Friday, October 14, 2011

Still In Labor

Reading this post might feel like a long contraction (felt like one writing it), so please bear with me...

I mentioned to another woman at Isaiah's pre-school this morning that I went to the cemetery earlier and she asked where it was and told me where her son's cemetery is.  I don't know if she knew about Rachel already and I had no idea that she had lost a son and this was really the first time we've talked even though her grandson was in Isaiah's class last year too.  It's sounds strange to say, but I'm so thankful for people who talk about cemeteries like it's just another place instead of in an uncomfortable way.  The ironic part is that just the other day - on our way to pumpkin pick - I noticed her son's cemetery for the first time and Matt said "that's a nice little cemetery, huh?" so when she told me where it was, I was able to say I knew of it.

Who would have ever thought we'd be noticing and discussing cemeteries 5 years into marriage, let alone spending so much time in them?

I talked to this mom for a while... her son died 20 years ago at 12 years old from a bad heart.  He helped her pick out his stone and picked what he would wear and what he wanted to be buried with.  She told me his anniversary is coming up in November and how she still goes to the cemetery all the time - sometimes daily.  She told me that she felt for me and knew how hard this time was for me.  I drove home thinking only people who have been there really get it.  Talking to people who have lost a baby or child is so comforting... and when I got home I realized why.

Although I have gotten better at coping with the 'well meaning' comments from people... they still happen ALL the time.  They still hurt my heart... they still keep me up at night... they still make me want to be alone and stay away from people.  And it doesn't happen with someone who knows my pain personally.  I was reading my friend Nat's blog about her son Sebastian who had Trisomy 18 and she had a link called  How to help a grieving friend  As I read through the suggestions, I saw that daily I am subjected to all the things that grieving mothers are hurt by.  I used to blog about the ones that really hurt in an attempt to teach people what not to say, but all too often, I got attacked in defense after I did so I stopped.  People don't like it when you  say they hurt you and so I always became the bad guy.  This has happened with 'friends' and with 'family'. 

I found myself wishing that I could get certain people to read this article I just read.  That maybe if our relatives and friends, who are so quick to judge me and think they know how they would be at this point after a loss like mine (especially if they actually think that they had as much pain as me because of Rachel's death or if they had a loss of another kind and think they 'get it' because they've experienced a loss and understand grief) - or just are simply wishing I would 'move on', 'get over it', or 'focus on the positive and have joy in the Lord' or whatever other way they have decided I'm going wrong - that maybe if they saw that other people feel the same about these things, that they would understand me better and have more compassion and be there for me.

But it won't happen.  Because the problem is that the people who say these things, do these things and treat me this way are the ones who think they've got it all figured out and so they are the exact ones who wouldn't bother reading through what I want them to know so badly...they probably won't even read this post. 

I had someone call me the other day wanting to tell me that she had read a couple of my posts and thought I'd appreciate it if she called to talk to me about it....which I did.  As we talked, I mentioned that I was surprised to hear she's reading my blog because it seems to me that most people from church and our family aren't reading it anymore, but that it's mostly people I don't know reading.  I know of a few from church and in our families who are still reading and let me know, but the majority of the people who followed it before Rachel died stopped right after because their emotions were over it.  Her birth was the climax and ending of the story for them.  That is why there were thousands of people who viewed my blog for the days surrounding her birthday and now there is 350 a day, most of which I don't know personally or have met through my blog.

I get extremely discouraged by this because it feels almost like Rachel was used for their emotional high and that they wanted to be "in" on the trial, but not for the long haul.  So anyway, in trying to help, she did what everyone else does (and what some of you are probably doing RIGHT NOW in your head) and made excuses for everyone, instead of acknowledging my feelings or trying to have empathy...  She did this because she truly believes it will be helpful and that if she can help me to know that people don't mean anything by it, then I'll feel better.  Unfortunately, I only felt worse even though I KNOW her motive was pure and right.  It still left me feeling misunderstood and uncared for. 

Her reasoning was that "the people who see me regularly don't need to read it because they see me" but I don't think she even understands how few people who see me, acknowledge me.

Let me digest that one for you...  people SEE me once a week during church service and for a few minutes afterwards.  Most people, especially the ones I would have called friends before this trial, don't TALK to me anymore or LISTEN to me or even stop to ASK how I'm doing. No emails, no phone calls, nothing.  And the ones who do, usually have one of those excuses or better-way-to-look-at-things answers for me and then change the subject if I say anything that could be considered negative at all.  So, I don't understand how that makes any sense.  People see me and therefore they know how I'm doing or are showing me they care?  Not true.  It's avoidance because it's uncomfortable and takes time and effort.  Let's call it what it is. 

Let's just say I've learned who my real friends are - and they are not the ones I thought would be here by my side at the beginning of this road.  I'm actually thankful for that though.  I am SO grateful for the people who ARE there for me and who really care about me.  The people who read my blog are the ones who minister to my hurting heart because they have taken the time to understand where I'm at. (thank you!) I find great comfort in conversations (with words and without!) with people who are reading my blog because they know me better and they know Rachel better.  I don't feel like I'm talking to a stranger.  I don't feel abandoned by them. 

