Journey Q & A,
The Q & A
Q: What are the most helpful and touching words that someone has said to you since the loss of your child?
There have been loads of people along that way have said or done something that at that moment touched me. I think on of the most important ones has been my mother in law. Every christmas she has a small ornament wrapped in the brightest paper, labeled to Andrew from Santa. I know because of my conversations with her she trys to very hard to support me. In the beginning she was afraid to mention Andrew's name, afraid of upsetting me, she now is one of the very few who even mentions him. And I adore her for this. -Angie
a long lost friend came back into my life after 10 years. she missed the period of my life where i fell in love, got married, got preggers, cremated my firstborn who was stillborn, have lived dealing with grief since. anyway, she wrote because she found one of my writings online when she was at work one day. she said she sat and read it and cried. she reminded me that her birthday is the same as my son's. we marvelled at the "coincidence" and talked a little about how souls travel together. somehow bridging back to her filled one of the fissures that was left after my son died. it's been the most recent tangible comfort i've had. -Kara
My cousin, Kyla, who was 10 at the time, wrote me a beautiful poem, and it basicly said, " I miss you Amanda Joy, I love you, I will never forget you." And from a 10 year old, who hadn't seen her or anything, it meant so much to me. She is and has always been my closest cousin, but that just cemented my love for her! -Stephanie
Q: How has your sense of fear changed since you lost your child?
WOW this is a biggie for me. As most of you know shortly before Andrew's first anniversary my husband was diagnosed with cancer. This compounded my fears triple fold. It just drove home I have NO control over what can and will happen. Things blindside us. I do not like crowds, I don't like socializing. I have become a home body. Most of relationships online, beside family members. I am very active with BFO (bereaved families of ontario) even then I am on high alert. -Angie
Ha. Do you have a few hours to read this? Look, I was a city child. I grew up riding busses and subways and exploring the city and taking cabs and just being out there. But since Dakota died, I just don't want to do any of it anymore. In fact I sort of dread it. I hate flying for fear of dying when my husband is still here. I don't mind flying together coz if it goes down, probably my hubby and I will die together. Social situations are just so meaningless now that I dread them, too. *EXCEPT* for the MISS Conference where I feel totally in context. I can laugh there and no one thinks I'm "all better now". But regular situation, well, I'm just out of context and uncomfortable. Conversations come up about kids -- and there is the inevitable "how many kids do you have" or "do you want kids" or something. I hate it. Honestly, here's my dream that doesn't involve fear: we live on a couple acres now. it is bursting with Spring around here. i'd like an afternoon of just sitting out there and watching. maybe a little music. maybe a little talking. but just hanging out, no rush, just sitting, laying down, being there. i don't understand what happened and why i can't do that now. back in the college days, right, with alter-states though, we often just hung out on the veranda, did sidewalk chalk art, talked, listened to music. when the hell did all that change? -Kara
I used to be a very outgoing person who was never afraid to talk to anyone, but after the loss of my child I became afraid of crowds, of strangers, and was quiet and reserved around friends and family. Almost five years have gone by and I'm only just now starting to come out of my shell, but I don't know if I'll ever be my 'old self' again in that regard. -Poppy
Q: If you had the opportunity to share with someone who has not lost a child and could not possibly understand the pain and grief we are going through. What would you say??
In the beginning i was really forceful trying to get people to understand this loss, this pain. Now I surround myself only with people who I don't have to explain. And even when I am around people who have never experienced this I don't say anything. There are just some people who don't deserve to know me, to know my truimphs, my heartbreaks. And if they want to know, let them read a book. I had to. -Angie
I don't know. I guess the best you can do is speak your truth. Sometimes people hear it. Sometimes they don't. I have shared our experience with many people who haven't lost a child themselves, and they get it. But usually, they've lost someone or understand being lonely till your heart breaks. Then there are others who are like, "uh, okay, well, that was five years ago, so why would you even be talking about this now?" It's like they don't get how the feelings travel with us. They don't understand that grief is like laughter -- just like I could laugh at a good joke five years ago and still can today -- so too can I ache for my son, then and now. But they don't get it. -Kara
Even though I have never lost a limb, I equate the loss of a child to that sometimes. Except it's not a limb you lose, it's part of your heart and your soul. It never grows back and the void is always there. As time goes by, you learn to function without it, but you're never the same again. -Poppy
Q: Did you feel that your child knew they were going to die, or maybe you knew it subconsiously. Did you feel that you were some how "prepared"?
Yes, I knew it. Well, not consciously exactly. But it had been 24 hours since my son had moved inutero. I got up in the wee hours and made dark black tea and decided I would make him move. He didn't. At that point, I sat on the couch and cried. I pictured the next day at the doctor's office. I knew I would refuse to birth him and would demand a c-section. I knew. But I don't think it prepared me at all. When the next day came, I was fully shocked that it was really happening. The night before, the darkness, the moon, had left me somewhat disconnected from it all. Like I was seeing it, but not part of it yet. But when the morning came and we were in the doctor's office and she said, "kara your baby is dead", suddenly I was whooshed into the scene. Part of me died there that day. -Kara
With Amanda Joy, I had no clue. But with Baby Bean, my miscarriage, I did. From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I couldn't just relax and be happy. I wasn't puking sick and that worried me. To me, a healthy pregnancy is a very sick first trimester. And I just felt that it wouldn't be a good pregnancy until I started throwing up. Of course I never did, and I lost the baby. And afterwards, looking back, I think I was preparing myself for the loss, by not becoming attached to the baby. Somehow I just KNEW that all was not well! -Stephanie
Q: Were you always the strong friend? There when others needed you. How did people react after you lost your child? How did you react to them? Was it hard being in the helpless role if you were (before) always the strong one?
