First, let me start by saying thank you for all the supportive comments and well wishes for my family and my birthday. It is absolutely amazing that you have become my life line these past weeks....especially in my darkest moments. I don't know any of you and yet I can count on you as if you were childhood friends for compassion and support. I am truly grateful.
After my last post, I decided to attend my first SHARE support group meeting here in Naples. I think I was at the point where I felt if I didn't start letting people get close enough to help me, I would soon self destruct with my own feelings of hopelessness and grief. Of course, Ryan and I scheduled time with a grief counselor at the end of the month, but I felt some sort of intervention was probably wise before then. I've been in pretty bad shape lately.
SHARE is a nationally based support organization for parents dealing with early pregnancy and infant loss. I'd been hesitant to seek out any personal contact with this group mainly because I was nervous about sitting in a room with other parents who have lost children. I haven't handled Christian's death very well and to hear others share their own stories of pain and loss...well, I just didn't think I could handle it. It breaks my heart when I read personal stories of loss from families who have reached out to me here on the Internet. I am always left emotionally crushed and crying a puddle of tears. I couldn't imagine looking at someone face to face and hearing their story. I was completely fearful of falling apart in front of people I didn't know. Thankfully though, I pushed through my fears and doubts and went to the meeting.
Because Ryan and I hadn't spoken to each other in days, I decided to go alone. Although I was sad at the time, in hindsight, I'm glad I went by myself. It allowed me to speak freely about my grief and get fresh perspective on what I'd been feeling these past weeks. Ryan has been working overtime trying to "fix" me... He wants to protect me and help heal my broken heart...but I haven't allowed him interfere with my own grieving. I guess that's why he "tinkers" so much... he likes to fix things - objects that are broken... and it helps him with his own feelings of loss. But I'm not an object...and the way I feel changes so radically on a day to day basis. I believe, in some ways, it makes him sad that he can't fix me too. I've tried sharing with him that I have to go through this process... I MUST go through this process...but I know he hates seeing me so sad.
At any rate, it's created this huge silent space between us... filled with emotion but no words... It's hard not being able to speak openly with your best friend and it makes me sad to think we had arrived at this place despite our efforts to be supportive of each other.
Before I met with the group, I felt as though I was going crazy! I felt "mental" and wondered if, perhaps, I needed to rethink medication for depression. I know that sounds terrible but being emotionally lost really does tend to play on every weakness and every doubt we possess. And I really have felt that I've lost my way.
But at the meeting, as I listened to other mothers speak about their children, I learned I am not unique in my journey with grief and loss. Women were talking about issues I've been too afraid to speak about...too afraid to share with people out of fear of being judged. I learned I'm not going crazy after all. And most importantly, I learned that what I'm feeling is normal. Prior to Monday evening, I never thought I would ever know the feeling of what normal is again. Of course, this is my new normal..but it feels good to know I'm going to be okay.
Initially, I struggled with finding my voice as I began sharing my story...Christian's story... with the group. I cried openly as I shared how much I missed my son. All the hurt poured out of my heart as I said out loud and brokenly, "My son died 10 weeks ago." I shared my feelings of helplessness as Christian lay dying in my arms. And I shared the emptiness I feel when I close my eyes at night. Everyone understood exactly how I felt. It was good to share. Strangely, the experience felt much differently than when I share my feelings openly on the Internet. When I'm writing, my thoughts never get verbalized out loud. There is something very healing when you give your feelings a voice.
We talked for about 2 hours before the meeting ended. And afterwards, I was emotionally drained... but in a good way. I felt as though a huge burden had been lifted from my chest.
Unfortunately, I could not express my relief to Ryan when I got home. I slept in Christian's room again and prayed that God would help me find the words to heal the silence which had been driving me and my husband apart.
The next morning, however, Ryan made it easy for me. He really is a wonderful man and I am so blessed to be married to him! He came into the room with a cup of coffee and a shy smile...it was such a small but tender gesture. His little peace offering made way for me to reach out and meet him at least half way. He made breakfast for me and we made small talk with each other...trying to ease the awkwardness we both felt...but not feeling completely comfortable.
Shortly after we ate, I headed out for a day of pampering for my birthday. I received a gift certificate for a day at the spa and so I indulged myself with a massage and facial. After the emotional release the evening before...the pampering I received at the spa was icing on the proverbial cake... I was complete mush when I finally headed home!
It was late in the afternoon before I actually saw Ryan again. We headed off to Home Depot to pick up some items I needed to complete some home projects around the house... and as we headed into the store, Ryan stopped in the middle of the parking lot and pulled me into his arms. All he said was, "I've missed you". We stayed like that...hugging each other close for several minutes completely oblivious to traffic moving around us. I'm sure we were a sight standing in the middle of the Home Depot parking lot holding on to each other tightly!!
I can tell you the ice finally melted between us. Weird as it sounds, it felt like I was home again. We went about our shopping as if we had never skipped a beat. By the time we left the store, we were laughing and teasing each other like we always do.
We made my birthday dinner together and I opened cards and gifts. One particular envelope was simply addressed, "Mom". I figured it was a card from my dogs as I receive one from them for every occasion. But, as I opened the card, I read the words, "For My Mother"...it was a card Ryan got me from Christian. I can't tell you how beautiful the words were that I read...just absolutely precious to me. I closed my eyes imagining my son telling me the words I know I will never hear from him. And although there were tears on my cheeks and the too familiar pain in my heart...I was happy.
My friends, it was a good day.
I wasn't brave enough to take the first step toward healing my relationship with my husband...but thankfully, he took the first step for me.
I did finally seek out a support group for help with my pain... and it was good.
We are moving forward...tiny little steps ...but we are going forward. Thank you my friends for helping me and my family along the way.