Dealing with Loss

It has been said that a child
who loses his parent is an orphan,
a man who loses his wife is a widower,
a woman who loses her husband is a widow.
There is no name for a parent who loses a child,
for there are no words to describe this pain.

Not in any way to
the pain
of losing loved ones
other than children
I did think this was an interesting quote.

Words can’t describe
the pain
so why should there be a word to describe
the reality?

This week was a hard week.

I am struggling with a few things.

One of which is that I am finding myself
that the world at large
does not recognize my loss.
(Have I mentioned that this experience
has unfortunately not always
brought out the best in me?
And that what doesn’t kill me
hasn’t necessarily made me stronger?)

The world does not see that
is missing.
And that is just shocking to me.

If I had a child
but no husband
people may ask
Where’s your husband? or Where’s your dad?
They could see the missing piece.
But they don’t see
as a missing piece.
It’s like she was never here.
And that bothers me
a lot.
It bothers me that only
Tom and I,
Mom, Hank, Rebecca
the priest
the midwife
a few nurses
the mortician
and the doctor who performed the autopsy
are the only people
in this world
who ever got to see
the magic that was, is,

12 people?! How can that be?

But I know in my heart
that it must not make it easier
to have it noticed.
I mean,
loss is loss.

I don’t mean to be insensitive in this post
especially since
I know so many people
who have experienced
their own loss.

I ache for their loved ones
because I feel death
in such a different way now.
I know, I feel, I believe
it’s not the end of everything
but it is the end of that
human connection
with that dear one
that we crave so much.

The other issue is that
I am having a tough time at work.
Not because of the work itself
or my colleagues
all of which are great
but rather
just me.

I have started seeing my therapist
once a week now
and plan
to talk to my boss
to try to sort through the
difficult fact
I am not the same.
is on my mind
I sit in meetings
and all that runs through my head is
“My daughter is dead”
“My daughter is dead”
like a tape on repeat.
Needless to say,
this makes it a bit hard to

I don’t really have any motivation
or energy
or interest
in work.
I don’t really like this feeling.
I thought work would be a good

But I am starting to discover
that there is no such thing as

I am tired of crying.
Holding it together
and looking normal
at work
or at play.

I know this is an
odd comparison
but it’s kind of like
when you really really have to pee
and you have to wait
for whatever reason
but as soon as you are close to a toilet
you go running
and can barely hold it.
(or is that just me?)

that is what I feel like
with crying.

Like I really really need to cry
but I have to wait
because I am
at work
on the train
out with friends
so it eventually builds up
and I rush
to the car
to the cemetery
to visit
and then I let loose.

(And – stay with me and my metaphor here –
sometimes I “pee my pants” anyways
and everyone sees me a blubbering mess.)

But it always feels better
-at least a little-
when I let loose.

I wish I didn’t have such a hard time doing so
in front of other people.

Even Tom.
I am not sure what I am protecting people from,
or if I am protecting myself.

My therapist says I have to get it out.
I sobbed for hours on Monday night
and stayed home Tuesday
crying with hardly any energy to move
and it’s still not “out.”

I wonder if it ever will be?

I am so tired
of this heavy, aching feeling
weighing me down.

I am tired and drained
and so sad.
I want my

I want to remember
my daughter
with love and laughter and happiness
and I am sad that
that will probably never happen.

Yes, I can smile when I think of her
but it is always mixed in with

What does her laugh sound like?
What does her cry sound like?
What does her voice sound like?
What color are her eyes?

I feel like a bad mama,
that I don’t even know these basics about
my own daughter.

So I am going to work hard on trying to create
a new normal
and a life I can live with.

You can help me by not being afraid
to say her name out loud
by acknowledging that
I love
just as much as if I had known her for a lifetime.

Oh, wait. I did.

It was just her lifetime,
and although it may have been short
it was powerful.

Rest in peace, my sweet girl.

