October: Loss and Missing Me

An open letter to bereaved parents:

Next week, October 15 – this community’s opportunity to commemorate pregnancy and infant loss – is both deeply personal and absolutely necessary. Remembering our babies is our opportunity to pause in our respective journeys and to consider how we integrate our experiences.

But we don’t need a formal week to reflect on our lost children, do we? We do this all the time. For this reason, I tend to use loss week and loss day as a way to allow myself to stop, cast back and reflect on my own path towards understanding and self-compassion.

Clearly, the lost was my son – first and foremost.  I think about him a lot. A lot.

This month, though, I also remember the loss of who I was. Me.

Once upon a time.

Related: Who Was I Before This Grief?

And so I invite you – mothers and fathers all – to join me. Stop and rest and share. Where are you in your journey? To the recently bereaved, and those who have had children after loss, and those who are the mothers without living children – I send you my love.

There is a simple mental snapshot of the person I once was. That person is a casualty of baby loss.

I remember her.

I remember…I sat with my then two-year-old on my lap. It was an early summer evening, and the dusk promised fireflies. I was pregnant with my son. I did not yet know that I was pregnant. Nor did I know that he would be stillborn – so that our time together would be short.

It was my birthday that night, and someone raised a glass to me. I blew out the candles on a delicious cake. My friend asked me what I wished for. I think I looked around the by-then hastening dusk. There were the sounds of summer – the peepers, and the wind in the new-made leaves in the trees.

I think I was aware of not wanting to be greedy. I had my boy on my lap, a husband who loved me, a house that sheltered me, and friends who came out to spend the evening with me. I remember saying something I believed reflected more humility than it actually did.

I said that I was grateful for what I had, and that I wanted more of the same.

That is what I wished for – more of the same.

The child I was newly pregnant with then would be stillborn.

My life changed.

And that is what I think about also – that loss.

The loss of the person who – without meaning to – made assumptions about the course of things. It seemed so much simpler than it was.

In a certain hard-won way, I am almost proud of who I have become. Of course, I’d give that self-knowledge back if it could change the course of things.  But…I can’t…and so therefore, I won’t.

Related: My Before Friends and After Friends

It’s complicated – but then you all know that.

I want to know how you remember your sweet one – your baby. But I’d also like to know who you were before your loss. And what you miss in that person. Let’s remember her or him too. Please feel free to comment and we’ll form, this month, the connective tissue to call up the muscle memory of loss and of redemption.

 

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

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    Tara Shafer

    Tara Shafer

    Tara Shafer is the co-founder of Reconceiving Loss, an online resource center for people coping with the loss of a pregnancy or an infant. Her blog about baby bereavement, To Begin Again, appears on Psychology Today. She has worked as a human rights and refugee advocate for numerous organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights First. She has taught in the Department of Political Science at Marist College. Her work on loss has appeared in Fifth Wednesday Journal, Yahoo Shine, the Huffington Post, and on National Public Radio. For further information please visit Reconceiving Loss

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    1 Comment

    1. Reply

      Carmen Peskin

      October 10, 2016

      Hi.

      I remember the Me back then. The Me before the four miscarriages, the Me before the fertility doctors and hormone tablets, the Me before the four hospitalisations that left my body all battered and bruised and forever changed.

      The Me before had a whole heart. Warm, loving, open and most of all Whole. Instead today, the Me now has a heart that has been glued together by strength and courage, but will never be the same. Much like a cup that breaks and is glued together, my heart still works, but it is different and will forever be.

      The Me before then enjoyed life, went out and had a good time. The Me before then didn’t think twice before having a glass of red wine. The Me now thinks twice before I touch any kind of alcohol because of what it may be doing to my already depleting ovarian reserve. The Me now will rather be mocked for not having that one drink than to forever have to live with the thought that I might have been the cause of is not having a baby.

      The Me back then looked fondly at pregnant woman and mothers pushing their little ones in their prams. The Me back then was so naiive, so hopeful. The Me back then used to stop and smile and ask “How old is he?”. The Me now wants to ran in the opposite direction as soon as a pregnant woman is in sight. The Me now hates that I envy those woman and sometimes hate them for reminding of me all that I lost and all that I want. The Me now is not so hopeful anymore and may need to reside to the fact that my path to motherhood would be down another road, not the one the Me now so desperately wants.

      The Me back then didn’t for one minute think that this would be her journey. The Me back then didn’t ever think she would be one of those woman that struggled to fall pregnant. The Me back then didn’t ever think she would be one of those woman who would have to say goodbye to a child she loved more than she loved herself before she even met him or her. The Me back then didn’t ever think that she would fall pregnant, have the back pain, the nausea, the constipation, all of that and still leave the hospital without her baby. The Me back then was so arrogant in thinking it would be easy starting a family . The Me now is softer, humbled and wiser. The Me now knows that nothing in life is guaranteed. The Me now knows not to take anything for granted. The Me now hopes and parys that God will send me a miracle I so much want. The Me now takes it one day at a time. The Me now cries for every baby commercial, every cute onesie in the shop, every baby photoshoot spashed over Facebook. The Me now prays that just for one day it wouldn’t be so painful. The Me now hopes for oneday that she isn’t so sad.

      The Me now knows that she will forever grief her angel babies no matter how much time passes. The Me now knows that nothing that anything says or does will ever make loosing my babies less painful or me feel less empty. The Me now knows that just because I’m grieving doesn’t mean that the world stops turning. People’s lives carry on, life carries on. The Me now knows that I must make the best of each day and be grateful for the many blessing I do have.The Me now knows that its okay to be sad one minute and happy the next.

      The Me now if forever changed.

      Thank you for this article xxx

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