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Parents of lost babies and potential of all kinds: come here to share the technicolour, the vividness, the despair, the heart-broken-open, the compassion we learn for others, having been through this mess — and see it reflected back at you, acknowledged and understood.

Thanks to photographer Xin Li and to artist Stephanie Sicore for their respective illustrations and photos.

for one and all > Feeling Judged and failing at finding peace

I suffered the loss of my full term only daughter 17 days after birth 18 months ago. I have a 7 yo son and a recently also had a first trimester miscarriage 3 months ago and am dealing with age related infertility. . I have struggled with triggers - especially being around pregnant women or baby girls since. While it is softening, I try to avoid the situation since it is still physical at times ( heart races, stomach feels sick). I have personal therapy with my spouse and attend a support group where I have been assured it takes years not months for these to pass.

A close family member wrote this to me today in an e-mail after I was very upset as to what I felt was an insensitive way of being told she is pregnant. "When I see you, you make it clear how very unhappy you are and how you seem oblivious to all the wonderful miracles and life opportunities God presents you with every day. It seems as though you look for ways to make a situation upsetting to you instead of looking for the joy".

Every day, since having to watch my daughter die slowly over 17 days, ultimately suffocating on her own bile, I have gotten out of bed, gone to work, showed compassion to my elderly patients, cared for my son and spouse, and tried to let joy come in - even if its just noting the sun shining or a red bellied robin (the birds my daughter sends) appearing at a strange time. I do yoga, meditate, and exercise.

Apparently, I am failing at recovering as this is how I am perceived. Am I failing at finding peace? Will these triggers ever get better? I am in a lot of pain, feeling judged by those who I need to support this new me. Has anyone else experienced these emotions? Needing support today.
February 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKim
You are not doing this wrong. You are doing all and more than should be expected. I'm so very sorry your daughter died. It changes everything! Without feeding your anger too much, I hope, this is a very insensitive remark. Very ignorant, meaning having no knowledge of what they are speaking of. Yes, people get angry that we can't put aside the grief, even for a short time. Well, so do we. But it is not the kind of emotion that can be set aside. You can have other emotions with it, like joy and peace and anger, but always the grief is there. I hope there is a little peace in your evening.
February 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJill A.
Kim, I'm so sorry you lost your sweet girl and that you aren't getting the support you need from those who are close to you. I too lost a full-term baby and am older and that is a special kind of sucky. So, I hear you.
Your relative's words strike a nerve in me too - the fear that I've lost the ability to fully appreciate the joy and beauty in life. But I reject her words for both of us (all of us). When you go through what we have, the world loses a little bit of it's magic and shine. It just does. But that doesn't mean we aren't happy, or joyful, or grateful. We are all those things - and sad too. And maybe someday the full shine returns. I don't know. But by definition finding peace means you don't yet have it, so you are not failing at anything.
I don't know your relative but it seems like she had an idea of how she wanted you to react and has lashed out because she didn't get the reaction she was hoping for. If you can, remember that her perception of you is mostly colored by her hurt feelings - it's not a faithful representation of who you are now. Hopefully this will work itself out and she can give you some of the support you need from her. Hugs to you, mama.
February 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMaeve, Will, and Jacob's Mom
Kim, I am so sorry for your heartbreak. We each grieve differently, and granting ourselves that time and space is a gift. And receiving that gift from another is a precious thing. But not everyone understands that. Sometimes I need to also grant that to the others around me who are not as sensitive to my needs and emotions right now. I remind myself they did not mean to offend me, (hopefully) and even if they did I cannot find peace when I am angry, no matter how much justification I may have for it. I wonder what would happen if you had that discussion with your family member - if she were to see your post here and feel your pain at the words she wrote?

I am still in the throes of this (our granddaughter will be born in a few weeks, and we don't expect to have longer than minutes with her), so I don't know if I am the correct person to offer an answer, but your question is one that has haunted me since we found out about Baby Alyssa's condition. I wonder if I need to reconsider my definition of peace. Sometimes I think it is a constant feeling of joy, happiness, serenity, acceptance. etc. But I am coming to learn that peace (for me) seems to comes in simple moments - not as often as I would like, but enough to give me hope. Much like a quiet soft rain.

I remember years ago when I was seeking peace (in a much different heartbreaking trial) and I came to understand then that the more I chased peace the more it eluded me. One day we took our family to a zoo with a butterfly garden. Those who ran around trying to capture the butterflies in their hands were always disappointed. But when we sat still, quietly inviting them to our outstretched hand, we often were surprised at the delicacy of their landing - usually in places we did not expect - our shoulders, knees, noses, heads. Peace, for me, is like that. I have to stop chasing it and simply allow myself to be in a place (physical, mental, spiritual, emotional) where it can find me. I express gratitude when I feel it, and patience, hope, and trust that it will come again, when I do not feel it.