Published in: on October 29, 2008 at 18:05  Comments (5)  
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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Okay, now it is my turn to say that I could have written this post, except that I couldn’t have written it so beautifully! I know what you mean about nobody seeing your daughter. 12 people…wow. I think my number is even lower than that. But, think of how many people have seen your beautiful video and pictures! At least that is somewhat comforting. In a small way we got to share in Malou’s life.

    I have had similar work issues. Last spring I asked to teach part time this year with the baby coming, and I got my wish. Before school started back I really tried to change it to full time because I wanted to keep myself “occupied”, but it didn’t work out. Now I realize how lucky I am, because I am not stressed by work like I know I would be if I were full time. Still, I have a hard time getting excited about doing a job I once loved. I think, “these kids don’t even know I had a daughter.” But I’m going to tell them on Friday when we celebrate the Days of the Dead. (I teach Spanish.) I think the Mexicans have it right to spend two days a year remembering their loved ones. One of the days is even especially for children who have died.

    I also really wish I knew the color of Ada’s eyes. I have very blue eyes and I would be happy if my children get their looks from their father – but I want them to have my eyes. I know that sounds weird and perhaps a bit arrogant, but I like my eyes and I always wished that Ada had my eyes. But I’ll never know.

  2. Oh, my dear sweet friend. I wish I could take away some of your pain, although I know that’s not possible. But I do want to tell you that even though only a handful of people were able to see Malou in person and touch her, the rest of us, all your friends and family, we do see the MAGIC that IS MALOU. You have given that to us. You have given all those that love you an incredible gift in sharing Malou so wonderfully with the rest of us. We see the magic of Malou in the strength of your love for her. We see the magic in Malou by seeing her through your eyes and hearing about her through your voice. I know it will never be the same as being able to really see her and to really know her, but I promise that we do see the magic of your beautiful little girl. And I promise that we won’t forget her.

    I am also so sorry to hear that you and Tom weren’t able to conceive on this try. My heart really grieves for you guys. I guess there are not a lot of comforting words to say at a time like this. But just keep hanging in there, and I guess the only thing you can really do is have faith, a tough thing at times, I know. I know that you have so much love to give, and I truly believe that one way or another (someday) you will be able to share all that love (the love you have already given to Malou) with Malou’s brother or sister. I love you.

  3. Once again Steph, you have written so honestly and frankly and beautifully. All your thoughts and feelings within are well worth getting out “on paper”. I am sure your therapist will agree. It makes all our jumbled and crazy thoughts in our brain come out logically and now we, all the people who love and care about you know exactly how you are feeling. This helps us too, in knowing where you are “at”. Of course you will have a sadness forever, but you have also grown inside and as you say yourself, changed in yourselves. We all know Malou WAS a real person and we will never forget her. Now she is a little angel looking down. Try to think of her little smiling face watching over you. Why not go outside one of these clear nights, find a bright star and name it in honour of Malou? Steph, please call ANY time, day or night if you want to talk or cry with someone. I am always here.

  4. Thanks again guys for your comments.

    Beth, it’s kind of nice to know we feel so similarly. My therapist and my doctor (today) said I am completely normal (not that I feel that way!) and that grief takes a long long time and I can’t rush it.
    I also like the idea behind Dia de los Muertos – here in DK they have an annual church service for babies that have died – we are going to go on Sunday and submit Malou’s name to be read aloud with all of the other babies.

    Keely, thanks for your message. Your words always come across so heartfelt and comforting.

    Carolyn, the star is a good idea. Just have to find a clear night. 😉

  5. Steph-
    I will always remember Malou and the happiness she brought all of us. I’m so glad that we were able to visit the cemetery where she sleeps so peacefully. All of her pictures are so beautiful because you and Tom are wonderful and loving people and are great parents.
    Although our pain and situations are totally different, I can kind of relate to your feeling of “keeping it together.” I finally realized last week that I’ve been having such a hard time with my parents divorice and my dad’s health because everything I knew and believed to be true is crumbling around me. I also started seeing a therapist and it is so helpful to talk about it and cry about it and not have to worry what other people might think.
    Just know that I love you and will always be there for you. Maybe this December we can cry together for own losses. I hope this next IUI goes well. I’ll be praying for you and Tom.

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