For the past two years, I have attended All Souls’ Day mass on November 2nd. It is part of the Allhallowtide Triduum, beginning with All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints’ Day, and then All Souls’ Day. Barely two months after Nelle was born, it was the first time I had set foot in a church after we had lost her. The following year, I had lost both Nelle and Iris and still did not know what the future would hold for us. It gave me a strong sense of community to be around other people who were thinking and praying for their loved ones. In that type of situation, I always look around, trying to find the signs of grief on the faces of others. While people were gripping their candles, or sometimes holding hands with those near them, I did not always see the tracks of tears, even though, for the third year in a row, mine flowed freely. Continue reading
A few weeks ago, I submitted an essay to a website under a specific theme. The rejection email came with a simple sentence: “Thank you but unfortunately this is not what we are looking for.” It hurt more than it should have, as I know rejection is an unavoidable aspect of writing.
An opportunity arose recently for me to send my story to the Chicago Daily Herald through someone I know. I worked on it. I tailored it to the type of audience I knew would be reading. I went a long time hearing nothing, then was asked to submit a photo and the suburb where I live. Not unlike my pregnancy, I didn’t believe that it would actually be published until it happened. And today, it was included on the website.
It was validating, because it made me feel that my story was worth telling. Awareness about pregnancy and infant loss will come from sharing stories. Awareness about grief will come from talking openly and honestly about navigating loss, and the days, weeks, months, years, and lifetime that follow. Stories matter.
How physical my missing is. An entire body experience.
I anticipated that parenting after loss would be hard. I had moments of intense sadness looking at my living baby girl and thinking about my other two baby girls. Outside of those moments, I had been fairly even-keel. But this week, and passing the day that Nelle was born has thrown me decidedly off balance. Continue reading
After losing my baby girl, a friend sent me a gift. It was a shawl, knit by a member of her church. I tried to wrap myself in it several times, but I just couldn’t. It hurt too much.
The shawl sat in my closet, neatly folded, all these many, many months. Recently, I pulled it from its spot. I tucked it into the bag that I will be taking to the hospital. Though I could not wrap myself in it, I intend to wrap my baby in it. Continue reading
“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.” -TH White, The Once and Future King
I have needed distractions for months. Years, really. After losing Nelle, there was hardly time to regroup myself before becoming pregnant with Iris, and then I lost her too. Then there was the doctor-mandated waiting period. How to cope with the empty waiting? And then, once pregnant again, how to cope with the insanity of how slowly the days passed? Continue reading