Day #28: Memories of Grief
Today is a day devoted to sharing my memories of grief, the bad and the good. I often try to remind myself that each individual deals with grief in their own way. Some people are aware of others pain while some are so deeply into theirs they are unable to see those around them. Grief is always there even when I smile or say everything is okay. Grief is but a song, picture, or word away and tears are often fought back to hide it. I am a very private griever. Throughout my childhood I have been taught that it isn’t okay to express how you feel especially when others don’t feel or believe the same as you. I was taught that you reap what you sow…and during my daughters life and death, I was reminded several times that. Many times I felt as though this was somehow my fault. From 2 of our 4 sets of parents accusations that vaccinating my child caused this to the comments about allowing our children to resume daycare at the same location, I was left to feel very alone.
Today I will begin with some of the bad memories that have profoundly impacted me. These things have left me with a silent grief that until now I have rarely shared with anyone. I hope being able to share them will allow me to heal from the wounds that, even today, feel so fresh and bring tears to my eyes as I write this.
I live life to be a giving person. I want others to be happy. When I found out I was pregnant I wanted family to be involved. Who doesn’t right? We have family that were unable to conceive a child and when they asked for the opportunity to be there for the birth of Clara I said yes. Witnessing the birth of any child is such an amazing thing, the feelings that are there are not reproducible in any other way. I quickly realized that something was terribly wrong when Grandma stepped in to hold “her baby” before me (the exact words were “Let me hold my baby” as she tried to take Clara out of Daddy’s arms minutes after she was born). As we were getting ready to move to our room, Grandma kindly offered to get some food since the hospital thought it would be about an hour before they could get some food located. I quickly said yes please since it had been 36 hours since my last meal. An hour and a half later they came back with a sandwich. When Chris asked what had taken so long she responded, “We went to have a steak dinner to celebrate the birth of our baby Clara.”
Clara’s death didn’t ease the growing tension. My grief seemed to take a backseat to hers. While sharing my last moments with Clara in the ER people started to hear the news and came to support us. I sat in a rocking chair holding my little girl for the last time and wishing that this was just a dream. While I sat there rocking Clara she came in, walked over, and took my baby out of my arms… without speaking a word. She walked over to her son, who was on the other side of the room, and hugged him and rocked Clara. I was in shock! After 15 minutes I actually had to ask for Clara back. We finally had to ask for privacy so that Chris and I could sit together and hold Clara one last time together, sing her favorite song, and kiss her goodbye.
The wake and funeral weren’t much better. I was told what music wouldn’t be played at “her” babies funeral, everytime someone hugged Chris or I she started bawling loudly as to get attention, and my own mother brought up how SIDS in Japan is so low because they don’t immunize babies until they are over a year. I think the thing that affected me most, however, was the wake. We were not the ones standing/sitting by Clara…no we were halfway down the long line of hugs, thanking everyone for their support, crying, and watching as the same set of grandparents stood at Clara’s casket hugging their friends and crying out how unfair it was that “their baby” was dead. It was at that point I realized my grief had taken a backseat to theirs. I should have listened to the friends and family who came over and asked it we wanted to have them talk to these grandparents and ask them to sit down or excuse themselves for a few minutes. At that point I was telling myself and others that everyone grieves differently. I had no idea how greatly that image would impact my own grief.
After the funeral there was the task of sorting and dividing out the beautiful flowers others had given in Clara’s memory. This too was quite the production. Remember a few days ago I said how the flowers were a reminder of Clara and how hard it was to throw the dead ones away? Same goes for giving them away too. I will never forget the argument that ensued when someone didn’t get the flowers that were sent for her in memory of “her” baby! I guess I assumed that these flowers were sent in memory of Clara and that since Chris and I were parents, we could choose the ones we kept and offer the rest to family and friends. I felt like someone had knocked my legs out from under me. Not only is my child dead but someone is more worried about what flowers were “theirs” rather than allowing the me to at least choose the ones I wanted to take home. Again my baby was someone else’s, my grief took a backseat to someone elses.
I can’t even begin to describe how alone I felt…
I didn’t think I could feel anymore lost until I was told that “Sometimes, when we get off God’s path, He has to do something drastic to bring you back. You let someone else take over your life and raising your child. Now you suffer the consequences.” In the next breath I was then told “We think God didn’t have anything for us to learn from Clara’s life and passing. God did this so that your eyes would open and you could see the problems you created and now you have on your hands.” NO ONE has the right to say something like this.
I am not sure if I will ever be far from the grief of losing Clara. I also don’t know if how long it will take to heal from the wounds and grief I feel from those around me. I have grown to know that I can help others even when I am in such grief that I don’t think, I myself, am going to make it. I know that helping others deal with grief helps me deal with my own. I also know that I have the most supportive husband in the world who will move mountains to help me not feel so sad, hurt, and discouraged. The whole journey has solidified my reliance on God and being able to freely have someone to listen even if I never hear a word back or see any changes. I thankful for and love those who shared the walk with us, even those who sometimes walked on their own sidewalk across the street from us. 😉
Good memories of the grief journey are harder to come by…
I have so many good memories of the time we had with Clara and I try to focus on those memories to block out the painful ones of her death. But there have been a few positive things that have happened during our journey after Clara’s death. Damon and Mason are well adjusted boys who know just when to say the right things to make us proud. They share some of their stories of Clara or the funeral with us and we are blessed to have that. We also have a wonderful, loving daycare provider and family who have become family to us. Our relationship with them is one of trust, love, and understanding.
After a parent loses a child they are left with such heavy, empty arms…and a lot of love to give.
There are also 2 almost 3 new faces of hope from our journey. Their names are Lincoln, Preston, and our soon to be announced new baby. After Clara was born we knew we were done having kids. Chris and I had a complete family of 5. We were so in love and our boys were so happy. Shortly after Clara passed away we realized that we had so much love to give. Were we selfish to not offer it to more children? Were we trying to replace Clara? Is this normal to feel this way?? We talked about it several times before we knew that we were not increasing our family to replace her.
Almost 11 months after Clara passed away we were blessed with the birth of Lincoln. A boy! We were relieved and yet sad. For us the opposite gender is just what we needed. Lincoln has kept us busy and has taught us what it means to trust again. When he was just 5 months old he was diagnosed with “PELVIS Syndrome” and possibly would have lifelong medical issues. During that time we also found out Preston was on his way too. Preston was born just 26 months after Clara passed. Preston is so laid back and reminds us very much of Clara. We did say we had love to share right?!?! Well now we will add another face to the family March 2013. With each new baby comes a flood of emotions as each one smiles, walks, talks, or hits other milestones. I am sad for what I missed with Clara but fortunate to have the opportunity to see another child hit them.
We have again decided that our family will be as complete as it can be on earth. We are happy to be raising 4 soon to be 5 children and are ready to share our love with the 5 kids we hold hands with everyday.