Sunday, February 28, 2010

February Meeting

Some people say men and women grieve differently. Others say that we as a human race grieve differently to each other. Some people believe that we all grieve the same just at different stages of time.

If you have a partner how has this grieving process been for you both. Do you differ much in how you live with grief? Has it torn you apart or brought you closer together? Have you learned anything about your partner that you did not know beforehand? Share what you feel comfortable with. Link your post from your blog in the Mr Linky below.


My husband and I grieved pretty much the same in the first few months. We just cried. We cried in front of each other and we cried alone too. We spoke openly about how awful we were feeling.

As months went on I believe we started to grieve differently. Sam didn't speak about Christian as often. I wanted him too. I felt as though Sam was moving forward and leaving me behind.

Its been 3 years for us and I can say that we definitely grieve differently. If we are asked how many children we have Sam mostly says "3 children" I mostly say "4 children"

Sam is courteous. He thinks of others. He doesn't want to make people feel sad or awkward by mentioning that we have a dead son. I too don't want to make people feel awkward but for me I gave birth to my son. I held his little body in my arms. I love him. How could I not include him when somebody asks me how many children I have. As much as I wish Sam could say 4 instead of 3, I understand him and his reasons. That is okay. Sometimes I wish he would be more open about his grief. More verbal, more understanding to my feelings. I want to be able to help him with his feelings. We are two very different people who lost the same person. That doesn't mean we will grieve the same. When I think about it that really is okay. We are walking on the same road, just looking at different things along the way.

I blog..... he goes to boxing.


One thing I know for certain is, and I want to say from the outset, I am very lucky to have the husband I have. He has been kind, patient, understanding and incredibly supportive from the moment we found out Hope had slipped away from us inside my overdue, labouring body. Having read the blogs of countless other mothers, I am reminded of this daily as I often shake my head in disappointment when I hear how unsupportive other husbands/partners have been, whether intentional or not. I know the statistics are frightening and so many marriages collapse in the wake of babyloss, but for us, I know our loss has strengthened the incredible bond we already had and made us realise we can survive absolutely anything together.

Like Carly, those first few months were intense and we grieved heavily together. We cried at the same time and we saw the pain in each other's eyes all day long. He took seven weeks off work and in that time, we barely left each other's sides. Showering together. Doing everything together. I know he was holding me up, but at times I think I was holding him up as well. And that was ok, we were leaning on each other and that was the only way we were going to survive. Our loss was catastrophic, as they all are.

Things changed, though. Not necessarily for the worst, but we moved differently through our pain. He went back to work and just......... got busy working. He also took up a few hobbies - bike riding, brewing beer and started playing lots and lots of new music. The house was never quiet.

Me, I read blogs. I started a blog. I lost myself on the laptop for months on end. I never did go back to work. I sat at home all day every day and wept and wallowed. And he would come home so drained from work, I wondered how on earth he did his grieving. I wondered, was he moving on without me? Had he left me and our pain behind?

I would read post after post that just really resonated with me and time and time again, I would ask him to come and sit with me and read them. Especially when I would read a post from a grieving dad, not that there are many of them to come by. Sometimes he would read them, but more often that not he would make excuses. He didn't want to lose himself in the pain of others, when he was already lost in his own pain. He thought our story was sad enough, why on earth would he want to read more sad stories? For me the sad stories of others made me feel less alone, more connected. For him, it just made him......... more sad. This is also why going to face to face support groups didn't work for us. We went once, but it was pretty obvious it wasn't for us.

He later confided in me that when I was worried he was never doing any grieving, that in fact he was, and that I need not have worried at all. He had 20 minutes to and from work on the train each day, and on those trips, he would stick his headphones in his ears, and allow himself to actively grieve our precious daughter. Being a nurse, with lives in his hand each day, he didn't really have the time to think about her and our loss all day every day like I did, but like me, he didn't have to, because it is just always there. Scratch the surface on either of us, and the pain, the shock and horror from the day we lost her is still always there.

We speak her name softly in the house now. We want to keep her in the conversation, even if it isn't all the time. As we have a new little boy in our house now who needs to grow up knowing there was a special little girl who came before him and that she was loved and will always be loved and of course missed - equally by her mum and dad.


From the moment that our daughter drew her last breath, the process of grieving was different for my husband and I. I theorized, at first, that the reason it was harder on me was because I had been the one to carry her for nine months, and to hold her those last minutes and feel the life leave her little self as her spirit flew out the window and into the sun. It took a long time for me to realize that it wasn't harder on me, just different.

Initially we both sort of walked around in a daze, together, but not really speaking. I think most people who have lost a child know what I mean. We said nothing, because there was nothing to say. I was shattered. He was shattered. Period.

The day of the funeral I was inconsolable, collapsing into fits of tears through the entire mass. I could feel myself dying. My husband, stoic, stood at my side supporting me. It has sort of been like that ever since.

I never went back to work after losing Peyton. The idea of returning to my former self felt too impossible. I wanted to talk about our loss all the time. I wanted to think about and wallow in my grief. To spend days and weeks and months and now years, penning essays and poems about all that happened. I swirled into the darkest depths of grief, spending hours just sitting and crying by her grave. I allowed myself to become "that lady." The odd one. The one who preferred to spend sunny days alone in a cemetery, rather than around people. My husband did not.

