Forgiveness, duh

I just wrote a few days ago, but I’ve been thinking more about why I’ve been feeling a little more at peace these days. Time, sure, is a part of it. But I think an even bigger part of feeling peace is letting go of (or loosening the grip on) some of the negative feelings (anger, especially). Slowly I’ve had this massive and seemingly obvious realization that people outside of this loss are never ever going to understand what this feels like. I’ve always known this, just as anyone who has held their baby and said goodbye knows it, too. But it feels a bit different now —  it’s less like a hopeless burden that no one will ever understand me and more of a this-is-a-fact epiphany.

For a long long time I would get so angry when people didn’t seem to understand me and would say or do the wrong things. There are many blog posts in the community about this. Hell, I’ve written them. When the grief is so raw and you’re so vulnerable — a gaping, bleeding wound — any wrong words or actions hurt so badly. It’s like I’ve said: Anger is easy. Being angry is so much easier than dealing with the complicated feelings that constantly bombard you when you’re trying to be a part of a world that has continued on, unfazed, after you’ve lived through an unimaginable hell. And when you’re bone-tired just from the effort of living it’s so easy to be let down. All you want is to be understood and it’s an impossible and vicious cycle of letdown.

On the other side of the letdown, presumably, is a person who is simultaneously dreading saying the wrong thing, wanting to comfort you, and trying to help. I am understanding and/or accepting this more and more now. I don’t want to make excuses for the people who’ve stuck their foot in their mouths because sometimes people legitimately say really really dumb things. (“It wasn’t meant to be.” “You’ll have another baby.”) But I know loss moms who returned to work by choice two weeks after the death of their baby while others only return after many months leave. I have seen women get pregnant a couple of months after their loss and others wait a year before trying. I know someone whose baby died many years ago and she refuses to this day to speak of it but I also know moms who want desperately to talk about their babies even if they died decades ago. Guessing what an individual might want or need is no easy task and I accept more and more that for most people trying is half the battle. And empathy is incredibly rare. I’m still having a hard time with the people who say nothing at all — who haven’t acknowledged our loss, but maybe that will come someday. I guess for now I just want to try and forgive myself for being so hard on people, and I also want to forgive people who have let me down. I want to use that energy and space for something else.

(Totally relevant sidebar: if you know someone who is going through something awful and you’re feeling stuck, or if you just want to do better for your friends and family, please read this book: “There is No Good Card for This: What to Say and Do When Life is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love” by Kelsey Crowe and Emily McDowell. I wish I knew how to make it part of every school’s curriculum.)

I still and always will treasure those people who always seem to have the right thing to say. The ones who have consistently provided comfort; remembered dates; said Odin’s name. These people are a gift and they have shown me how to be a better friend, daughter, wife, and mother. But more and more I’m able to just forgive the wrong words and actions. It’s so much easier to let it go than to hold onto it. I know people (for the most part) are trying and they mean well. It just takes a while to accept that.

xo

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