I went back through and read some of the blog entries in September and August 2010 on my Travels and Rambles blog. (www.krumlovgirl.blogspot.com) I figured after tackling the Facebook timeline I’d give it a shot.
Of course, in doing so, I re-read some of the negative comments that came from Pete’s friends a couple of weeks after Toby’s funeral. They made me mad all over again but, oh well. The one that stuck with me, though, was one that a reader named Jodie left. She has checked out my blog from time to time and left the occasional comment although we have ever met. In one of the entries, though, she asked me not to focus on the negative, not to write anything else about the bad stuff that was going on, not to name drop, and to let go. (To be fair, she also lost a baby to SIDS.)
So, I’ve been thinking about that. She said that in time I would regret doing it.
Yes and no. I don’t regret doing it, but I do regret not being more eloquent about it.
When someone loses a child you tend to hear about the positive ways that people around them act. You hear about friends coming over for vigils, people taking off work and helping out, and places of employment being understanding. You very, very rarely hear about the negative side.
Although people DID do those things in the beginning (and I wrote about them, too) the amount of negativity we got was unfathomable. From the very first day when I was asked to lie about Toby’s death and say it didn’t happen to a year later when hateful text messages continued, even when nothing was being written back I return, there was just so much negativity that it boggled the mind.
I wrote about these things and I am glad that I did. Although most people who keep SIDS blogs or grief blogs seem to have a ton of support, it just wasn’t there for us after the initial shock. I thought that there was something wrong with us. By reading other people’s accounts of their experiences I thought that we must be really terrible people that couldn’t inspire any kind of kindness.
After keeping the blog for awhile, though, I found that I wasn’t the only one. Emails started coming to me and little by little I made connections with other women who had lost babies and were also getting the negativity. In one instance, the woman actually changed her name because her in-laws were sending her death threats. She said that finding my blog had been a godsend because it let her know that she wasn’t alone.
I didn’t provoke any of the negative crap that got slung our way, but I did react to it. And in some cases I reacted publicly. (Especially when it was given to me publicly.) Actually, I only reacted to about half of it, although that might be hard to believe. Pete supported me very early on in doing this, however. When people he knew told him to tell me to stop (as though he had control over me) he told them that if it helped me then he supported me.
So I’m not sorry that I did it. The relationships that were damaged were already damaged before I said anything. They were damaged as soon as the people on the other side called us names, antagonized us, and attacked us. The cuts were made well before I fired back and they were untreatable. Whatever I said back in return might have made the situation worse but once the attacks had been made in the first place, there was never any going back. I mean, once someone tells you that you’ve murdered your child or that you’re messed up or that they hope you miscarry is it really the thing that you say back that ruins the relationship?
All my life I was taught to kind of sit back and take it. If someone is cruel to you then you complain to other people, but you keep them in your life and you don’t address it. If your boss treats you unfairly then you don’t leave, you stay until they make you leave for another reason. In middle school, I was bullied so badly that the principal actually called my mom and told her that he had been made aware of a group of boys that were going to try to rape me on my walk home from school. I never stood up for any of that. Maxi pads were stuck on my locker with fake blood, my new coat was cut up the back, deodorant was smeared all over my clothes while I was in gym class…
By the time Toby died, I was sick of it. I just wish I had been more eloquent in my speech.
I have since come across other blogs by fellow parents who are also having difficult times with people and not getting the support that you might expect from the loss of a child. If I had found those earlier (I couldn’t because, for the most part, the child had not passed away yet) I would have felt so much better knowing that I wasn’t alone.
No, in most instances I did not take the high road. I did fight back. And I’m not ashamed of anything that I have written since or anything I said. I leave it all up, the good and the ugly. It helped me. And maybe it’s helped someone else who’s out there alone, and feeling attacked, and trying to deal with the stupidity of those around them even more than they’re trying to deal with the loss of their child.