Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Defense of More of the Same

I'm struggling with how to share my life with the cyberworld.

When we lost Katherine, people we had known for years began sharing their own stories of loss. They cried with us, revealing their own pain over the years. They wrote letters detailing their own darkness.

And it has made me think why we don't have more opportunities to be transparent. Here I've known them for a while, to varying depths, and they've been keeping this hidden.

I think I can understand what happened, though. It's twofold.

There comes a time when people around are tired of hearing, are thinking it's time to be over the pain. I suspect these reactions are from those who haven't experienced a close loss. They are the ones trying to get us to some future state.

I'm not saying I've encountered much of this, but I'm sensitive to the potential, and so I'm just as likely to keep my own counsel as I am to bring up some emotional experience.

Also, I think we deserve some of the blame. We fear they don't want to hear about more of the same and we don't give ourselves the opportunity to take the time needed to heal. Or we don't give our friends the credit that they do want us to be honest with them.

In this, I realize I'm ignoring the fact that we don't often open up and share the most pivotal moments of our life with those around us every day, for whatever reasons.

So I guess the conclusion I'm coming to is that I will try to be authentic. Sometimes all I have in me to write about is what we're experiencing in the aftermath, and other times I might return to what I'm knitting or my love of coffee. I'm still balancing how much detail to go into and what I should just keep private in my own writings. But much of life is finding a balance.

So I'll share two stories, the first shocked me, and the second was a comfort.

It's customary that when a child is born to someone in our department, a birth notice is posted around the building. This happened for Katherine, but they were promptly pulled a week later. An email wasn't sent, but the word spread throughout most of the building that we had lost our daughter.

However, a couple weeks back I was in a common room at work when another employee, grabbing some coffee, asked me, "How's your little one?" This is someone I've rarely talked to and don't often see, so I was surprised that those were the words that came out of his mouth. He hung his head and froze when I told him she had died in August, and then I retreated to my office. I assumed I had broken the news to the last person, so this revelation six months later caught me off-guard. I took a couple deep breaths, but I couldn't still the shaking until I cried it out. I remained jittery for much of the day.

On the final note, over Christmas a friend's father shared that his parents had lost their firstborn, a daughter. He said that while he had never met his older sister, he felt that she was a part of the family growing up. I hope for the same with us. I'm not sure how this is implemented, but I'm grateful for the photos and reminders we have around us, and I know those will play a role.


Snot Head said...

I completely agree with you. I struggled immensely after my mom died, going on 18 months ago. I felt as though my best friends would eventually want to stop hearing about my mom as would my co-workers. Eventually, I stopped talking about her and became completely introverted with all my sadness and pain. That didn't help me at all. I too ran into those people that I rarely spoke to. One day, I was in the gym a few months after my mom had passed, and a woman she had worked with a few years prior saw me and asked me how my mom was. My jaw just dropped. One of my best friends was with me. I was on the treadmill to the right, then my friend, and then this woman. I had to tell her that my mom died unexpectedly. She was so shocked that her first response was something like, "Your joking!" My friend was so angry with this woman, but I didn't blame her. It is never easy, but there are lots of days that I am completely open and vulnerable with my fellow bloggers. Some days, all I can do is be sad, so that is what I blog about. I view my blog as a place for me to vent, and if someone doesn't feel like it is pretty enough, they don't have to read my blog. It is unfair to inhibit yourself from expressing those emotions. No one that cares about you should be expecting you to always blog about happy things like knitting/crocheting and your love of coffee. I certainly don't expect that from you, even though I don't know you. You keep your head up when you can, but don't deny yourself the time to be sad when you need to be either. There is no shame in feeling the pain of a loss, and you certainly can't expect it to go away no matter how much time has lapsed. In case you ever just want to vent to an ubiased source, my e-mail is Good luck! Blog to your heart's desire. :)

Carly said...

I do appreciate your honesty on this blog and often am in awe that you can piece together your thoughts in such a beautiful way. Thanks.

I often worry that you (or others) view me as shallow or thoughtless. When the truth is, I cannot start to comprehend the loss and pain you have endured. So I choose to support you with silence to avoid sounding insensitive or give you a false sense of condolence. It breaks my heart to see friends grieve as you have - and I feel guilt for being lucky as to not experience this degree of loss. I am amazed at people's resilience and often wonder if I could be so strong in the same situation. *hugs*

Dr. aWoW said...

I think I speak for all of the Knitting group, at least, when I say that we will never tire of hearing more of the same. We've been with you on this whole journey, and we're grieving too, so we're together with you in the process of healing.

I did love the story about the brother feeling his sister was a part of the family, and am I happy you found comfort in it. It's kind of analogous, but obviously much more extreme, to living abroad. I'm away from my brothers and I miss them, but I'll see them again, and we're never not family in the meantime.

Miss you xxx

Faith said...

Snot Head, thanks for your comments. I don't expect anyone other than a small number of friends or family to read, so I'm humbled when someone I've never met stumbles upon my blog and stays with me. Thanks for sharing your experiences with me. Many of the feelings of loss are universal, and I think that reminder can make it easier. It's comforting to connect with others who can relate.

Carly, I certainly don't think of you as shallow OR thoughtless. I know you're there if I need you, and you have done what I've needed most -- acted normally. I know I can be myself, whether emotional or feeling fine, and you're fine with me. It was hard when I encountered those that acted awkward and uncomfortable around me, without them wanting to talk about the obvious. But I haven't ever felt that from you.

Dr. aWoW, I miss you too! And I agree that the knitters have been so amazing. I was especially touched how you've been transparent about you mourning along with us and the tears we shared. It's meant a lot.

Momma B said...

My sister, reads your blog and was telling me about it just this evening. I am sad to say that I can not even read your blog, because I can not allow myself inside of the pain that you are feeling, but I can say that you should never ever be concerned that people will grow tired of hearing of your pain, plight, or otherwise! I am here to tell you that within 3 years and 3 months, I lost my 3 month old niece, my dad and my mom. The only thing I had to hold onto some days was the fact that my friends never shut me out. Even when I wanted to shut them out, they were still there to make sure the shell that I was quickly becoming, still had some sort of spirit inside. I know that sometimes it seems like noone wants to know what you are going through, but a good friend will listen until they are falling asleep with the phone on their ear, if that is what you need. A good friend will always be there for you, because that is what you need. And, your blog audience will not turn you away, because it is always all too possible that they may need to bend your ear some day. Sometimes, sooner than they think.

If I can ever get the courage to read your story, I will promise to listen as many times as you need to get it out. I certainly appreciate that kind of friendship.

I am sorry that you have had to endure so much sadness.

madalyn said...

I've started reading your blog now that we're getting to know each other through the South Bend Knitworks group. I'm afraid I don't have any profound thoughts or comforting words to say, but I'm glad to know more about you - even the sad parts. I hope my reading your blog doesn't feel like an intrusion, since we really don't know much about each other yet.

Faith said...

Momma B, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I understand why you can't read what I've written, but I appreciate your visit to comment.

Madalyn, I don't mind you reading my blog at all. While it's sometimes more assuring to imagine no one reading it, I'll only put online what I'm comfortable sharing with those I know. While we don't know each other very well, I've enjoyed getting to know you and this experience of mine would have come to light at some point.