Friday, December 18, 2009

Grief Chronicles, Volume 10

It has been awhile since I have done a grief chronicles post. It is not because I have stopped grieving. Simply that life has started to move again, and I have been distracted from forming organized thoughts about my loss. I am back at work. I have resumed some of my usual activities. It is the way that things had to be. As much as I am drawn to sit in my house and never go back out into society again, it is not a realistic way to live. At some point, you have to choose to try. To keep going. At first there were some days I could hardly breathe. Other times, weeks will pass by and it wasn't so bad. Now, I am back in the swing of things, and as you can see from my Wilkerson baby blog ( I am allowing myself to hope, and to dream about what the rest of my life could be. I expected things to go a certain way. All of a sudden, circumstances diverted me into a totally different direction, which threw me off, and now I am back at square one trying to think about what I want out of life again.

No matter what happens, where I go, who I meet, or where life takes me, Noah will always be a significant part of my heart, and I am just sick for him every single day. I thought I would dedicate this grief chronicles post to the holidays, which has proved to be a pretty tough time for both Chris and I. Here goes.

1. Trying to survive the holidays (written on Thanksgiving)

I didn’t think that the holidays would be that bad. I didn’t have Noah through the holidays. I was pregnant with him this time last year, but I never had the chance to develop any traditions with him. But that’s just it. I dreamed of what these times of the year would be like with Noah. So, these days are spent grieving the death of those dreams. It started with Halloween. I was doing ok. I had planned to keep it simple. Then, as I watched my niece and nephew run up and down their street trick-or-treating, it hit me. It will be at least 2 years until I am here with child in hand doing this. I felt like I had been kicked in the gut. I couldn’t breathe. I was crying and I couldn’t help it. Thank God kids trick-or-treat after dark. No one saw me. Fortunately Chris was there to escort me back to our car and get me out of there. It ended up being a pretty miserable night.

I have been waiting and wondering what Thanksgiving would bring. Again, the plan was to keep it simple. Today was the big day, and I spent it with a lump in my throat. I wavered on the edge of falling apart all day, and somehow managed to make it through. It was exhausting. It doesn’t take much to get me going, and fortunately, no big thought or feeling shoved me over the edge. Today took a lot of effort to get through it all.

A wiser parent that has been through this told me in a grief group that the days leading up to the holiday or anniversary are worse than the actual day itself. Knowing that, I have conditioned myself to let the stress leading up to it go somewhat. I would rather have one bad day than several after all. Whatever happens will happen. I have to survive and eating myself up like that is not helpful.

Another thing that has helped when I feel my blood pressure rise is to tell myself over and over again “it is just an ordinary day. It is just an ordinary day…” Really, we put so much pressure on holidays and such to be so big and hold so much meaning. Living in survival mode like this, that is way too much to expect. I need to believe that it is just an ordinary day. There will be other years when the day can be extraordinary. Not this year.

I am also giving myself permission to only do the parts of it that feel good. I am going to put up Christmas decorations. I didn’t get to do that last year because we were in the process of moving, and planning on being in Kansas City with Chris’s family for the actual day anyways, so we skipped it. I want to see what this house is going to look like at Christmas. I am also making Noah a stocking that will hang on our mantle every year. I want to see it up with everything else. I do not, however, feel like I can do Christmas shopping. It is a combination of having to be out there in the madness shopping, along with the fact that it takes all that I have to make it through an ordinary day. To have an additional “to do” item on my list is completely overwhelming. I just can’t do it this year. I know…bah, humbug. Again, this is not forever. Just this year. A break would be much appreciated.

I wish I could say that these small steps make it all better, but it is still hard. Noah is not here, and the giant, gaping hole in my heart feels particularly large. I should be introducing my 5 month old to yearly family traditions. I should be watching our family and friends pass him around at gatherings and share their amazement at how beautiful he is and how much he is growing. But he is gone, and the dreams of what all that would have looked like is gone with him, and it hurts pretty bad.

2. Holiday parties are really hard.

Not to sound like the ultimate social butterfly, but I have never had such a crazy holiday season keeping up with parties and events. The old me would jump at these sorts of invitations. So, when I get invited, I initially say yes. Then as it gets closer, I have second thoughts. Being in large groups of people is still very hard. I live on fear of what people are going to ask me about me. Eventually, as is custom in most small talk when you first meet someone, the question of family comes up. I just don't even want to get into it with someone I don't know any more. Or, I will be talking to someone that I do know whom I haven't seen in a while, and they are nervous and over analyze everything they say to me. They are worried that they are completely offending me and/or making me sad with everything that they say. I wish I could just say to them “Relax. I am fine. Just be cool and normal. Really.” But, I can't do that. The whole thing is uncomfortable, so I make an exit from that circle of people and move on as quickly as I can. It is just so hard. Are we done yet? Can it be the new year, and the pressure and social parts of this time of year be over with already? It is just too hard this year.

3. I am a sucker.

This is really frustrating. It is the holiday season, and there are tons of donation opportunities in stores. I walk past them, can’t help looking at them, and then feel my heart ripped out by whatever the story is and can’t help but jump in and do something. I guess there are worse things, but I am just sick inside because of it. Like, tonight I was at Wal Mart getting groceries, and I walk past a giving tree. I try to keep going about my business. But, I can’t. I back up, and start looking at the ornaments that indicate the needs of others. This one is for senior citizens. I see that a senior would like nothing more than a basket of mixed nuts and a nutcracker for Christmas. Tears well up in my eyes. That is seriously ALL that this person wants?! Such a simple request to have a good Christmas. I try to go on with my shopping, but I can’t stand it. I rush back to the tree and grab the ornament, and try not to look at the others for fear of having to buy the whole tree’s worth of stuff. I get the nuts and the nutcracker. The good deed is done, but I am still torn up over it. This happens at every store, every time I go out. I am going to spend this Christmas saddened over and over again by other people’s tragedies and mishaps. The thing is that I am going through something exceptionally difficult, and I know the value of the small kindnesses of others. There have been a number of people who have stepped up to do these sorts of things for me. Maybe I feel that I have to pay it forward a million times over. I am just sick over their sadness’s and this is a small thing I can do, and I know that it counts. Either way I have a long month ahead of me with ordinary shopping runs and dealing with this over and over again.

Final Thought:

Thanks to those of you that have gone out of your way to give me a hug and acknowledge that this is a hard time of year for us. That small kindness means the world to me. It may be a hard year for Chris and I, but I hope it is peaceful for all of you. 2010 is around the corner. I will be sad to see 2009 go because in my heart it was Noah's year. But 2010 beings some new opportunities, and the hope that next year will be different. Many blessings and love to you all.