Sunday, December 18, 2005

More curious words

Hang in there

Take care of yourself

For what? There will be no day when my son is here and it will be all right. Why don't people understand that this just simply doesn't "get better?" Yes, there are hours and days where I can effectively cope with my life with the missing piece. And yes, there are times when, God help me, I actually forget. But those times aren't necessarily *good* because they are followed by the inevitable crash of reality. The feeling of what should much sweeter those happy moments would have been with our Alex with incomplete the moments are even when we have enjoyed them.

I do have *good* times. But it seems the longer the *good* times stretch out, the stronger is the force of impact with reality. One good hour isn't so bad. One good day usually leaves me sobbing telling when or where. I could be at work, in my car, at the grocery store, or home (my preferred place) when the real feelings of loss hit me hard.

So what do I do to handle it? Nothing. I hide. In that way, and too many others to mention, I am a coward. I want to be alone and I want to be left alone (apologies to Garbo). Actually, I want people to ask about me, but not expect anything from me. To borrow a phrase from someone I know, "I don't wanna." It's not as if hiding gets me anywhere...and I know this. But it feels like I need to do things in my time, in my own way.

Today I was transferring the last of the digital pictures from the old computer to the new one (soon to be burned onto CDs) and I stumbled across all those Alex-related positive pregnancy test, my pregnant belly, us painting Alex's room. Those pictures literally take my breath away. I have to sit down and remember to breathe when I see them. Even when I deliberately look at them, they have the same physical effect on me. I think it's because there really is very little to acknowledge that Alex truly existed. I have my fading memories and a few physical remembrances here and there...but not much else.

I look at my body and see the remains of a second pregnancy (the belly...the stretch marks)...but it all seems so though it happened a lifetime though it actually happened to someone else. I guess that's supposed to be a good day? To feel disconnected enough to function? To remember and forget at the same time?

Someone told me I shouldn't feel guilty for having good days. And truth be told, I don't feel guilty. I feel afraid. I'm afraid of the good days because they are counterbalanced with the real days...the ones that are ALWAYS going to be there...the days without our Alex.


Sweet Coalminer said...

I know they're painful, but I'm so glad you have those pictures.

Heather said...

You know, I have said "Hang in there" to you more times than I can remember. I am sorry. I think it is because although I know you will never the same, the pain will never disappear completely-- I do believe it will fade a bit. I have never told you this, but my MIL lost two babies . Of course, it was 30 years ago so they don't know what went wrong. The babies are buried in the cemetary beside my FIL's parents. When I found out about you losing Alex, I talked with her about it. She told me that for her, the pain never really went away, and although she misses what could have been--the sadness doesn't overwhelm her every move like it did once.

When I miscarried, my heart was broken. I cried for months. I swore if one more person said, "Be thankful for what you *do* have," "You will have other babies,", or "There is a reason for everything" I would lose my mind. For longer than I care to admit, I just didn't have the ambition to do anything. I couldn't take care of the kids, the house, anything. I was just paralyzed with sadness. Now, when I think about it, I realize that weeks have gone by since I have thought about it last. I remember how bad things were and I wonder how much worse things are for you and your family. I know it seems impossible, but things will get better. Take everything at your own pace.

Sorry for the book. I hope I didn't make you feel worse. I promise I won't ever say "Hang in there again."

Love you.

holley said...

I guess "hang in there" is the only piece of advice people can think of at the time. Maybe it's the equivalent of "don't give up on yourself" or "don't be too hard on yourself." Maybe it just means that at some point in the future, the person saying it hopes that you will not feel the pain as brutally as you currently do. I'm sure I've said it to you at some point. I'm sorry that it bothers you but then again I still think it is a far cry better than, "this is part of God's big plan."

"Take care of yourself." I say it to people because it is all to easy to get lost in grief and forget about basic things like brushing teeth, showering, eating, etc. Also, it is kind of carte blanche to say, "feel what you have to feel, say what you have to say, do what is necessary and don't worry about people who don't understand what you are going through."

Of course I realize that there could be a hundred different interpretations of these phrases.

I guess I would define a good day as one in which you remember but don't feel overwhelmed with the grief and pain. The unreal days are just foggy.

Dana said...

I say both, "hang in there" and "take care of yourself" all the time. I am also sorry if I have ever said either one to you and you were bothered by them.

I can assure you that I never say either one as just something to say. I use "hang in there," as a kind of *hug* I can't give you in person. Kind of like, I know you're hurting and I'm sorry. Try to hang in there...

As far as "take care of yourself" goes, Holley couldn't have said it better. I use that phrase when I want someone to know I care about them and although I know they are hurting, try not to forget to "take care of yourself."

I think sometimes it's hard to know exactly what to say to someone who is hurting. Especially when you have no idea what they are going through. While I can imagine how difficult it is to lose your child (and what you emailed me once certainly helped me to understand to some degree) the truth is, I have never lost a child like you have. I don't always know what you need and/or want to hear. I do know, that I care for you a great deal and I *try* (I may not always be successful, but I try) to say things that I hope may bring you at least *some* amount of comfort and/or at least let you know that I am thinking of you and that I care.

I now realize that just because something may make me feel better doesn't necessairly mean it's going to make you (or anyone else) feel better. I guess Ijust never thought about it like that before. : \

In any case, I am sorry you are hurting Kate.


Windfall Woman said...

I wish I could make your pain easier to bear.

Bethany said...

I have, in the past, always thought that saying, "take care of yourself," was being supportive without implying that 1) I can make it better or 2) It will get better quickly. It was just my way of saying, "I know you are hurting and I'm sorry that you are hurting." But, as you say, it might not be appropriate. Tell me, what else can I say to be supportive? Honestly, I am looking for suggestions.

Catherine said...

How about, "I know you are hurting and I'm sorry" or "I know I can't make it better, but is there anything I can do to help"? Exactly what you just said...honest and truthful...without implying that it's going to get better at all.