~ in the face of loss ~
Given that, according to studies, 1 in 4 have experienced losing a baby or child it is very likely you are going to encounter the situation of being with a friend who has lost theirs.
In my personal experience I noticed that many of the people who met me and my story had no idea how to handle it, either they avoided the topic or were speechless. Some of my friends are still speechless after more than a year. I do understand this. After my training in grief and loss and with years of working with clients with experiences that included the loss of a child I didn’t really know how to appropriately react even though I apparently did help those clients. Nothing prepared me fully for my personal experience.
Untimely or sudden death, as that of a child, an accident or suicide, leaves people speechless because ‘it shouldn’t happen’. I found myself speechless in the process of my grief, exhausted from the emotional roller coaster and still wished that people would talk to me about it.
(Today I’ve been reminded about the importance of helping people understand WHAT to say, when I called a fitness center to inform them that my mother died in January through suicide and the response I got was ‘That’s not good!’… )
Here is what I wrote just two weeks after the loss of my baby: (more…)
~ letting go ~
I’ve been experiencing this split between grief and joy regularly over the past year. Growing up with one twin, seeing her develop and rejoice over the small things of life regularly brings up the question: ‘How would it be with two of them?’ I imagine her and her twin sister, who would probably look fairly similar, being identical twins. And time stops.
Just recently I’ve met a woman who has also been growing up with one twin. It’s a rare situation I notice, as she hasn’t met anyone else in the 21 years. This makes 3 of us, that I know share this situation, and still, even though the situation might be the same, the experience will definitely be very individual. Like with any grief, I might repeat here…
I still feel the need to recall and explain a bit more, which might help you understand. (more…)
~ no set timetable ~
Today I stood in the garage with my Dad going through the remnants of my parents life. They have been married and together for 54 years from when they were 17 years old. My Dad tears up as he watches my Mum’s picture in what we call ‘Mum’s room’. In every little thing stored in their garage there is history, stories about all those moments they shared.
I’m dealing with clearing the things he no longer needs or wants. He says: ‘It might be easier for you to throw these things away than for me. Or maybe not?’ He is relieved that he doesn’t have to deal with all the details.
He tells me some of the anectodes that I might have heard before but I let him tell me again. It’s his processing time. Today on the phone he mentioned that he is good at avoiding, so I figure that I give him as much of this way of processing that he choses to take on his own choice.
I recall another instant… (more…)
Grieving the loss of a loved one comes in as many forms as there are people grieving. A significant part of the process of the loss can be honoring this loss, honoring the person who has passed and honoring the self in that loss.
In many cultures there are traditional ways in which people who have passed away are honored. It starts in the way they are cared for once they are dead, whether they are being held at home or in a morgue, what the custom is of preparing the body for the funeral or cremation.
In that is also the personal honoring, shaped by our tradition that family and friends offer. It might be expected or welcome to visit the dead body at their home, yet for others it is not custom to view them.
Cultural differences (more…)
~ integration ~
Some of my friends, family members, clients who are or have been experiencing grief will all have heard or thought themselves ‘when will I be over this?’
When does grief stop?
When are you over this?
I have experienced multiple losses in the past year, one being my daughter and one being my mum (she lost her life through suicide). I’ve not mentioned other forms of loss, like ‘loss’ of
- friends and home (through moving overseas),
- loss of identity and role (my job through becoming a mother),
- loss of health (due to the after-effects of being pregnant and giving birth),
- loss of sense of self (through attaining a new role, i.e. grieving mother, grieving daughter).
My experience (of losing close people in my life) has been that I do not expect myself to ever ‘be over this’ and I do tell people. In the past grief experts talked about ‘a year’ being the phase it took ‘to get through it’. Nowadays they say it takes 5 years to integrate the experience of loss into our being.
Obviously there are different sort of grieving processes, depending on the relationship with the person, the kind of death, including the lead-up time, and the personal way of dealing with the loss. All of this makes every grieving experience unique and not comparable.
Recently a friend asked me whether I feel challenged to be around her twin girls. I said: ‘no’ which was absolutely true in that very moment. Yet, there are other moments where it is challenging to meet what I do not get to experience.
Today I’ve got sent a picture of two beautiful small babies, probably identical twins. That’s when I had to stop for a moment and feel what happens inside of me:
Then I think: That’s what Ananda Mae and Amya Mirica would have looked like.
A little sting in my heart.
A big sigh.
I wonder whether my friend thought about the effect a picture like that could have on me.
I wonder if I will have these reactions every time I see a picture of identical twins.
Truthfully I had all kinds of reactions over time, from anger at twin mum’s strolling around with their twin prams, to avoidance and frustration with my twin pram, then annoyance with the couple we saw traveling to Fiji with their twins and making – what I felt was – a big fuss. And of course there were all the beautiful pictures we got sent from our twin antenatal class friends – they produced a mixture of longing, sadness, joy and happiness.
It’s now more than a year since my little girl Amya passed away and I trust that I will always miss the chance of raising identical twin girls. I was so looking forward to this gift that I had been given.
I won’t add the picture here, I’m sure you can imagine…