I love this quote by Mother Theresa (and have it in a prominent place at my office) "Peace begins with a smile." For me, right now, after (and even during) the tears and grief filled moments (days, weeks, months - and years to come) I need to remember to smile (even if only internally) in order to allow peace to find me. I hope my ramblings are of some comfort to you. They have helped me. I am in the process of sewing our angel baby's 'going away gown' at this very moment, so this distraction and contemplation of peace has helped me to dry some of the tears, eat another piece of chocolate, and go back to my sewing. Hugs to you. May you feel peace in your deepest grief. May we all.
February 11, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterC
Hey Kim,

I am so sorry you lost your baby girl and had a miscarriage... I am so scared of suffering another loss. My baby girl survived 13 days and those two weeks were pretty horrendous, as you put it, slowing watching her die. A couple of months after we buried our baby my brother announced him and his wife were pregnant with #3, and holy f*ck I went nuts... my brother told my I shouldn't be anything but happy for other people because babies are a gift.. like I didn't know that or something... anyway I am terrified they are going to have a girl. It's something no one understands unless they have been there. To see another newborn.. with tiny hands and feet and movements and smell is just so hard to handle, but for people that have not been through it, and especially if it's their first baby, they are in their bubble of excitement which they are entitled to be in but that's just it, they are in their bubble.

I've never been religious, I'm not even baptised and neither is Tilly.. my partner is and the only reason we didn't get her baptised is because we didn't want to wait for the priest and make her suffer even more. I struggle to find peace and accept what's happened to my daughter and us, when five children a day die from child abuse, and countless children are suffering abuse and neglect all over the world.

I don't even know where I am going with this.. but you are doing a great job to get up and go to work everyday and to be kind to people.
February 11, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTilly's mum
I want to thank everyone for your support. Each one of you has a different experience with loss but so much feels the same - the pain, the struggle to find peace, to redefine peace, the triggers, PTSD, and just making it one day to the next. I am so sorry for all of your losses. It's all so unfair. Each one of your comments has helped soothe me and provided valuable insight.

I realized what was so hurtful to me about the comments my relative made, is that they were shaming me for being vulnerable and exposing the pain I am still in. And they are just not true. I was not perfect before my daughter died, and I for sure am messed up now. But I am learning to carry the grief. And I am so grateful for the opposite of shame - the empathy that so many of my friends, and new loss friends have provided. It's the empathy that brings me peace. I am grateful for the ones who don't judge me, don't shame me, and can sit with me in it, like you all. Thank you.
February 11, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKim
Kim,

I hope this is not too forward of me, but your family's member's email sounds like bullsh*t to me. I feel insulted and offended on your behalf, on my behalf, and for all mothers who are navigating this unexpected, unwanted path. You are not failing in any way, dear Kim. You are not failing one bit. And you are correct for feeling judged, b/c it does sound like that family member is judging you. To expect you, or anyone in your shoes, to find the joys in life when your only daughter DIED... I can't even handle my sassy thoughts right now. I think your family member should just feel grateful that she is not the one in this horrible situation. I applaud you for being honest with your grief.

I think you might like this article: https://abedformyheart.com/grateful-and-grieving/

It's all about that dance between joy and sorrow, being grateful while grieving. I've even sent that link to others in my life, in an attempt to be better understood. Luckily for your family member, she does not understand the grief you're facing. I know if someone said anything to me about how I need to appreciate the miracles God has put in my life, my inner monologue would be something along the lines of, "Hmmm, well, I did have a miracle with my pregnancy with my daughter, but I suppose God decided not be so miraculous for her and for me after all." I mean, come on. How could anyone expect you to be Pollyanna in light of losing your child? I wish I could offer a more well-rounded response, but all I can think is that (1) you are not failing, and (2) I can't believe the audacity of anyone to say what that family member said to you. Shame on her. I'd have trouble ever speaking to her again.

Hang in there, Kim. It's so hard, I know. I must say, when you mentioned that you care for elderly people, all I could think was, "WOW." You are impressive whether or not you realize it, or whether or not family and friends acknowledge it. Hugs to you.
February 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNM
NM,

You summed it all up - it is bullsh*t! You validated many of my feelings about what she wrote. Yes - easy for her to judge when her two girls are alive and asleep in their beds. Thank you for sharing that link. I am more grateful than ever - just making one day to the next. I don't think I can speak to her in the short term. Sending hugs back.
February 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKim
That's a ridiculous thing for her to write, and like many others have said, I take this comment personally as well. If she is a good mother and has any empathy at all she should not raise an eyebrow at the idea of being somewhat unhappy forever after losing a baby. This should be a universal truth that all mothers understand. I have found that as you suggested, ignoring the people in my life who have been the least helpful has been the best course of action. The first week or two is frustrating because all I want to do is send nasty emails and texts, but once that settles down, there is an amazing calm about removing them from your life. I have replaced conservation with them with interactions on Glow and with other baby loss mamas. As depressing as that sounds, I am better for it right now.
February 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAbby
Abby,

Yes this should be a truth all mothers can understand - that losing your child makes you forever a little bit unhappy. The reality for me is I have been doing the work, and making choices based on what comforts me, and I do believe I am learning to carry this pain. I agree with you, and have wanted to explain and defend my grief, send a nasty email back, but have deferred. Someone with such a lack of empathy just won't see it any way but their own. I hope some calm will soon take over. Thank You. And I am so sorry we all have to go through this.
February 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKim
Ugh Kim, I want to smack this family member of yours in the face. How dare she?!

Re triggers, I am only now finding it easier to be around pregnant women and baby girls (and I've had two rainbows). There is no set timeline obviously but damn- its far too early for anyone to expect anything from you!!

You are not failing at this. You are winning. You are breathing, you are plodding along, you are working, you are taking care of business. You are NOT failing. Don't let one person's stupidity bring you down. If you have to, cut them loose. And just keep on keeping on lovely lady.
February 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterShelby's Mum
100% agree with NM and others above--that is total bull. She is lucky it wasn't her, and lucky that you still speak to her.
February 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJM