Thursday, September 4, 2014

a PSA on my grief

Why is this what there is for me to write about? Why does this have to touch EVERY little aspect of my life? I often feel I’m stuck in a Groundhog Day-like replay of tragic realities. Each morning when I wake up I’m reminded that I’m not pregnant, that I’ve lost not one but two babies, that my junk room is still a junk room and has never been a nursery.

You cannot possibly know how I’m feeling or what I’m needing at any given minute. I can’t expect you to say the right things or do the right things at all the right times. We’re both in tough positions. Navigating what to say and where to go from here is uncomfortable and painful for me, too. I wrote about how to help a grieving a friend after I lost John, but some of my own suggestions don’t apply to where I’m at in my current grief.

Yeah. It’s complicated.

Here’s what you need to know:

I don’t really know how to tell you how I’m doing. (This is how I’m doing.) I don’t know how to tell you how Andy’s doing. All I know is that we’re sad and angry on the inside but that we are trying to make life as tolerable as possible for one another. One minute we might be doubled-over laughing and the next minute I might be ugly crying. I believe there were three days in August that were free of tears. August was a miserable month.

I can’t be in charge of keeping our friendship afloat. I am often the person who pursues, who keeps conversations going. I can’t do that right now. If you could see inside my head you would be all, giiiiirl, let me get you some chocolate and a pillow. Cut me a LOT of slack, and step up! I need you more than ever.

Most social situations give me anxiety right now. Getting me to come to any event might be like pulling teeth. Don’t take offense—even being around my own family is difficult for me sometimes. I think I look normal and functional on the outside, but on the inside my brain is screaming my babies are dead! I hate my life! It’s exhausting being me right now.

Yes, I know therapy is an option. Yes, I’ve thought about it. Right now that’s all I want to discuss on that topic. (It’s not that I’m resistant to therapy. I’m just resistant to talking about it. Again, cut me some slack.)

And since I’m already on a roll here… I really don’t like being asked what “my plan” is. I don’t feel capable of forming a plan right now. My basic plan is to get through each day.

I know. This is a lot to take in. Blog readers be like wut.

(Notice I’ve used the phrase “right now” five times. I don’t know how long it will take for these feelings and frustrations to fade, but I know some day it won’t be quite as hard as it is right now.)

Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death. We misconstrue the nature of even those few days or weeks. We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect the shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe that their husband is about to return and need his shoes. In the version of grief we imagine, the model will be "healing." A certain forward movement will prevail. The worst days will be the earliest days. We imagine that the moment to most severely test us will be the funeral, after which this hypothetical healing will take place. When we anticipate the funeral we wonder about failing to "get through it," rise to the occasion, exhibit the "strength" that invariably gets mentioned as the correct response to death. We anticipate needing to steel ourselves the for the moment: will I be able to greet people, will I be able to leave the scene, will I be able even to get dressed that day? We have no way of knowing that this will not be the issue. We have no way of knowing that the funeral itself will be anodyne, a kind of narcotic regression in which we are wrapped in the care of others and the gravity and meaning of the occasion. Nor can we know ahead of the fact (and here lies the heart of the difference between grief was we imagine it and grief as it is) the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself.” 
― Joan Didion, "The Year of Magical Thinking"


  1. Thank you for your honesty (and even humor) in the midst of your pain and grief! Thank you for pulling back the curtain so that we can see a glimpse of what you are going through. We Reids love you guys like crazy and wish we were there to hug you more!

  2. For number two of knowing things, I know there is nothing I can do and we are in a sensitive/awkward situation so I am sorry when I dont step up more. I think sometimes I feel like "well I dont want to make it worse".
    With that said though, want to come over tonight? I havent emailed this week about getting together because mom is here again today and tomorrow (major deliverable coming up) but Micah is playing tennis at 8 and so her and I are going to watch a movie. You could wear pajamas...

  3. Love you sweet friend! Appreciate your honesty and that you don't just pretend everything's fine when it's not. We'll talk soon!

  4. I've been trying to find a gif of someone giving someone else a big giant bear hug but apparently when you do that on a work computer, all sorts of virus warnings pop up and you end up having to shut your computer down and now I'm probably on some 'watch list' somewhere. So instead, here's a video of a goat bouncing from room to room. I think about you often and send lots of hugs.

  5. I love you. Period. Just be.

  6. Laura - I'm Rachel's friend Katie. You helped me so much through my miscarriage and through my healing by your openness on your blog. I have prayed and ached for you so many times, I can't even count. It is amazing how God can use the worst, suckiest moments of our life to bring healing to another person. You have touched me on so many levels. During my second pregnancy, you were facing your second loss - and oh how I cried for you. I have been so angry with God and thankful all wrapped up in one. I hold my child during the midnight feedings and I pray for you by name. I pray for your children who are now with our Lord. I pray for you - for your heart. I pray that you will have friends in your life that are strong enough to tackle the awkwardness of grief. That you have time to grieve for as long as you need. As a mother though, you will always grieve. You will always carry those sweet children with you. They will always be a part of you. Sweet John and Jane. I look forward to the day you will be reunited with them, but for now sweet friend - I just want you to know I have never stopped thinking or praying for you. Thank you for your openness, your rawness. You have helped me feel like I am not alone or crazy or bitter - but that I am a mother who lost her child. And I have been praying for God to use me in ways like He is using you. I hope this is an encouragement to you in any small way. I think of you and I pray for you, and they are ugly prayers. But God is so much bigger than our anger and grief and I'm so glad for that. I don't know why I get to hold my second child in my arms and you did not. I don't know why these horrible things happen. But I know that God is so in love with you. Just know you have made a difference in my life and I just wanted to reach out to you and say how utterly sorry I am that you are going through this. Love, Katie


thanks for reading!