Relationships- August/September blog hop for Faces of Loss, Faces of HopeSunday, August 14, 2011
This entry is for Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope’s blog hop. The subject is “relationships.”
I sit, mulling this over in my head. What to write about relationships, in reference to baby loss?
I looked relationship up in the dictionary, and found these definitions:
1. connection: a significant connection or similarity between two or more things, or the state of being related to something else
2. behavior or feelings toward somebody else: the connection between two or more people or groups and their involvement with one another, especially as regards the way they behave toward and feel about one another
3. friendship: an emotionally close friendship, especially one involving sexual activity
4. connection by family: the way in which two or more people are related by birth, adoption, or marriage, or the fact of being related by birth, adoption, or marriage
So, I guess that’s what I’ll write about.
I have become significantly connected to many strangers, women out there who have suffered baby loss and are looking for answers. I have become significantly connected to the pain that they share- a common bond of loss. A crystallization of every parents fear come to life.
During this same time, I have simultaneously become disconnected to the people who I thought I had the greatest relationships with.
In order to connect with someone you need to relate to them. I cannot relate to people who go about their normal lives. Those who do not live with their hearts always pounding and with their tongues caught in their mouths.
In order to connect to someone it is necessary to be able to look them in the eye and speak in coherent sentences. You absolutely must coo and fawn over their sweet little children in their darling dresses or little boy sneakers. And you are never to speak of your child in anything but short, clipped sentences.
The flavors of my connections are different- there is more salt in the wounds, and a realization that life is beautiful, but fragile. This is what my new connections have taught me.
I relate to NICU stories- stories that involve removing infant children from machines that are keeping them alive. I connect with another mother’s fear that laughing in public will make her seem like a bad mom- or like she has forgotten her lost child.
My connections are more along the lines of a stranger in a strange land. There are some things that are achingly familiar. The human experiences that touch us all still touch me, but they are slightly of kilter as I navigate my way through the streets. There are only a small number of us who speak this language, so we cling to one another while we attempt to make our way in this place.
2. Behavior or Feelings towards someone else-
My feelings towards others have become focused. I either like you, or I don’t. My “feelings” have no gray spaces any longer.
The only concession I make to politeness and civilities are at work, because I can’t lose my job, and to avoid actually telling people in the rest of the world how I actually feel about them.
I have generally manifested my “feelings” for people through my communications. If I’m not talking to you- I don’t like you. I may have liked you before, but I don’t now. And believe me, there is a reason- If I did talk to you, I would probably tell you exactly what happened, and how I “feel” and that would most likely be a very, very bad thing.
I, on the other hand, have developed a very strong set of positive feelings for my “sisters” in loss. My feelings toward them are instantaneous and deep. I love them all. I wish that I were able to be there with them, hold their hand when they’re sad. I want to know them all, hear about their babies. I want to see their photos, listen to their stories and cry with them.
My feelings are general. I don’t “feel” that I could have a true, deep relationship with a person who hasn’t suffered a similar loss. Because I can’t “relate” to “normal” people.
My deepest friendships have come into being in the last 9 months.
People always say that when you have a true friend, you can be away from one another for a period of time and when you join together again it will be like no time has passed.
How about meeting someone for the first time, and knowing them inside and out, because you have lived in the depths of their grief and you know what rock-bottom looks like.
There doesn’t need to be any previous connection- you start off at just the right place because you know where the story left off. Each one of you is a continuous line. There is no beginning and no end.
Friendship, in it’s true and deepest sense, includes empathy, solicitude, and joy. It involves agape love. It is completely lacking in self-service. It is a testament of how well loved you have been…. I strive to show how well loved I am, by the character of the friendship I am willing to offer. And to receive.
4. Connection by Family-
Family as defined by blood and society will always be family. It should, in the best of circumstances, encompass all of the above-Connection, Feelings, and Friendship. Often it does, sometimes, it doesn’t.
Family can also be loosely defined in the context of genealogy and ties of migration. I have always been a history lover. I have a fascination with the intimate lives of women in the past. What trials they had to live through!
The branches of my family tree now consist of every mother of loss.
My grandmothers, with all of those babies left on the side of a wagon trail in unmarked graves.
My mothers- women who were denied the opportunity to hold their children after their children died- because professionals thought it would be better for their mental health.
My sisters- the women who are heavily plodding along the road, gently guiding others along the path.
In conclusion, my relationships have changed dramatically. I find it difficult to speak at times- even this writing is stilted and awful, because I know that there may be someone who hasn’t suffered a loss reading it. I can’t be completely free until I’ve ascertained what someone’s “loss status” is. I can’t relate to people who try to help, without any idea at the harm they are doing. My only healthy, constructive relationships (besides those of my husband and children) are with other baby loss moms.
With other moms, I can feel ok laughing. They can look at photos of my daughter and only see her beauty. To them her life is worth celebrating instead of mourning. Just because she lived.
They understand the concept of accomplishment. I am accomplishing something by getting out of bed today. I am accomplishing something because my hair is clean, and I have dressed the other children. I am accomplishing something because I have chosen to live, even though she is dead.
They can relate to the value I place on my child, that her tiny handprints are more valuable than any artifact that has been unearthed in an Egyptian tomb.
They relate to my expressions of joy, as well as my fear and anguish.
My relationships are varied, all deep, all personal, and full of the extremes between sorrow and joy. They are new, and with people I would have thought morbid a few years ago.
In the end, these women have allowed me to be the me I am today, without the pressure of performing the way that I did before.
They are honest and hopeful. They are considerate and kind. They are examples to me of what love is supposed to be-
“Patient, kind, without envy, boastfulness, or pride. It is not rude or self-seeking, or easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. It does not delight in evil and it rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails”.
Although I wish my situation were different- I am grateful for the relationships that I have gained.
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