Grief Journey Q & A, Pt. X
Compiled by Kota Discussion Group

In Honor and Loving Memory of Our Children

Editor's Intro:
The creator of this Grief Journey Q & A was Stephanie Marrotek; the current coordinator is Poppy Hullings who posts questions once a day or week or month and invites all members of our online discussion & support group to post answers. Some answer only to the group, some members have elected to share their insights in a more public way through this column as well. Our hope is that you will find some spark of inspiration or comfort or help here. These words are not offered as prescription for the ways we "should" handle grief. These are just insights into how others are managing day by day after the death of a child.

The Q & A

This month's q&a turned out to be more of an "assignment" if you will. One of our online members was taking a class where the professor had them write about their "Emotional Mansions". When everyone in group read the assignment, we all decided to take up the challenge. So here's the assignment and below are the creative writing responses from our online Kota Group Discussion Members!!

My Emotional Mansion - Begin by writing the opening line “Welcome to my emotional mansion.” Then develop a different emotion in each room; for instance, the attic could be your thinking or private room, the basement your anger room, a locked closet your fear room, and so forth. On a blank piece of paper begin writing -- or on a blank screen start typing -- rather rapidly without worrying about how the words come out.


Christine - The three main rooms in my emotional mansion are jealousy, survival, and anger.

The jealousy room is a very green room, every object is green. There are books about pregnancy and newborns that I cannot get into because they are behind locked glass. I can see them but can't read them. There are closets full of old maternity clothes, a crib, and baby toys that are also locked away. When I am in this room, I feel very alone, very isolated. I feel chained to this room, I feel like I spend so much time in this room. I want to leave it but find it very difficult to . Someday I want to be able to lock this door and never open it again.

The anger room is very dark. The shades are always drawn, no lights are on. There is just one hard chair in the middle of the room, with a punching bag nearby. I scream alot in this room, I hit the bag. I try and release as much anger as I can. I notice I come in here alot less than I used to but there are days I still come in, usually after I leave the jealousy room.

The survival room is a room I was surprised by. I didn't think I would ever come in here but now find I spend alot of time here. It helps me to read the library of books on other parents and mothers who have survived.  There are lots of comfy blankets that I can wrap myself in. There is an aquarium that brings me peace. There is a small pool that I can immerse myself into and let the water just rinse everything away. This room allows me to make it one more day
and go into the rest of the world and live life again.

Stephanie - The three biggest rooms in my emotional mansion are Fear, Denial and Acceptance.

Acceptance is the hardest room to go into. For it is here that I have to leave fear and denial at the door. In this room are soft beds with downy white comforters, and big white couches to rest in. It is alot of work to find this room, so when I get here, I need to rest. The music playing in this room is peaceful and serene. One of the main focuses in the room is the firepace in the center of the room. This fireplace is where all the bad things have to go. There is a huge picture window surrounded by gauzy white curtains, and to stand and look out the window is breathtaking, for the view is amazing. If you look into the distance you can see a terribly windey road fraught with clifts and drops offs, and the road winds down to a flat barren plain that stretches for miles, but slowly and softly gives way to a beautiful meadow that extends to the house. Another object in this room is a large journal. But once you write upon a page and turn to the next, you can never turn back. This is my acceptance room.

My favorite room is the Denial room. I love to go in there and escape from reality. There is a computer, with high speed internet access, food at my reach, a babysitter for Charlie, and lots and lots of houseplants and scrapbooking things. This is where I go to forget all the bad things in my life. But it is a little dark in here, and I am always searching for a lamp, which is never to be found. But here in my denial room, there are many many photos, of only happy people. There is nothing sad here....but undertones of depression do linger. The main color of this room is blue and the music here is lively but dark. 

My last room is my Fear room. This room is black, and it is hard to see where you are going. The objects in this room are big and shaped like monsters or ghosts. The music playing is gothic and frightening. The furniture is all uncomfortable and too small. And the photos are blurry and uncertain. There are no windows and finding the door again to get out, is next to impossible. Here in my fear room is my past, and the chains that bind me to it.

Katie - Welcome to my emotional mansion.  There are three very important rooms in this mansion:  my peace room, my war room, and my neutral room. 

My peace room is my favorite room.  It is filled with lots of sunlight that bring in pleasant and positive vibes to fill my soul with peace.  It is the room where I make peace with my own demons and peace with outside influences that may be negative or cause negativity.  I find forgiveness in this room in the novels of truth that rest on the bookshelf.    