Within a week of Peyton's passing, my husband was back at work, and from what he has told me, his dead child was never really discussed there again. The majority of his coworkers were at Peyton's funeral, showing their support by packing the church pews to full capacity. That being said, my husband is a private person. A very loved person, but very private. I think silence about our daughter's death came from people wanting to respect his privacy. Work was his escape, and they allowed him that.

A few weeks after Peyton's death, I wrote Thank You cards to everyone who attended, and gave my husband a pile to deliver to the inboxes at his work. A few months later I found them, wrapped in a plastic bag and tucked in the side pocket of his briefcase. That is where they sit to this day. He couldn't bring himself to do it.

Three or so months after Peyton died, we went to see her grave and my husband broke down. It was one of the first times since her funeral that I had seen him weep, and though I felt the urge to cry, I didn't. It was my time to be stoic. My time to show him support. I told him I was sorry for bringing him there. For upsetting him, and his response will stay with me forever. He said, "sometimes it's good for me to put aside some time to cry." That comment illustrated how differently this grief worked in us. I had to put aside time to remember to feel joy. He had to put aside time to remember to allow himself his grief.

I read a statistic early on that said over 90% of couples who lose their first child divorce. This statistic scared the hell out of me. We had already lost so much, to lose our marriage too would be devastating. I told my husband what I had read, and we made a vow to each other that we would come out on the other side of this thing together. We realized that to do this would mean each respecting the other's right to grieve in their own way. It is out of that respect that I didn't make an issue out of those cards going undelivered, and he doesn't out of my inability to return to work.

Anyone who knows me, or reads my blog, knows that I wear my heart on my sleeve. If I am feeling sad, everyone knows. If I am feeling joy, everyone knows. My husband is more even keeled, keeping his emotions internal. I used to worry what keeping things in would do to him, and try to encourage him to go to therapy, but then I realized I needed to stop. I had to respect that internalizing was his way of grieving.

This loss has taught me so much about my husband, not the least of which is how right I feel about our marriage. I married a man who respects me, even when he doesn't understand me. I also learned how different our emotions are. My husband has undoubtedly learned alot about me too through this process, and even when we wish the other would grieve "our way", we respect that I could no more easily throw myself into working like he has, than he could into writing like I have.

While we both love and loved our daughter, both feel cheated by what happened and wish for things that cannot be, and both grieve her, we are different, and for us, surviving this loss as a couple has meant grieving differently, but always together.


For my husband and I, our grieving processes were very different. Our first experience of it was shortly after our daughter's death, she was literally turning cold in my arms, and my husband felt very uncomfortable with this, as though we were doing something wrong and he wanted to alert the staff that our Jordan had passed away so that they would take her away and do whatever it was that they needed to do. (We were in palliative care and the nurses knew she was dying. They were giving us time and space.) I felt badly for his discomfort but I wasn't ready to let her go at the time. Where we were was special and they had a bedroom kept cold to keep her in rather than a morgue. We were allowed to spend as much time with our little girl after her death as we wanted. Although hard (and not hard) I held my little girl as much as I could over the next few days, not wanting to regret that lost opportunity. At first he would sit there stoicly keeping me company, but not looking at her, but in the end even he could not resist our daughter's beauty in death and we spent many moments holding her and marveling at how peaceful she looked without the pain and strain that her condition had caused her during life.

I admit we had some problems at first. I was wading through the pain trying to find a way to deal with it and Aaron settled into a routine that he was comfortable with. One day he came home and I had brought some things of Jordan's out into our living room. Baby girly stuff, stuff that obviously belonged in the nursery. I wanted him to hang a mobile of hers out in the living room so that I could see it on a daily basis without having to go into her room (it was too sad). He refused, I insisted. We argued and I told him that I understood that this hurt him to be reminded of her, but it hurt me to not be. We compromised, or rather he understood how much I needed to do this at that time. His discomfort was based more on what others would think about what I did, and I argued that I couldn't care less about others, this was about me. About us.

After this we were more conscious of the things we needed to do to get through. We ignored what other people thought we ought to be doing and we did our own thing. Aaron sought solace in his video games which left me free to spend many hours blogging. We did this companionably, in the same room, stopping now and then to discuss what I was working through. Often I would cry as I blogged and Aaron would simply hand me a box of tissues and leave me alone, knowing that this was just a part of my processing. Blogging allowed me to vent and I found it very cathartic.

Over time, the need to vent and cry lessened. When I became pregnant less than a year out from Jordan's death a new wave of grief hit us. Fortunately for us my sister had moved back in with us by this time and Aaron and I started walking late at night (we needed someone to stay with my son). We'd talk about Jordan and our grief and where we were. There were many, many tears on those walks but they felt oh so good. We both got a lot out of it, we were so connected, so in tune again. I think by the time Jasper came we had processed so much... the pregnancy itself forced many issues and pains to the surface. We were forced to deal with them. And I say we simply because I think my insistance on talking about Jordan, and Aaron's obliging of that, forced him to process as well. Though he'd be processing the things that I'd been processing weeks earlier which goes to show that we were still doing it at different stages but that it was still compatible.
It's been this second year of living without Jordan that Aaron's pain shows up more clearly. The different stages of grief we worked through have become more obvious. Sometimes it seems as though he is holding onto it more than I, as though my active processing has pushed me to a different place. He struggled more with her angel day, struggles more with other people's pregnancies and babies and other peoples ignorance.

