Admitting that anger has been in the way.
When our daughter died, it was an unexpected thing. As word got out through us and through the grapevine that our daughter had died, the responses that we got from everyone were not always what we had expected. Some of the people who we would have relied upon to be there when we were so broken and hurt were not there, and others who we had little or no expectation of stepped up and became our support system. It was such a trying time, full of surprises and disappointment which I found so hard to cope with while our loss was so new.
In the weeks after our daughter’s death, it seemed that we were being left to our own devices. Time began to move forward and everyone was getting back to their own routines and their daily concerns. The calls to check in with us became fewer, our daughter came up less and less in the conversations we had with everyone; we were feeling very alone together in our grief. I began to feel as though our daughter was becoming just another sad news story and that the depth of our pain and our anguish was simply lost on everyone but us.
I confess that I was very angry. I was angry at God for taking my baby away. I was angry at my doctors for not knowing about our daughter’s condition before she was born. I was angry that our daughter died in spite of doing all the right things during her pregnancy. I was angry at my mother for dying the year before and not being here for me when I needed her most. I was angry that my father was out of town when our daughter was born and died. I was angry at all of the stupid things the people closest to us chose to say (or not say) about our daughter’s death. I was angry at those who would not validate our loss as being worthy of feeling just complete and total devastation. I was angry that my husband was not on the same page of grief that I was at any given time. I was consumed by this unbridled anger which evolved quickly into resentment, making a curtain go up between me and everyone else.
At the time, of course I had no idea of the impact my curtain would have. It was only a curtain, right? I felt certain that if people really cared they would push the curtain aside and let me know that they remembered her, that they could see my pain, that they were there for me. I certainly wasn’t going to tell them that I was desperate for them to do so! I shouldn’t have to ask for compassionate help and understanding, should I? I will squirrel myself away, wrapped snugly in my blanket of resentment and simply be angry at everyone for letting me down when they probably had no idea they had.
Today, I regret that I allowed others’ discomfort about child death be my guide for so long. I wish I had been more forward in the year after her death in revealing that it is not unpleasant at all to talk about her and remember. I wish I had let go of the anger and found a way to change the things that were bothering me. I wish I had acted against the restraints I felt and brought our daughter into people’s awareness with remembrances and memorials. So many opportunities were missed.
Of course, there is no way to know if things truly would have been different had I been more assertive about my needs. Who can say how much of a role my actions played in the scheme of things? Was this lack of support really occurring or was it my perception? Was it something that evolved because I became closed off or because those people were truly unable or unwilling to be there?
Part of healing after my loss has been to let go of so many things, and one of those things I am working on now is the anger and the blame I have placed, deserving or not, on those who did not provide the support that I needed. I have chosen to release this burden from my heart and forgive. I forgive myself for harboring so much anger and resentment for so long. But more importantly, I forgive each and every single person who I felt disappointed by. I never really allowed them to own this, they were never let in on it. And so, I must be fair and find peace in choosing to simply let it go.
This journey on the path of grief has taught me so many things. Today, my lesson is to acknowledge that this path is actually a two way street.