I'll admit as I write this, I understand that this probably doesn't make sense to people.  I know that some people think it's ridiculous that I would feel loved because someone follows my blog - or believe that it shouldn't be necessary in order to know where I'm at.  I'm not going to try to explain it, I'll just tell you it is what it is.  And reading a post here and there doesn't count.  This is a long, painful and complicated DAILY journey for me.  If people I don't even know are interested in it, shouldn't the ones who call themselves my friends and family care too?  Especially people who acted so affected by her death?  (Just sayin')

I had a whole bunch of people read my recent post titled "I think I'm having a baby" because they saw it on facebook and thought I was in labor...the same people who don't read my blog ever and probably haven't since...  and some even commented without reading it saying they'd be praying and to let them know what happened!  Listening skills people....  So, here's where I admit that I was totally manipulating you with my blog title :o)  Asa's not on his way.  Give me a few weeks!  Sorry, couldn't resist - but glad I got your attention!  If you haven't read in a while, why are you here now?  Because you care about where I'm at in my journey with "Baby Rachel's Legacy" or because you wanted to know about Asa's birth?? hmmm.... sorry if I've disappointed you.

There were dozens of people who saw me have a complete meltdown on Sunday.  One turned around and said "so, how are you... I mean besides the obvious?"  Another asked me if I had a "bad morning".  One told me "You look tired" and I said, "no, I was just bawling"  they responded "I saw that" and changed the subject.  I hear "what's wrong?" quite often as if my daughter dying shouldn't still be an issue and there must be another.  I had a person last week tell me that someone who lost an 18 month old had it very difficult and insinuated it was easier for me because of the short time I had with my daughter.  I've had person after person tell me "at least you're having another" or judge me for the fact that I'm not into putting Rachel on the back burner because I'm pregnant again.  Or the ever-so-popular that I have heard since I was pregnant with Rachel... just keep busy... do this, go to this place or that event, hang out with these people... and you'll feel better cause you'll put your mind on something else for a while.  As if she's ever NOT on my mind or that there is something wrong or unhealthy with the fact that I'm okay with her being on my mind all the time.  Do people get criticized for thinking of their LIVE children throughout each day??  Nope.  I especially love the part of the article where it says "don't be surprised if the mom talks of wanting to die"  ARE YOU KIDDING?  I got serious flack for writing in a post about wanting to die - or even longing for heaven...  ("you need medication, counseling, fill in the blank....)  Finally!  Someone validates my feelings instead of judging me for them or projecting their need for antidepressants onto me!  I'm not crazy and alone afterall... Or how about where it says Mother's Day is especially hard... On that day, less than 6 months after Rachel's death, I was getting comments about how great it was that I got a playground for my first Mother's Day without her since that was the day we opened it for use.  I would have rather had her, but I was called negative and ungrateful for having sad emotions about it.

Blah, blah, blah... I feel like a broken record.  I just don't understand why it's so hard to get and why when someone is hurting it's excusable to run the other way and show no interest at all... to be judgemental... critical...or make it about yourself and then attack them if they tell you they don't like something you're doing.

OK, that should do me for a while... I'm done venting.  Thanks for "listening" if you're even still here.  I'm not allowing comments on this post because I know that people usually want to defend me and that's not what I'm looking for. (I assume all meanness will come in the form of email as usual, so if you're tempted, please don't)  I don't want you all to be angry with the people who hurt me and I certainly don't need anyone to spur me on, I can get upset all on my own - I want you to pray that God will open their eyes.  I have had great healing come from some of these tough conversations and have deeper friendships because God showed them that, although I may not always say it right, there is something HE expects of them and when God shows them, hearts change.  So PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE just PRAY.

And if you've read this and feel that you have been guilty of any of the above, please don't feel the need to apologize.  I actual find that really uncomfortable - I'd rather you don't.  Actions speak louder than words anyway.  Just read my blog, care about my journey,  give me a hug the next time you see me and say Rachel's name.  That's all.  I don't need a lot.  Prayer, hugs, a shoulder to cry on and no excuses.  That's all I want.  Hey, look at that, I could have summed up this entire LONG post in just a couple of sentences!  this is why I write... it helps me process things.  I've never been able to sum that up before.  *deep exhale*

I have a tough couple of months coming up with Asa's birth, Rachel's birthday and Thanksgiving & Christmas (Rachel's due date) Plus, Isaiah and Des' bdays in there too - and a whole bunch of people I have to deal with along the way and all I want to do is hide.  I don't know how to do any of this.

So, here's the article I read if it would help you to read what they say you can do to help a grieving friend.  And yes, I'm still grieving.  If you have time, I love the link they have on the book of Job along the side.  I've blogged about that before...
How to Help a Grieving Friend

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