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Archive for February, 2013

Grief and Loss

When I was pregnant I dropped a glass and it shattered. In the process of trying to clean up the glass, I stepped on some and managed to lodge a piece deep into my foot. The doctor said it was too deep for him to retrieve in the office and that it would require surgery to remove. Since it was glass, it is an inert substance and would not cause an infection and would not break down and would likely not cause much of a problem other than discomfort. However, anesthesia would be a serious problem for the pregnancy. So, weighing out risks vs benefits — the glass would stay in my foot until after I delivered the baby in December.

 

When I delivered the baby, he was sick, I was sick and we couldn’t do it because we couldn’t get to it. Then, when the baby was 2 months old I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis and I was told that there would never be elective surgery for me. It is just too risky. This piece of glass in my foot is classified as elective … and so it stayed. Eventually, I learned to walk without putting pressure on the place where the glass was and I pretty much forgot about it except for here and there (usually once or twice a week) when I would step on it and a sharp pain would let me know it is still there. It was a bit uncomfortable if I thought about it, but I was able to ignore it most of the time. But there was this feeling that there was something not quite right with the side of my right foot.

 

It stayed there … and 3 years later it was still there. Not causing an issue but managing to send sharp pain signals to my body every few days when I stepped on it just wrong. Then it started to work its way out .. and as it did it became a bit more painful. In the space of about 3 days it managed to work it’s way to the surface and as it ruptured the surface the pain was sharp and intense. But then — immediately this dull ache that had been there for more than 3 years dissipated and pressure relieved and what was left was little more than what a pimple would have left. In 2 days time there was no evidence of several years of discomfort.

 

This last weekend I attended a seminar on Grief and Loss. It brought up some painful and uncomfortable feelings. It reminded me of things buried in my heart that for the most part sit like a dull ache until something causes them to be hit … and then the sharpness of their pain reminds me they are real … and then they go back to the dull ache again.

 

In the days following my step fathers death there were things said that cut sharp

“he was *just* your step father.”

“God will work things out”

Within weeks I was told

“Get over it already”

one person said “look, he chose to die, I don’t know why you’re so upset, he wasn’t even related to you.”

 

He’d married my mom when I was 13 months old — he *was* my Dad!

 

Years later we were expecting our first child. One day we were told it was a girl. We chose the name Jessica Dawn. A week later — she was gone. Born too soon to survive — and the doctors said I would never have another (they were obviously wrong, but we did not know that yet)

And we heard

“God must have needed her more than you”

“There must have been something really wrong, so God took her home”

“It is God’s will”

“You’ll have more”

 

 

I learned to hide my grief. I learned that no one wants to listen to the tears of a daughter who feels lost and alone — or a mother whose arms feel empty.

 

Suicide

loss of a step parent

loss of a child born too early

 

these are all things that we, as a society do not mourn well —

 

In this seminar there was discussion by the guest speaker about just such grief. It’s called Disenfranchised Grief — a Grief that cannot be openly expressed because the death or other loss cannot be publicly acknowledged.

In today’s world there are many losses we brush away because they are uncomfortable or we think that there is no real connection, no reason to mourn past a day or 2:

Suicide

Still birth

Miscarriage

Step parents /Step children

Cousins (or other extended family)

Deaths due to drug addiction or alcoholism

Loss of a very old relative

The loss of a foster child

Divorce

 

 

 

As the speaker spoke of this … I felt the sharp pain of the losses, sharper than I’d felt in a long time. It felt strange because I thought I’d gained so much healingĀ  — to feel these so acutely was alarming.

Then he said something — and he said it softly and gently “This grief is valid”

 

and it was like the glass popping through my foot .. the sharpness cut .. but then relief .. sweet sweet relief of healing. My grief was real .. and acknowledged by someone who didn’t even realize he was doing so .. he gave it a name. And in giving it a name, he gave it validation and in validation came healing. I will always ALWAYS miss my Step Father

I will always ALWAYS wonder what it would have been like to have been able to raise Jessica Dawn and miss her.

 

but the pain is relieved.

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