“When we really speak the truth, words are insufficient. Almost everything except things like ‘pass the gravy’ is a lie of sort. And that being the case, I shall shut up. Oh and… pass the gravy.” -Iris Murdoch
I heard the words over and over: “I have no words” or “I don’t know what to say.” Yeah, me neither. Losing one baby renders a lot of consolations along those lines. Losing two babies? Even more. If people did not know what to say the first time, they definitely did not know what to say the second time.
I have tried, stretched, and pulled words from every muscle in my body, and it is still not enough. No combination is adequate; the words do not exist to describe what I feel. There is a pain in my heart, but pain is such a bland word compared to what I experience.
Both times, when the doctors realized from the ultrasound images that my babies were gone, I had no words. I didn’t have any sound. I opened my mouth as if to scream, but nothing came out. It was complete silence and shock for a few seconds, and then the screaming and sobbing started.
I try to fill my lack of words in other ways. Sometimes the words of others, much better writers, can inch closer to a proper tribute to grieving. Or a tangible tribute, by way of art, footprints, or candles can be an expression. Not a replacement for words, but a complement.
The latest is a photo that I ordered from Carly Marie Project Heal, another mother who lost her son before he was born. She now makes art for other grieving moms. The piece I chose had two starfish, for my two babies.
Sometimes, even objects are not enough. In my grief support group, some of the moms were talking about what to do for the upcoming holidays, sharing their traditions in honoring their lost babies. Stockings hung with their babies’ names. Gifts bought. None of those felt right to me. Enfolding them into our Christmas in that way only seemed to be a reminder that they are not with us. We talked and decided to make donations instead, as “gifts” to our daughters. We chose the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep foundation and The Children’s Defense Fund.
Words. Objects. Deeds. Still not enough. It will never be enough.