Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Rawness of the Black Hole

Lately, I have seen, unfortunately, a new crop of dead baby mamas. Brand new losses, with all their confusion, ache, newness and despair. I grieve for those mamas and their lost children.

It is a difficult thing. I have found some peace nearly 8 months out. I am no longer new to this frightening world. I have found a place in it, and I feel a responsibility to reach out to those who have just emerged from the black hole and are blinking in confusion and fear at this strange new world.

I was reached out to. I was held. I was allowed to pour out my grief in all its rawness and harshness and wailing and blackness, and I was told I was welcome and I was told I was not alone and I was understood.

Those things were precious to me then, and now. Being supported by those who had been there was of incalculable aid to me. The support of my friends and family who have not been there as parents is still important - don't doubt that you were invaluable to me. But there is something special and necessary about knowing you are not alone, you will survive this. And you will be well again someday.

So I have to repay that. It can't be repaid to those who served me so well, it must be paid forward to those joining our ranks of the babylost.

So I try. I try to sit and listen, I try to abide with the grief of others, and I try to give them a taste of the peace I've reached, to assure them that they too can swim through the morass of grief and come out the other side. Unfortunately, that sometimes requires wading back into the morass to reach them and help hold them up.

There is no way to avoid coming face to face with your own grief again. Sometimes it is in the story itself, the similarities cut straight through your defenses and pierce your heart in the same place and you weep with them, for their loss and yours. Sometimes it is only in mirror, or a painting, viewing the grief as if you were studying it.

That has value too. I can see how far I've come, I can see the ways in which I've changed. I can see my own fragility and my own strength. Sometimes I wish I did not feel compelled to sit with this raw grief. It hurts. A wise friend told me not to take so much pain into myself, that it is ok to be selfish and protect myself. I wish I could listen. I wish I did not always feel selfish.

I hope it helps. I hope it does something for them, as it did for me. I hope they feel comforted, a little less alone. I hope they can find peace. I hope that it buoys me and does not drag me down. I hope it honors Gabriel, and the short life he lived. I hope it is his legacy writ large in life.

I watch these new bereaved parents struggle to take a breath, I tell them that is all the need do right now. Take one breath at a time, one step at a time. Someday, I will move on from this new place, further down the road. I'm already on my way, nearly eight months gone. These people will hopefully take my place, an ever changing cast of characters, an ever reaching line of support stretching out over the landscape. . .

O Brave New World, that has such people in it.


Sadkitty said...

Thank you so much for your strength. I can't imagine being as helpful, even 8 months out. You give us hope. I don't know how you have any to spare.

Catherine W said...

This is a beautiful post Eliza. You are not selfish at all. I only know you through your words here and at Glow but you seem so very kind and supportive. I'm certain that your words help so many people. Not just those you are directly responding to but many others, those who read in silence and leave without commenting. I was one of those silent observers for many months but I took strength and hope from the mamas before me.
I think that there will come a time when it is too hard to go back. Please remember to be as caring and generous towards yourself as you are to others, protect yourself. Nineteen months out I still try to connect to the newly bereaved but my words often sound so empty I end up saying nothing. I feel like an old woman trying to get down with the kids, telling them that I understand their pain whilst they look on aghast.
Just after I lost her, I couldn't imagine surviving nineteen days. Let alone nineteen months. Yet here I am.
You will move on (hopefully faster than I seem to have managed to as I'm still here reading even after all this time) when it is the right time for you to do so.
Reach out when you can and protect yourself when you need to. I think you have created a beautiful legacy for your Gabriel and many, many people will have been, and will be, touched by his story and his mama's compassion. x

MK said...

I think the need to reach out and comfort those like us is what makes us women...and mothers.

MSC from GP said...

Good for you for reaching out--it's been an amazing healing tool for me as well.

You are not alone.