turn. You are providing something immeasurable. You may not be able to take their pain away, but you let them know that they are not alone and what they feel is real and their precious baby is real. And you also help them to see that the future holds hope. That can help them get through the really hard times, knowing that you did that, too, and it can be done. But most of all, you let them express the emotion and it's safe for them to do that with you. You validate them and their children. You should be very very proud.

Tania said...

How about three years out and you start to feel like you are on the backslide, that is how I feel lately!!! Why I DO NOT know but I do.