Monday, March 9, 2009
Her Story - if I could do this again....
My husband decided that we should not tell his family. We had not yet told them that I was expecting, and he thought we could simply spare them the sadness. Besides, they had planned a huge party to welcome my son into the world and celebrate the first grandson born into the family. Over two hundred people would show up, and he didn't want to ruin the party. So I was silent. This is a decision I regret even now. A week from the date we heard those three small words which changed our lives, we dressed up in our fine clothes, pasted smiles on our faces, and went to a party.
I didn't feel like celebrating. I felt like hiding and crying.
I tried really hard. I sucked in my belly, put on a nice dress which sort of hid the bulge, and attempted to smile. But the family could tell I was not happy. In the absence of any other information, they assumed I just did not like them and was not happy with their customs of celebrating. For years, that early opinion they formed of me held and colored their view of me. It was not until six years later, when I had my second daughter, that I told them that one had died, and died only a week before the party. That my husband had not wanted to tell them so they would not be sad during a celebration. By that time, it was too late. First impressions had already been formed. Now we understand each other far better, but I always wish I had just told them the truth and let them deal with the pain with us.
But the morning of the party, we had another visit with the doctor. There was no change. By this time, I was more prepared to hear it again, knowing full well that she had died. My husband heard it for the first time. This time it sunk in for him. That timing difference was difficult for us. But men grieve differently. There were times I felt his grief, and times I felt very alone in this whole process.
After the party, the whole family made a trip to a nearby country to welcome some relatives who had just moved closer. I went along, but as the week progressed, I felt weaker and weaker. The stress, the built up sadness, the stress of pasting a smile on every morning when all I wanted to do was pull the covers over my head and shut out the world was difficult. My heart was sore, limping, and I was asked to be normal.
If I could do it over again, I would share the grief. It might have ruined the party, but it may have deepened our relationships.
Years later, I lost another child, very, very early on in a pregnancy. I actually lost that baby before I had even taken a pregnancy test, so the awareness of a new child had barely begun to register before he was gone. In that time, I was more quiet. I did not tell everyone, but I had learned my lesson, and I did tell some people. I needed my support system around me. I needed people to understand why I was hurting.
It is true that not everyone will react appropriately to grief, but I learned that not sharing can be as painful as the stupid things people say when they are lost for words.