I was always the more stable friend. When that role changed i lost my friends. -Angie
Ha, ha, very funny. Yeah. Why the hell else would I go straight from c-section surgery and the memorial service to writing and publishing books and zines and doing outreach. I couldn't stand being helpless. I sought to learn as much as possible about it all. We lost our son in the Spring. We had created the company KotaPress by the Fall. I think some people saw me go right back to work and creation and so they thought we'd be "over it" and "have closure" soon. But in my heart I knew that starting KotaPress and doing this work, would give me a lifetime of saying my son's name outloud, of evolving to learn to life without him yet with him, and that it would make my parenthood as tangible as is possible in this physical world where normally "seeing is believing" -- if that all makes sense. -Kara
Yes, I was always the strong friend, always there and ready to help when someone needed me. I had many 'speechless' reactions. The best they could do was give me a sympathetic look and hold my hand or give me a hug. I found that comforting because there's really nothing they could've said that would've made me feel better anyway. Just knowing they were there and that they cared was enough. My in-laws reaction was different when we saw them several days later, but I was still in the *numb* phase and wasn't too terribly bothered by their ignorant responses. It makes me upset to think of it now though. -Poppy
Q: How has the death of your child affected the way you moved through the holiday season?
We continued our family traditions-- Advent, decorating, church etc as we always have but this yr we had Madison in our thoughts as we moved thru all of these things wishing she was with us physically. -Heather
This was our second Christmas
without Raeyn, the first
was a blur as
she was born into Heaven on November
9th, 2002. It was very emotional
trying to include her in
any and every part of our
Q: During the holidays did you do anything special to honor your child's memory and/or to include him/her as part of a larger family celebration or gathering? If so, what did you do?
My Mom and I hang a stocking for Charles every year and place little love notes inside of it. I also purchase an angel ornament to add to the collection of angels that rest around his urn in my room. I consider my holidays to start in October, because that is Infant Loss Awareness month. I participate in the annual Walk to Remember memorial program and balloon release through a local hospital. November is extra special, because it's Charles' birthday anniversary. Thanksgiving used to be quite depressing for the first two years of my loss; however, now I use that day as a time of reflection. I find thanks in the small things and big things in life, like the amazing support I've received from wonderful friends that are also bereaved parents. The more I move forward with my grief, the more enjoyable Christmas and other holidays have become once again for me. I never thought I'd enjoy Christmas again. The past two years have been very nice in that regard. I still have my good days with my bad moments and vise versa, but I'm a survivor and I'm doing okay. -Katie
Again, I hung a stocking for her,we lit a candle and bought her a bouquet of flowers to represent her at our dinner table. It's amazing too...the flowers are still alive today. -Keny
Q: We all know that grief changes over time. If you had to really look at what your first bereaved week was like compared to today (regardless of how far out from the date of death you are), what could you say about how grief has changed for you?
I've learned to grow with my grief and learn from it. The first week felt like life was over for good. It was dark, cold and very lonely. I feel much more warmth now and see much more light. I never thought I'd see the day where I would find more sun than rain. Grief was more like an enemy during that first week, now grief is more like a life long partner. -Katie
The first week I was numb and just went thru the motions of everything. I honestly don't know how things got done. The grief will always be there but I have had a 9 month look at things and with lots of help, prayer etc. I do find joy in my heart that my daughter is in heaven. This does not mean that I don't wish she was here with me. I wish she was every day. My grief has been tripled with the loss of my Dad in Sept and my Grandma in Oct. All 3 within 6 months has been so hard to deal with. -Heather
Grief has changed in that it is much more overwhelming how than it was then. At the beginning I was doing everything I could to run from the pain and loss. I was also very very very full of guilt and blame toward myself and my body. I hated myself and was very angry at myself. These feelings prevented me from really dealing with loss -- People say to turn and face the pain -- that it is the only way through it but I think that is a very very very difficult thing to learn to do. I am much better at finding ways to escape. So I am trying to learn to change grief from being about me to being about how I feel about living without Lily. -Mel
Q: If money and time and schedules and other people were of no concern :) what is the one thing you would most like to do on this earth before you die?
I'd like to make a difference in my future children's lives and in the lives of other people's children that I help. -Katie
I would like to own and run a women's shelter, training program that would teach parenting, cooking, crafts, job skills, health care, to disadvantaged women as well as community leaders. -Mel
Q: Are you able to tell other people how you really and truly feel on any given day? If no, why not?
Yes, and sometimes I feel like they get sick of hearing it...LOL! I am not shy to express my feelings to anyone. -Katie
Absolutely not. I don't even tell other greiving parents how I feel. I am ashamed at myself for being the way I am and feeling the way I feel. -Josie
Nope. I'm a big fat liar to most people -- even my closest family and friends. Why??? Because I'm deficient in being able to trust people with my emotions. I expect too much and am crushed by disappointment so I'd rather just keep it to myself. This is not helpful -- and I am trying to change -- plus it's a really bad example to my boys.
We'll have more Q & A next month...
the Kota Discussion Group