The opposites of grief.

Woven inside and outside of everything that resides inside a busy family and bringing up a new baby and time passing by I’m aware, if less vocal, about some of the intangibles of grief.

For so long I was racked and grazed by the contradictions of loss, of having a child but not having him, of being a mother of 5 but 4 or of 6 but 5. I was confused by having a baby who was always a baby but who grew in ghost form alongside us, flitting past me in the shapes of children in the shops or my nephew or plans I had made for him alongside us. I tripped over phrases and words and concepts and each one had to be rehashed, brushing my flesh and breaking the skin as I pushed them and pressed those square peg thoughts into round peg life holes.

It felt like my whole life would be centred around having lost Freddie, that all those complexities would ever grate at my skin and snipe at my state of mind, my mental health, my well being of soul.

When Ben came home, those feelings crescendoed to a sharpened point.

“I wish we could have both,” I whispered, though I knew it was ungrateful not to be contented to have tripped the light fantastic and cheated chance and come home not only with a healthy, living breathing baby but with a boy too. Churlish to wish for him to be identical in looks to Freddie, or be both of them. And Max, normally stoical, whispered “Yes. Me too.”

Whether it is a new and sweetened bitter in the form of fresh denial, or healing, or disbelief at my shallowness, or mindful non-evaluation of reality, I have morphed into a person that astounds me. When reminded that 18 months ago I could not bear to even tweet with the mothers of small boys, it now seems amazing to me I was ever so very broken, so fragile, so endlessly bereft. I hear myself say to the newly baby lost that it will not always hurt so sweetly as it does now and I remember knowing these were mixed words to hear and yet I have to remind myself to be tolerant, to be gentle, to be mindful that my journey is not their journey and their path is just begun.

I went hardened on the outside sometime after the rawness was past but it seems the scar tissue is more softened that I expected it to get. So much so, that even though I *know* this pain, I could get it wrong now, not right. I don’t feel like the right person to say the right words, I don’t even feel like I have all the empathy required to heal or help. I thought myself profoundly changed, but I wonder if I’m not still the occasionally crass person I always was.

I’d like to have been more changed than that. I’d prefer to be better for the experience.

I told my sister today, watching her almost 2 year old son bumbling around, that I am unable to compute that I should have a boy that age. Freddie, in all his growing ages, was real to me until Ben overtook him. They are jumbled and confused and Ben has slipped into the place that shadow boy held and now I am sliding on the edges of something new. I just find it impossible that we went from despair and fear to joy so simply. I just cannot forge the link between my last year self and this moment self. They do not compute.

I made my sister cry and, horribly, having made her cry with the death – the still death but now so much less believable death – of my son, I had no idea what to say. How I can have come through all this and be the one to have no idea what to say, I have no idea. How I can have come through all this and be the one who can’t really imagine my boy as he should be, be the one to whom he is the least tangible, I have no idea.

The little boy should have a big brother as well as a big boy cousin – and I simply cannot make the jump.

When I say it out loud like that, I must admit is doesn’t sound a lot like healed to me either.

I would like to be at the end of this path. I’d like to have done, be past, reached acceptance and understanding and have my completion certificate, my rolled up ribbon passing grade, my photo album and move on. A sudden realisation that I’m currently in another stage of grief – and that it is neither a laudable nor a beautiful one, is not a welcome feeling.

 

  10 comments for “The opposites of grief.

  1. June 7, 2012 at 8:14 am

    It’s all stages I think, all different, I think that’s how it’s always going to be? I’ve longed for the acceptance, the passing grade, for a future me, all dignified in grief, but I’m now pretty certain that will never come.
    Maybe there is dignity in accepting that?
    I just don’t know.
    It’s hard to live this life of contradictions, of missing, but of still being so full of joy.
    I’ve sat with friends who have cried, and I’ve been lost for words, and thoughts and tears, it’s uncomfortable and I’ve felt hard, does grief do that to us? I guess so.
    x

  2. June 7, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    I miscarried (and then gave birth to) twin girls at 21 1/2 weeks. I never even held them. They never even lived. But I always carry with me the calculation that I should now have twin daughters aged 4 1/2, without any idea of what they would look like or who they would be. I imagine them playing with DD (aged 3 1/2) knowing that, had they survived I would not have gone on to have DD. I wish I could have both and all of them but I would never even have wanted to try for DD had things been different. It’s complicated and illogical but the bottom line is that I’ve given birth to 3 and only have 1. I understand you completely. Time does heal to some extent but you never forget that there is/are someone(s) missing from your family.

  3. June 7, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    I have no right to comment, I know nothing about this, but… Ben does have a big brother and so he should have his big brother with him, in some ways it is as simple as that. And you should have both your sons, not to have Freddie is just wrong whichever way you look at it. The idea that if one child had not died another would not have been born seems to me to be less of a reality than the unquestionable fact that you have two sons and they should both be with you. (((Hugs)))

  4. June 8, 2012 at 2:10 am

    That last paragraph hit me hard… A close friend of mine’s son was stillborn four months before my son was born and died. She’s recently told me she’s pregnant again, and I had a sudden realisation that there is no end to this path – we will all walk it for the rest of our lives. It might get less rocky at times, but there is always another mountain looming ahead. I don’t think we ever heal, we just scab over.. Thinking of you.

  5. June 8, 2012 at 3:38 am

    Such beautiful words… your love for all your children sings through and brought tears to my eyes. It’s hard to watch our kids and think of those that are missing… as grief changes, so do we… with you on this journey always xoxo

  6. June 8, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    “Whether it is a new and sweetened bitter in the form of fresh denial, or healing, or disbelief at my shallowness, or mindful non-evaluation of reality, I have morphed into a person that astounds me. ”

    I astound me too. Some days, I can’t believe I am this person who the newly bereaved contact, or the person who counsels friends of friends who have had a baby die. And I say all the bullshit type things the seasoned grievers used to say back to me, way back when. Things about time and healing and accepting and living a new normal And I wouldn’t believe them. I didn’t want to believe them. I enjoyed the agony of it in those early days, I think. Though I didn’t realise it at the time. I both love and hate time. I love that it has brought me to this lovely place, but I hate how far it has taken me from her and how distant she’s starting to feel.

    xo

  7. June 8, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    “I would like to be at the end of this path. I’d like to have done, be past, reached acceptance and understanding and have my completion certificate, my rolled up ribbon passing grade, my photo album and move on.”

    Totally second that. I want a diploma in dead-baby-survival and the knowledge that everything is just the way it should be. Seems like I won’t get that… so I have to make do with what I have. Wishing both your boys could be by your side.

  8. June 8, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    am here

    just wanted you to know

    xxxx

  9. Stephanie
    June 8, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    I just happened on your website as I prepare to begin homeschooling my 2nd grader in America. I was not expecting to find someone that I could relate to and that can articulate so much of what I feel…when I was 7 months pregnant with our little Oliver (6months old now) our two year old Charlie passed away very unexpectedly. It’s a sort of gut-wrenching feeling to hold a precious, beautiful baby (that looks so much like his brother did!) and feel so much joy and so much sorrow all at the same time. Thank you so much for expressing your grief and sharing it. Oh, and thanks for all of that other homeschooling stuff, too :)

  10. June 11, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Ah, not sure just what to say other than “YES”. To so much of this.

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