Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sobbing in the Kitchen

I am not very feeling very effective today. All I can manage to do is read blogs and sob in my kitchen. I did find a lovely piece from NPR about how you want a physicist to speak at your funeral. It prompted more sobbing, but it's so beautiful, it's really worth a read. I found it at the blog Lazy Seamstress

You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. 

You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.
And at one point you'd hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.
And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.
And you'll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they'll be comforted to know your energy's still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you're just less orderly. Amen.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Capture Your Grief: Day 8

Day 8: Jewelry

This is a peridot that my best friend gave me. It's Chiara's birthstone. I've worn it every day since she gave it to me. I find myself touching it a lot as I wear it.

Capture Your Grief: Days 6 and 7

Day 6: What NOT to Say

I've been pretty lucky. People have been mostly kind. The worst thing that's happened to us is that a colleague I ran into 2 days after losing our daughter said NOTHING. She acted like nothing happened at all. I was shocked. She'd signed the office card. I knew she knew, but for whatever reason, she couldn't acknowledge our loss. It was very painful. We were in a public park, taking a walk before a support group meeting. I went under a tree and cried, and thought, so this is how it is going to be: people will pretend it didn't happen. I'm pretty sure that I knew this before, but now I will never forget: all you have to say is, I'm sorry for your loss. How hard is that?

Day 7: What to Say

My friend Tania said this. It was over a month after Chiara died, and as she said it, she burst into tears. Then I burst into tears. It was the most beautiful, kind thing that someone has said to me. I will always be grateful to her for being brave and sharing my grief. 

Say Her Name

A friend emailed me last week to say that she had had a dream about Chiara (sounds like: Key-are-uh). I was so grateful to read her name: Chiara. We don't say it often. When I do say her name, it makes me cry. It opens the wound. But still, it feels so good. It is proof that she was here with us, that someone else besides us remembers her. I am so afraid anytime someone asks her name, I have to muster my strength to reply, and it always comes with tears. It makes me feel very vulnerable.

But I do love it when someone says her name to me. I love it when Justin and I use her name with each other. Stellan, our 2 year old, doesn't know her name yet. We have not been brave enough to tell him, have not progressed beyond "baby sister". I just haven't been ready to hear her name on his lips. We have weathered the questions about where she is, does she like to eat blueberries, does she drive a car, and why can't she be with us. I have watched his face, which used to light up with the mention of his baby sister, used to shine with the wonderful secret of her impending birth, change to reflect the confusion he feels. Why no baby sister? She wasn't growing. Why not? Why not, indeed. I want her, he says. I want her too, I tell him.

This coming weekend we'll attend a walk in remembrance of lost babies and I think that's where we'll introduce her name to him. I'm really looking forward to seeing other couples and families and being able to just be who we are, be sad, and to remember our beautiful girl: Chiara.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Integration: the work of grief

I'm 41 years old. I've had some grief in my life. I lost my Dad at 56 years old, 2 uncles, 4 grandparents, numerous friends and classmates. I've sought counseling when the going got hard. I hadn't heard about integration, though. Now I hear it from my therapist, from the support group leader, in books and videos about losing a child. Integration: this is a familiar word that I am now learning has another meaning.

As time passes and the weeks as a babylost mom add up, the starkness of the situation fades a bit. If I'm not paying attention, it can seem so normal, so much like life before, at least in the macro sense (and if you don't count all the wailing and sobbing). I am checking off tasks each day. Some mundane: laundry, groceries, mother our son, go to work, feed the dogs, pay the bills. But then, some things that we are only doing because we lost our baby girl: confirm the minister for her memorial service, go to the post mortem meeting with the maternal fetal medicine specialist, book a room for the service and dinner afterwards. Next I'll be searching for readings and finding a suitable invitation for the service. All of these I am glad to do. They are all I can do for Chiara now. But as I click through the list, feeling somewhat productive, it occurs to me how awful it is, that these are the tasks I am focused on this fall. In between the therapist appointments, the support group, the acupuncture, the doctor's appointments, there are all these little details borne out of wanting to honor her memory.

I see that charting my path through these tasks begins the work of integrating her loss into the fabric of my life, of my being. This means accepting her death, while still craving her presence inside me.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Capture Your Grief- Days 2 and 3

Day 2: Self portrait before loss

This is a photo from Mother's Day 2012. Chiara was our secret at this point, ~2 months gestation. I felt so damn happy, so excited, so special. There is so much pride and joy that comes along with pregnancy. In the first days after Chiara died, I felt so foolish to remember that prideful feeling. It felt like hubris after the fact, whereas in the moment, it felt like it came from love.

Day 3: Self portrait after loss

This is a picture from October 2nd, taken at Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, MA. We used to live down the street from here. We moved last year. I've walked this beach in joy and sorrow, rain and snow and sun. It's a special place for us. On this day, we'd just come from our final meeting with the specialist to go over Chiara's autopsy results. We were on our way to visit the Inn where we will hold her memorial service on December 16th, her due date. A grey and dreary day, filled with difficult tasks, but all went as well it could go.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Capture Your Grief Project- Day 1

In honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month 2012 I am going to take part in the Capture Your Grief Project. Find more about it here:

Day 1: Sunrise

This is the sunrise seen from my morning walk. I've walked an hour every day since Chiara died. That adds up to over 155 miles in the past 7 weeks.