So to answer the question as to whether we are closer or not, yes, Aaron and I are closer, but you know what, we can absolutely understand how this could easily have torn us apart as well. We were very determined that Jordan's death would not be the death of us, but at the same time we knew that it takes more than determination to make it work. I guess we learned not to take each other for granted. Nothing is set in concrete.


belle said...

don't know how the mr linky thing works:) sorry. but i can answer the question. we completely process this grief in different ways. my husband felt it quickly and fell apart when our daughter was born. but just as quickly, resolved it in his heart.... i say that only because he says he's at peace now. it's only been 6 months for us so i haven't got a clue what will come up in the future.

i'm going to be ok. i knew in that moment that i would be. for me, part of what i dealt with was a repeat of "old emotions" from the 3 miscarriages i've had. just as many emotions are new territory though. i've only begun my journey through this wilderness. i know that until the day i die and am reunited with my sweet little ones, i will always grieve and miss them no matter how much peace i have. no matter how many other children i hold, no matter how much joy i find in life.... 4 of my babies are not here and i will always be keenly aware of it.

as to weather it has made us stronger or weaker in our marriage. i would say on most points it's made us stronger. it has also showed us some weak points. do i think we'll make it? yes, i do. it has certainly forced us to talk about our differences. i do know this, no matter what it does to "us", "i" am going to be stronger in my faith, more free with my love, more giving of my compassion, and more understanding of others differences and needs.

La Cubanita said...

My husband and I most certainly did grieve differently. After we left the doctors office in which they told us our baby had Anencephaly and could not leave I was inconsolable. My husband didnt even shed a tear until he got to the car. We spent about 20 minutes crying in the car together.

we went to the hospital for the induction just a day later and we were both scared as we had no idea what to expect. During labor we pretended we were ok, that the baby was ok. It didnt hit us until she was born, lifeless. The pain was so horrible that I couldnt bring myself to see her at that moment.

Again, I was off in a daze during my recovery, and glad they didnt have me stay in the postpartum ward to hear all those babies and new mothers. I was still in shock of what happened. It wasnt till I was being rolled out of the hospital in a wheelchair when they handed me a pink blanket that the local women had knitted for babylost mamas. they had wrapped my little angel in it and it smelled like a newborn. I clutched that blanket like there was no tomorrow and the tears just fell.

They continued to fall for months. My husband never mentioned a word of what happened. He never cried again.

We decided to try to get pregnant again just 3 months later. After 2 months of trying we got pregnant again. Just one week after we got a positive pregnancy test he left me. I still dont know why.

They say something like this will either bring you closer or tear you apart. I honestly thought it brought us closer...I guess he had other feelings.

we never spoke of our daughter again. He never cared to know the child on the way either. I never got to how he felt about it all.

I am now a single mom, my soon to be ex has never met our son. He has moved on and gotten engaged to another woman before our son was even born and had a daughter with her. I think he had a lot or problems but perhaps the loss of our daughter was what pushed him over the edge and he couldnt deal with being the father of a dead baby... he moved on, got a new life, a new daughter... I can only assume that he wanted to start over.

Living in the Rainbow said...

I don't think I have done that right at all. I think I just linked to the main site. I have been away (off internet) until last night and am wondering whether I can still contribute to this or not.

Next month perhaps but would be good to chat about these questions too.

Connected but not the same, is this post

Perhaps I will work my head around Mr Linky for March

Peace and Healing to you all

Sophie said...

No Michael it worked. Mr Linky just sent me to your post. Thanks for participating! :)

Carly, Sally and Kristen... I saw my husband in all of your posts.

Lacubanita, I am so sorry that he dealt with his pain in such a way. Thankyou for sharing your story.

Belle, essentially you go back to your blog and write up your response, then you come back to Mr Linky an add your link so that people will find you and comment back directly on your blog.

Commenting here is okay but it's really nice when people drop in and say hello on your own blog too. The idea of Sunset is to get traffic through your blogs and in doing so, support.


Maggie said...

Thank you for sharing your stories. It's amazing how men and women grieve differently. I feel like our grief is especially hard since we carried our babies, but their grief is just as real.

michelle hendrix-swords said...

i think my husband grieved a short time, then it was back to life as usual...except i didn't go back to life as usual. i can't go back to life as usual. i struggle to find this new norm i must live with and it seems to be getting more difficult rather than easier.

Sarah said...

I just started a blog to post the things I have written for my babies. I have lost a son and a daughter to Anencephaly. They were 1 year, 1 month and 1 day apart. I wrote poetry (and still do) to help me grieve and to heal. All of the poems I have written for each of my children are posted in separate posts.