Thursday, December 8, 2011

What was your excuse?

I’m feeling a little angry tonight. I’m tired and can’t go to sleep for another 6 hours so that’s not helping. Anyway…

I joined another support group awhile back and have really been more of a lurker there than anything else. I enjoy reading what people have written but it’s only been recently that I have felt comfortable posting. A huge difference between this one and others is that I’m probably one of the younger members and the people who are there have been dealing with the same things for decades so there’s a lot of experience behind their postings and comments and I can appreciate that. I have also found that I’m one of the few that’s not crazy-angry so that’s a welcomed change as well.

The other day I wrote about something that had happened recently with someone that I knew because it was on my mind and bothering me. I got back two private emails and a comment right away and the first thing that someone said to me was, “Just in case you were wondering, you’re NOT overreacting for feeling that way.” That felt…awesome.

I’ve kind of grown up around this attitude of, if someone does something nasty, the idea has always been what did YOU do to provoke it. And that’s certainly been the feeling this past year. Right from the very beginning of Toby’s death there’s been this feeling of having to be sensitive to everyone else’s needs when, honestly, I think they should have been to mine.

And then, when crappy things happen, I even get blamed for the things that I DIDN’T do. Up until a month ago, Pete was still getting text messages saying that they “knew” that it was my influence and my ideas that he was acting that way. From his friends, from his family…What a load of baloney. Like he’s not an adult and can’t make his own decisions? I actually saw him set right there in front of his “friend” (I can think of better words to call him but I won’t) and tell him how angry he was at him and how upset he was at him and his friend was STILL looking at me and saying it was my fault. Bastard.

But really, what were we supposed to do? Why did everyone else seem to think that they would have handled it so much better? Especially when I had seen them handle much lesser things much worse.

Despite how angry I might come across in my blog most of the time, I have really, REALLY given people the benefit of the doubt for the most part. My “best friend” of 24 years (yes, 24 years) didn’t even come to the visitation or funeral. Didn’t come to my house afterwards. Didn’t call or send flowers. I did, however, get a few lines from her on Facebook saying that she had thought about us. I haven’t heard from her since.

My “friends” from my former job, some of which I saw on an almost weekly basis until I got pregnant with Toby? One of them I saw once after the funeral and then never again. The other ones I saw twice. No phone calls, no texts, nothing. Despite the fact that I tried to keep up with them and see how they were doing.

That makes me mad.

I heard through the grapevine that people thought we were too sad, too angry, weren’t handling it the right way. What the hell? The right way? Like there is a right way? The same people were saying this were the ones who had to go to therapists after a breakup with a boyfriend.

I could even probably understand this if it was years down the line and I was this bitter person that was hard to be around, but we’re talking WEEKS (and in at least one case days) later that people were saying these things. Some were people without kids but the ones that had kids…I hope to God nothing ever happens to them and if it does I hope nobody ever treats them the way that they treated us.

Sometimes when I get worked up I’ll talk to Pete about it and he just shrugs. It’s really easy for him just to move on. His “friend” sent him an email a few months after coming here to visit. That was last Christmas. He still hasn’t read it. I’ve gotten on the guy’s blog a few times and he’s even written things pointed at Pete, as if Pete is reading it. He’s not. I told Pete about sending a message and apologizing to one set of friends that left (no idea what happened to them) but I felt bad since we both liked them. That’s the only time he got upset. He didn’t think I should have apologized.

