*This was originally written solely about miscarriage, but this past week Himself’s people suddenly and tragically lost one of their own. We are reeling, and I know it’s nothing compared to what the surviving spouse and children are going through. There are simply no words, no actions. As we discussed what we should/could do I was thinking about the words I had written, how futile our gestures can be and yet how necessary they are, because nothing can make this situation better but we have to try.
There are two days of the year that I cease, as much as possible, to be the mother of my three living children. On those two days I am only his mother, and I remember him-as much or as little as I can handle-throughout the day.
This isn’t something I’ve really shared before, because I don’t know how people close to me would handle it and if they were at all negative there would be words. And I think that’s why, in our culture at least, we don’t talk about miscarriage much. People simply don’t know how to handle it, and those who’ve been through it don’t want well-meaning people to trample/dig up their own emotions and experiences.
But that doesn’t help those who are currently going through it. So what the hell.
My name is Rebecca, and I had a miscarriage. His name is Cayden. I held him for a few minutes-I even have pictures, although I still can’t look at them. His burial day, February 22nd, and Mother’s Day are the two days of the year I allow myself to fully grieve. I have other children, other responsibilities, and this is how I manage and have managed to stay sane.
If you are going through a similar experience, or have in the past, please know that any way you choose to grieve or remember is ok (not self-harm, though, seek help RIGHT AWAY). At this point-and at any point, really-you don’t need to worry about how your words or actions might make someone else uncomfortable. They’re not the ones going through this-you are-and you need to be doing what you need to do to get through.
And if you know someone who has experienced a loss, please don’t -just- say meaningless platitudes (unless they want them, I’m speaking from my own experience here and I wanted to punch anyone who said them). Don’t tell them it was God’s plan or that He has a plan, because this isn’t His plan. Tell them He loves them, sure, but then stick around to help deal with the aftermath because I know I didn’t feel loved and I didn’t want to hear it then. Don’t tell them they went to a better place, because there isn’t a better place. Sure, my daughter told me that Jesus’ mama was taking care of Cayden, and I’m sure she’s doing a bang-up job, but that will always be second-best. Don’t tell them there will be other children, because that will not in any way erase the grief and it places an enormous burden on those children, to be the panacea for their parents.
Instead, tell them you’re sorry, that it sucks. Yell at God with them, or at the Universe if they don’t believe in God. Bring them coffee or tea or booze, whatever will help the most. Listen, don’t talk, talk if they need you to. Don’t tell them you had a similar experience unless you too have lost a child and then yes, tell them how you survived, because they need to know. And once the initial grief, the kind that overwhelms, has been replaced with a steadier, never-will-go-away grief, you can ask how they’d like the child to be remembered. How they’d like to be treated. Pretend it never happened? Celebrate the birthday? Deathday (mine, inspired by Harry Potter)? Go with it. They’re doing what they need to do to survive. It may not look like grief to you, it may seem irreverent, it may seem aloof, whatever. Everyone deals with grief differently and it’s not wrong.
I, for instance, have no reverence for death anymore. I crack jokes when I shouldn’t, I find humor at the graveside. I’m careful, of course, I’m not going to unleash my weirdness on people who’ve just lost someone, but it’s something I need to do. It helps. If I make fun of death it’s not so scary.
And if you’re a Christ-follower***, always remember that death merely separates us for a time, that we will be reunited one day, that he has redeemed what sin wrought. It has no sway, or shouldn’t, although in the aftermath of a loss it sure feels like it does. I recommend reading Henri Nouwen’s “Turn My Mourning Into Dancing”. And as I write that, please know that I know these words won’t help right away. It helps me now, now that I’ve had time to come to terms, but during the months following his death I couldn’t really even speak to Him. I was too angry, too shell shocked, too grieved. And He knew that, and I knew that He knew, and that I would come back when I was able. And I did.
And I don’t really know how to end this one. Maybe because it isn’t over, will never be completely over. And that’s as it should be, because those we lose are forever a part of us.
***I want to be very careful here. While I will unabashedly say my source of hope is Christ I do not want in any way to insult those who do not believe or believe differently. Your grief is not less, your need for hope and solace is the same, and I grieve with you.
*****This post may seem like it came out of nowhere, given that both of my grieving days are long past, but I encountered triggers recently and I felt the need to share my thoughts on the matter, just in case it helps someone.
*Reading these words again in the aftermath of our grief … I almost can’t do it. I remember how I was at my son’s funeral, I’m remembering it right now. The suddenness is simply not fair, and it reminds me of how very fragile life can be, and that’s scary. Not because I’m afraid of what comes next, I know what waits for me and my loved ones, but because of the devastation left behind. You can know with absolute certainty that you will see your loved one again and it doesn’t help, not right then, because you want them now, you want them with you. And right now, right now the ones most affected are not even at the hardest part. The hardest part is when everyone goes home, because they have to, they have to continue their own story, and you have to stumble around the shards that were once your life, trying to assemble pieces that will never again fit together.
What We’re Into:
I wasn’t sure whether or not I should introduce this feature today. It seems too happy. But then I found myself scouring the interwebs for articles on grief, death and dying and decided I’d share those, because that’s truly what I’ve been doing. Some of these aren’t recent but the words resonated with me, although please don’t read them if you currently need to avoid any triggers.
-This post by Visual Blessings actually is recent and I found it incredibly apropos. Also, her work is truly beautiful and worth a look.
-This post from XOJane (or is it xojane?) I found to be perfect. The author doesn’t mince words, and sometimes that’s what we need.
-I’ve been listening to music from Instrumental Core, specifically the album Angels Among Demons (affiliate link below).
It had just the right touch of pathos, the soaring instrumentals and vocals, for this week. I’ve got it on repeat (fortunately my kids don’t seem to mind). This is the Facebook page.
And on a lighter note, I was so happy to read this article on the resurgence of independent bookstores. I have no issues with technology-I own two Nooks and Himself liberally uses his Kindle app-but when I’m in serious book mode I need the physical copy. For those of you who are considering publishing your writing, Himself came across this post and we both found it helpfully informative.
And that’s it. This weekend we go to honor the departed. Any prayers and well-wishes are very welcome, especially for the spouse and children, but also for the parents and siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins and numerous friends who are now mourning.