Gratitude through grief

When I lost my dad eight years ago, I was a daughter mourning her father. My mother was mourning her husband, and my grandmother/aunt/cousins mourned him in their own way according to the relationship they had with him.

As I mourn Henry’s death, I feel so fortunate to be grieving the loss of the same relationship with my partner. I hate having something so painful in common with him, but we draw a lot of comfort from each other. He has been my rock, and a constant source of love and support.

We’re together, but separate, mourning in our own individual ways. Some people pour themselves in to work to restore a sense of control and normalcy after something as devastating as losing a child. My partner had no choice but to start working pretty much right away because of deadlines, etc. I can’t do that, but I’m lucky to be a freelance writer with a bit of cash in the bank to help me coast for a little while. This means I don’t have to rush back to a job if I’m not ready, and my editors are kind enough to give me the time I need to feel ready to write professionally again (if any of you are reading this, thank you from the bottom of my heart).

I rely on my fingers to fly across the keyboard for my livelihood. But in the first days after learning Henry’s diagnosis, and the days following his delivery and death, I couldn’t make sense of my computer. I misspelled everything, got confused, and just closed up shop, only writing to a few friends to tell them the news. I let go of all of my commitments (even a beloved pottery class), and just existed (I don’t mean to sound like this is in past-tense… I’m still just a breathing, sitting blob).

Through the past two weeks, I have also been floored by the graciousness and generosity of my friends and family. This has been, without a doubt, the most difficult time of my life.

This post is about other things that I am thankful for.

We received a beautiful bouquet flowers from my old workplace, and I don’t know how many meals from friends and family, left innocently on our front porch. And I thank you for each fork-full that I didn’t have to cook myself, each kind thought, and every card that has passed through our door.

Thank you DSF

I’m also very appreciative of my friends, who have been so kind and decent as to leave my partner and I in peace with our pain. We haven’t received any surprise drop-in visits or any mournful, uncomfortable phone calls. We’re still not ready, but we’re getting there, and we thank you so much for your patience while we stay in our cocoon.

We have literally been hiding, spending days in bed. I feel that I’ve made some progress because I’ve been camping out on the sofa rather than our bed – which is getting kindof grimy and full of crumbs. But we’re exhausted, even though our days are very sedentary.

I’m also trying to find the motivation to take care of myself now that I no longer have a baby to keep me eating healthy and exercising. While I was pregnant, Henry gave me every motivation for self-maintenance, like flossing and eating veggies and completely cutting out coffee and wine.

Now that my belly is empty, I find it hard to care whether I eat in a day, floss, or do other regular self-maintenance tasks. I’m thankful for my mom, who has gently urged me to speak with my naturopath to make sure I don’t go completely off the rails, and who is arranging that I get a massage eventually. Maybe one day in the far distant future, I’ll even get a hair cut and go for a walk in the day time.

Lastly, I’m very thankful to whoever is reading my blog. It is my hope that other grieving parents, no matter how you lost your child, reads these so that they feel they’re not alone.

With love and gratitude,

Mel

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8 comments on “Gratitude through grief

  1. Natalie says:

    Would that I knew which porch to leave gifts on… But I am here, listening to you, dear blob. Be well, however long it takes.

  2. brettfish says:

    hey Mel

    thanks for sharing your story – i don’t know you but i do know others who have been through similar [and yet completely different situations] and so it moved me to even read a little of what you have gone through – this may not be the right time for you, but when you feel like it may help [if it ever does] here is a link to some stories some of my friends have shared of their walk through similar [yet different] tragedies – it seems like just knowing others ‘get it’ on a much deeper level than everyone else who is trying to love and be kind the best way they can, is a really helpful thing and i hope it will be for you and your husband so save this until you feel more ready… [http://brettfish.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/taboo-topics-losing-a-baby-intro]

    strength in Him
    love brett “fish”

    • Mel Lefebvre says:

      Brett,
      Thank you for your message. I read one of the posts, and it was like releasing a torrent of frustrated energy that I wasn’t letting myself feel – all the well-intended comments from people saying that we’re young, we can just try again, and, maybe it just wasn’t the right time for us to have a baby. It’s hard to express anger when loved ones say these things to me, because I know they mean well, but seriously, I didn’t lose a puppy, we can’t just replace Henry with another baby to get over it. I hate having something so devastating in common with your friends, but I love reading about them because you’re right, they ‘get it.’

      In short, I appreciate you welcoming me to your blog, I really love that you’re covering taboo subjects so that people like me can feel safe and comfortable expressing ourselves on the not-so-kind Internet.

      Mel

      • brettfish says:

        thanks Mel, really glad it helped – knowing whether to reach out and share the link is a nervous moment [had a facebook friend this week who also suffered a loss] because i have no idea what it is like except what i can imagine… i do know that a lot of the women who shared their stories for me have connected and have a bit of a loose network going so if you ever want to be connected with any of them, let me know who and i can ask if that is something you think might help…

  3. Anonymous says:

    My tears flow as i read your blog…I feel your pain with every word typed here but more because of the fact that I can sense your strength..tears of sadness mixed with tears of “OMG I am so proud of her strength!” tears. I never really got to know you all that well – but all I know is that you have been my brother’s rock for so long when I could not be and I am very thankful you are in this world…my message to you is: If you ever need anything, and I mean ANYTHING even just an open ear to vent you know where to find me hun.

    Big hungs N kisses to You, Tyler and Jordan..
    Lets talk soon,
    Michelle
    xxx ooo

  4. Sophie says:

    Mel – you are constantly in our thoughts – over thanksgiving dinner we said a blessing for you before dinner and I want nothing more than to reach through the Internet and give you a huge gigantic hug – I read this blog every time you post and my heart melts- I love you both!!

  5. Elisabeth Anderson says:

    Mel, take all the time you need to mourn, be a blob, be in a cocoon, and spend time with Tyler. I think you are wise to be doing exactly what your body and mind is telling you to do, which is take time out from the world a bit.

    Those gentle steps you talked about will happen eventually. You’ll push yourself when it feels right to. Take care of you as best you can right now, which is just what you’re doing.

    All my love,

    Lis

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