I found another blog by a mother who lost her son to SIDS and she is going through something similar. She writes:

"I have been hearing that some people feel my blog has become too dark.  That I sound too depressed, too sad.  They want me to stop my fall before I go too deep.  Pull myself up by my bootstraps.  Move forward for the sake of everyone else.  But, here is the thing about MY blog, YOU can stop reading it whenever you want. There are a few people that I have encountered who have experienced a similar loss or know someone who has.  Those people have written to tell me that they know this phase I am in.  They remember it, in some cases, even if the event was long ago, still experience the phase for a day or two around anniversaries, birthdays, Yarzheits, and other unexpected moments.  Grief is a process, people.  There are stages that people go through.  I am in a particularly dark one.  I hope to come out on the other side but I don't know if that will be in a couple of months or a couple of years.  I don't want to be here anymore than you want me to be here...but again, I JUST GOT HERE!  Just over five weeks ago, I was with Max, loving him, bathing him, singing to him, feeding him, playing with him.  When you get over the death of your child in five weeks, let me know how you did it. " ( 

Or later, when she seemed to have similar feelings to me and wrote: 

"What I feel is NATURAL.  To feel an enormous loss as I do is what any parent would feel because our present and our future has been ripped away from us.  It is EASY for you to judge me from where you stand.  But, I DARE you, FOR ONE MINUTE, to consider that it was YOUR child that died and not mine.  I don't need to ask how it feels to consider this thought because I KNOW that you would NOT dare to consider it. AND, if your judgment comes from a home with no children, you have no place from which to even begin to judge.  ONLY if you have been where I have been.  ONLY if you have too lost a child.  ONLY if you know this heartbreak, will your words have any bearing on my heart.  I have spent countless hours reading about, speaking with, and listening to women who have all been in my shoes.  What I KNOW is that no matter how PAINFUL this is....and it is painful on a level that is ALL CONSUMING....I am exactly where I am supposed to be."

Yeah, what she said. 

At what point did it become okay for people to act like jackasses? 

Back to the other support group, though. When I told them that we didn’t see many people anymore and they asked why I said that people thought that we had “changed.” The response I got was overhwhelming. People were shocked. Honestly, it made me feel better.

Yes, we have changed. We lost our CHILD. And not from a long, terrible disease or something that we could have treated or tried to fix. We went to bed with a child that was alive and woke up with one that was dead. So for the days and weeks and months that followed when people thought we didn’t have a right to be sad, or angry, or upset…and for those who tried to use our sadness to their advantage to teach us lessons…and for those who thought we didn’t handle it the way we should…and for those who later justified the way that they acted by telling everyone that they were just trying to help…and for those that used our suffering to benefit their own agendas….

I’m glad you’re gone. You’re the ones that were wrong, not us. We were grieving. What was your excuse? 


Maxie's Mommy said...

Rebecca - I also feel glad that some people are gone. In most cases, the cruelest people are the ones who have always been a little or a lot self-centered. They are the ones who mde mountains out of molehills and were overly dramatic or narcissistic. I think I might be happier with the group that's left now. The ones that care about us. The ones who check in and ask what they can do for us. The ones who love us. I have learned that people are just not up for the task of being kind in a tragedy or crisis. It is uncomfortable for them. There are also weirdos who get off on trolling the baby loss blogs and writing mean things. I have seen them on every blog- even the blogs with the most positive, upbeat mommas. We live in a cruel world but there are good and kind people out there. They are just a little more rare.

Rebecca said...

I'm sorry but who the heck does that? Who has so much time on their hands that they have to go around and visit grief blogs to tell people that they're wrong for feeling what they feel? That's nuts. We had someone visit us not long after our son died (about a month and a half) and they got mad because they said they envisioned all of us hanging out on the front porch, having beers, and hanging out. When we didn't do that, they got offended and upset. People put some many conditions on HOW we should grieve and the way that we should. There are lots of expectations on grieving parents that I didn't know about until I became one. I have actually found random strangers to be more helpful in some instances. We took Toby to a writer's retreat with us a few weeks before he died. Those people, many of whom we had only met once, sent us cards with money to help with funeral expenses, changed their FB profile pictures to one that had Toby in it, and in some cases even came to the funeral. We had close family members and best friends that didn't even do that. So yeah, they're out there. Unfortunately, just far and in-between.

Have you experiencd any grief groupies yet? It's a weird phenomenon but you'll know what I'm talking about when you meet one.