Thursday, December 23, 2010

Stories Sadder Than Mine

I read somewhere that the death of a child suddenly makes visible other dead children.

This is true.

I have been contacted and consoled and comforted by so many women whose children are dead.  It is astonishing--both that so many babies die and that their mothers are gracious and generous enough to move from their own grief to comfort other people.

I hope I can do the same someday.

I have let myself get lost a few times in the grief of others and I have been stunned to read stories that are sadder than mine.

Does it get sadder than having a stillborn baby?

I hate to tell you that it does.

I have read stories from women who have struggled with infertility until they reached a breaking point--financial, emotional, or physical, stories from who have had multiple miscarriages, who have lost more than one child, whose babies died of SIDS, whose marriages fell apart after the loss of a child, who have had some combination of these experiences.

It's an unbelievable and unavoidable truth.  There are stories sadder than mine.

I have studied the way other women cope with this kind of loss.  Some of them lean on their faith.  Some of them make a fetish of their dead baby's things.  Some of them dwell in the grief.  Some of them dwell in denial.  Nobody has a foolproof plan.

I hope to eventually join those who have found a sort of tentative peace.  The kind that is frequently interrupted but can usually be regained.  Those who have moved forward without moving on.  Those who find a way to hope even when hoping seems to be the most terrifying and idiotic thing that we as human beings can possibly do.

I am dreading Christmas.  I don't want any gifts because I keep thinking that as long as I don't want anything but Eliza, maybe God or the universe or whatever will recognize that and will let me have her back. 

It's ridiculous and insane but I think I'm allowed to go mad with grief for a while.

I don't want to think about a story of peace and hope that's centered on a wee little baby in a manger. 

I don't want to pretend everything's ok.

I don't want to have a moment of enjoying myself.

And also, I used to love Christmas.  I don't want Christmas to be forever marked by grief and pain and loss.  I don't want future Christmases to be an echo of this one.

I guess we're just going to do what it takes to get through the day.  I believe that a viewing of True Grit will be in order.

And as much as I will hate this Christmas, and as sad as I will feel when I wake up on Christmas morning, and as much as I miss my baby girl, I will do my best to remember that there are stories much sadder than mine. 

I will try to remember that one of the reasons I am not Miss Havisham (no matter how much I'd like to be) is because I am surrounded by family and friends who refuse to let me be her.  Who remind me that grief has to be balanced by joy, eventually.  Who say Eliza's name and tell me that we all got robbed.  Who send sympathy cards.  Who make me eat.  Who hug me even if they aren't touchy-feely people.  Who help me grade student essays.  Who tell me that we did not deserve this and it was not my fault. 

My life is really shitty.  But there is still some good in it. 

And that's as close to Christmas as I can get.


  1. "Those who find a way to hope even when hoping seems to be the most terrifying and idiotic thing that we as human beings can possibly do."

    Yet this what makes us human, isn't it? Something devastating happens and eventually we can see through the darkness a tiny spec of something akin to joy. It happens. Eventually.

    The pain will never ever go away but you expand to also make room for other things. Good things

    I'm wishing that these next few days are gentle on you.

  2. Well, I'd say that's pretty $#!$@ good. Do whatever you need to do to get through the day. The early months (hell, the first year) is difficult (that probably feels like the understatement of the year to you right now). I wish it were different and that Eliza were here.

  3. "I don't want to think about a story of peace and hope...My life is really shitty. But there is still some good in it. And that's as close to Christmas as I can get."

    I think there's already some hope in there, friend.

  4. i hated myself for hoping for a long time. over a year later, i'm more able to than i was before, but it still feels like tempting fate to hope for a new outcome. it's so, so hard even just to keep breathing at times.

    i'm so glad you have people looking after you.