The Loneliness of Grief

October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month. During last month’s #MoonshineMeetup, a conference call for the Broken Brown Egg’s Shellshocked Support Group, one participant said something so profound that it really made me stop.  She said, “If someone’s child passes away, they are expected to mourn, and they are allowed to think about it.  Because my child was never “born”, does that mean I should act as though it never happened?  Why don’t I get to think about them?”. 

It was a heartbreaking thought, because it made me really stop and think about how lonely grief really is.  I started to really think about how many women and men we encounter every day who we never suspect to be in mourning.  They are right in the middle of their pain, and we look right through it.

Infertility in and of itself, is an ongoing bereavement.  With every month gone by, you are constantly grieving over your vision for your life, your hope, or your plan for your future. Every single day is a readjustment period.  Every reset and restart is like signing yourself up for the same pain all over again.

And the hardest thing about grieving, the absolute worst thing, is that it feels as though everyone wants you to forget. They will say that it’s because they want you to feel better, but you feel as though what they really want, is for you to not bring them down.  They don’t want to look at your sadness anymore because it is an uncomfortable inconvenience.

“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” ― Vicki Harrison

To our credit, most of us do a pretty good job of keeping our sadness to ourselves.  But it crushes you.  Your heart feels like it’s beating out of your chest, and your body does what feels like a double-step.  You think to call or message someone, or just scream “Help Me!!”, but then that overwhelming feeling of loneliness sets in.

You’re not actually alone, but it feels that way.

Because everyone else is over it.  And you just know that when you start laying out your issues, their facial expressions will say, “are you still talking about this?”, or “umm,…isn’t there someone else more qualified to listen to you about this?”.  Everyone else seems to have moved on.  Everyone else can act as though nothing ever happened.

But something did happen.

And it is happening.

And it hurts.

It feels as if everyone wants you to “just” let it go.

And you’re left thinking, “But why do I have to forget?

And, “Why don’t THEY remember?”

You get furious at their impatience.  At their painful indifference.  At the way they treat you as though you want to stay there.  That you want to feel this way.  That you want to be unhappy.

We spend a million hours every week with all types of people.  Laughing, talking, hanging out, working our jobs.  Mundane things.  And most of the time, nobody realizes who is actually broken inside.  I mean, if you can do your job adequately, and you provide enough of a “you” for it not to be so obvious that you aren’t firing on all cylinders, not one person is going to touch your shoulder like in the movies and say, “Really, are you okay?”.

“Grief never ends… But it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith… It is the price of love.”
— Unknown

Wherever you are in your process, it was on my heart to share this simple truth: Grief is lonely, and it often outlasts sympathy, but it is necessary.  Allow yourself to grieve. No matter how you come out of this, or when you reach the ever-elusive “other side” of it, know that it is your right, to remember and reflect and regroup.

Whether it is a child who never took a breath, or one who took far too few.  If it were a dream that never came to light, or a loved one who is no longer with you,…you have the absolute right to remember that it/they mattered.  The condition of your heart, is important.  What it feels like to YOU, is valid.  And what you’re going through, is real.

Take all the time, and love, that you need.  You have my empathy.

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6 Comments on The Loneliness of Grief

  1. LadiebugJ
    October 12, 2014 at 9:43 pm (3 years ago)

    Wow. Someone finally put it into words for me. All this….all of this, is what I have been feeling and thinking for 11 years now. I’ve just never been able to put it into words. All of these words you have written and then typed……it just hits home like nothing ever has. I long for someone to say “I get it”, “It’s ok to be mad….you don’t have to be happy or pretend you are happy”………..pretending for the sake of others is so very exhausting. Yet I can’t quite find the right way to tell people what I need them to hear and understand. Like you said, “Grief is lonely, and it often outlasts sympathy”…..oh yes, YES, YES, YES, it does!…….especially when you feel like no one cared in the first place and everyone really IS thinking ““are you still talking about this?”…….!!!! Thanks for posting this. I feel like you are inside of my head…..and I will save your words and quote you whenever I forget that it truly is OK for me to feel this way.

    Reply
  2. Leila Allen
    October 13, 2014 at 11:35 pm (3 years ago)

    My husband and I have fertility problems, We have been TTC for the past 5 years. We have no support from family or friends. Especially when we were doing infertility treatments. The only advice we got was , you have the perfect life with no children. How can family say that to someone who tries so hards, prays with every breath and tries to keep smiling through every fertility storm you encounter. Thank you for finally putting my feelings in words. It’s everything that I have felt and have been through and still do to thus day. I can’t thank you so much I hope you don’t mind that I will save this as a reminder that we aren’t alone.

    Reply
  3. Kim Openo
    October 15, 2014 at 7:23 am (3 years ago)

    Consider the last day to a Kickstarter for a book helping Invisible Mothers by Emily Long. Google her…it is the last day today (10/15/14)

    Reply
  4. margaret kassa
    October 17, 2014 at 6:43 pm (3 years ago)

    So beautifully written.You have covered everything. I now understand so much more how my daughter feels everyday. If after reading this blog, anyone with a heart should “get it”. Thank you again for such a honest, sincere and beautifully written blog.

    Reply
  5. Eunice
    March 13, 2015 at 12:05 pm (2 years ago)

    Love this site. Thank you so much for sharing something like this with us carriers of broken brown egg. I have learned to manage through it its been 10 years. I thought it would be easy too and after trying in vitro fertilization once and feeling destroyed when the baby didn’t survive and ended as an ectopic pregnancy I was absolutely devastated. I try my best to educate people and say, just because you didn’t see my baby doesn’t me he or she was not there and it should not have hurt me. I have learned to live with it and I am constantly trying to educate people about infertility and how much it hurts. Thanks for sharing ladies.

    Reply
    • Profile photo of Mrs.Tiye
      Mrs.Tiye
      March 15, 2015 at 4:04 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks Eunice! I think the most powerful thing you said was the word “EDUCATE”. That’s exactly what is needed to get people to remember to be compassionate and empathetic. Blessings and hugs to you!

      Reply

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