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.

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