Unlike the peace room, my war room is not a happy place.  This is a room where I fight with the negativity in my life.  I struggle in this room searching for a way out to find peace.  I feel chained sometimes.  I feel like I'm suffocating as if I were in hell.  There is a pool in this room.  It is not a relaxing pool.  If I get as far as the pool, I sometimes feel like I'm a duck that can't swim struggling to stay afloat...paddling my weary legs to find stability.  

My neutral room is the room where I find a happy medium.  In this room, I do not completely find peace, but I do not fight the demons either.  I find reasoning in this room to understand and deal with both negative and positive aspects of life.  I do not dwell on the past in this room; however, I may not find forgiveness either.  I just learn to let go and let things be be neutral.  Some things can not be changed in life, so I must stay neutral on some subjects.  

My emotional mansion can be complex in each room like life itself.  

Tiara - In my emotional mansion there are three rooms. Melancholy, Happiness and Love

The Melancholy Room is long, quiet, dark and cold. When I walk into this room, I am always wearing period clothing. Something that a governess would wear, dark and drab, complete with a corset and lace up boots. My hair is always darker too, pulled back into a very tight bun that always gives me a headache. Because of my clothing, it is always hard to breathe in this room. I always feel drained of energy. Thick dusty drapes cover floor to ceiling windows all along the far wall. Amazingly shards of light show on the ceiling and occasionally along the length of the window coverings. These rays of light are the only things keeping the Melancholy Room from being pitch black. Across from the wall of windows, is the fireplace. The Mantle has ornate carvings of flowers and vines all along the top and down the sides. The fireplace itself is large enough for me to walk into. Covered in soot and never lit, it is barren and cold. No wood, no pokers. Nothing. I often spend time standing there, and kicking the soot from fires past with my boots. Each click of my heels sends little clouds of dust into the air. Sometimes there isn’t a sound in the room, but the click of my heels on the wood floor as I pace along the length of the room or the howling of the wind outside the windows. Sometimes, I sit on the single piece of furniture, a settee with charcoal gray fabric, placed exactly in the middle of the room. If I need music, it will play from the speakers in the ceiling, suddenly and for as long as I want it too. Jazz, R & B, Beethoven, or Violent Femmes. Whatever I want, it is playing. While it plays softly or loudly, depending on the music, I sit on my settee and work on my frown lines, just staring into space and crying on the inside. Others have required of me that I be silent, and the Melancholy Room is where I go to practice that and grieve for the son they don’t want me to talk about. When I was very first thrust into this room, it was my home for over a year. Finally I was able to fight and claw my way out of this room. There are still scratches from my nails along the doorway. From that room, I found the Happiness Room.

There is a window in the Happiness Room, with light blue, lacy curtains on it. I can see the green trees, grass and curbside outside of this room, and often I am touched by the spring breezes. It is where I keep the façade of my smiling face, hanging on a nail on the wall. Sometimes I smile for real in this room because I can reach out to the world. It is the opportunity room, equipped with my desk, computer and telephone. The place where I make my plans for a better life. The place where I pretend to come to terms with the possibility of never being a mommy to a living child. That is when I use my façade the most. When I am only pretending to be happy. When I first came to this room, I used my façade constantly. Now I only use it occasionally, like on Mother’s Day when all of the ‘mothers’ get presents, but me. In the corner of this room, there is also a shower stall. I go there when I feel ‘dirty’ after using my façade. When I feel that I’ve been disloyal to my son, because I didn’t make a fuss on Mother’s Day, or when I tell someone that I don’t have any kids, because to say that I have one that is dead will make me run for the Melancholy Room, and I don’t always want to be there. Sometimes I like to breathe. Often when I am in this room, I will hear tapping at the door. Little tiny rat-tat-tats will assault my hearing. I never answer the door, when the I hear those taps, because I know that evil little doubt monsters are there. Their sole purpose is to drag me back to the Melancholy Room, by my hair. They like to see me in my catatonic state. It gives them power. And even with my fake face on, I don’t want to give them power. If I choose when to go to the Melancholy Room, I maintain power over them. Something I haven’t always had.

The third room is the Love room. There is a skylight in the middle of the ceiling that illuminates the entire room, day or night for some reason. It is painted pink, with red hearts of all shapes and sizes dotting the walls. Here there are pictures of Patrick, Apollo and Keevah. This is also where I keep a dresser full of Colin Michael’s mementos. I keep the pregnancy books, in the bottom drawer, where I normally don’t look at them. I put his clothes in the top drawer. The rest of the drawers are empty. On top of the dresser I have stacked my PCOS books, because I want to read to make sure that I’ll be healthy for Patrick, Apollo and Keevah. This is not something that is important to me when I am in the Melancholy Room, so sometimes I am playing catch-up. There is a big comfy couch in that room. Huge and blue. Next to the couch is a table with a stereo on it. There are CDs on the table and piled neatly around the table and blocking some of the couch. In this room, I am always listening to music, normally cheesy love songs from the 70’s and 80’s. There are no visible doors in this room. Because the only way to get out is through one of two secret doors. Each leads to one of the other rooms, and I can never quite remember which one leads where. But I always know that at any moment the fancy may strike me and I will choose a door, and accept my fate.


Shannon - This is therapeutic but makes no sense....except to me...:) Warning made...

In my emotional mansion you will find many rooms but 3 main rooms.
Darkness, Justice and Tolerance.

The first is dark. There are many that branch off from this room, but this is the root of all of them. At its heart is a sculpture like a glass ant. It is nearly completely dark except for a fireplace which sheds light on a map stretched out over a table. spiders crawl across it and fight here. In it are journals of things said and things done and they are written in purple chalk and wrinkled with tears. There are cupboards and doors I must not open here.

The next room has an extensive library. With vaulted ceilings there is a nice sound to it as you walk in. It is being repaired froma powerful storm that rocked it. There is a pool of holy water, but goldfish live there with many shiny pennies. Pictures adorn the sides and there is carpeting on the floor...the floor has marks where someone has been pacing. All the clocks are wrong here.

The final room is covered with posters. Some of events, some of stars, some of places. There is a large nude statue holding glass with food on it (apples, grapes, cheese, etc). Music is blaring and there are dogs on the furniture. There is a punching bag and a policeman is holding a gun near it. tie dyed bean bags are te only real furniture here. In here, you can scream, and it is only heard by you.


Kara - Welcome to my emotional mansion. You have my permission to tour three rooms here.

The first is my "at peace" place. This place is actually a large covered front porch with a big sturdy swing bench on it and stairs that lead down to a pool made of red clay. The water in the pool is warm or cool as you wish. The porch is always breezy and comfortable. The swing has big cushioned pillows on it so that you can curl up comfortably on it. There are no dangerous things here, so you can be barefoot and naked if you like. There is so much room on the porch that you can do yoga out there -- really stretch out your arms for the Elephant and never touch a thing. It is a private area -- no neighbors or others to bother you, but there is no barbed fence or anything -- just a huge ring of forest trees with the distant sound of ocean surf to keep you protected.

The next area you may roam is my "Huntress" place. This is again outside, behind a house, a piece of land next to a fast rushing stream that is fed by the melting snow of a nearby mountain. There are stepped pieces of land going down to the water. The water is cold, clear, and shocking. There are lots of rocks around for you to noisily throw into the water for making big, loud, angry splashes. There is a nook where some of the water way spills over. And in this nook, you will often find carved spears and other tools that have been left for you by the huntress of these lands. If you take the time to really talk to the fish, ask them questions, then they often answer by popping a gem of some sort out of their mouths. Very often there are greens around that are edible and have a healing property. If you are respectful, the huntress will show you how to survive here.

The last part of this tour will go inside the house to the dark wood kitchen. It is cozy and warm in here with a table built next to a wall bench nook -- the nook covered in pillows so it is comfortable to curl up here, too. This area is for nourishment of all kinds. Food, obviously. Always homemade and good for you -- including things like creamy tomato soup or fresh berries and cream. But also there are books, music, window, kleenex, bells, candles and more here. In this room you can be sad, fearful, helpful, intuitive, inquisitive, happy, noisy, silly, anything you want and need to be. And the result of emotions expressed here will always be something constructive in the end.


We'll have more Q & A next month...

About the Kota Discussion Group
This is a discussion and support group held online thru the free services of Yahoo Groups. Stephanie Marrotek is the host of the Grief Journey Q & A. The full group is moderated by the staff of KotaPress. The answers given in this Q & A were offered by the generous hearts of the members of our online group. We cannot thank you enough for your candor and honesty.

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