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This is a place for anyone who has felt the loss of a child. Treat this as a communication haven regardless of how or when you felt your loss. My definition of loss: miscarriage at any stage, still birth regardless of week gestation, infant death at any month, and loss of a child even if your child was all grown up. For me they all hold the same root of devestation. None are more profound or more "easily" dealt with than another.

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Grief Season Opens Early...Take Cover

I am in a rut, and not just the literary kind, but an all-encompassing life-sized-rut where motivation and desire seep from you like water through a collander. The transistion was not slow. Almost overnight, it seems, I realized that I am not myself. I stop. I focus my senses.

I can feel the hollowness reattaching itself to me.

I can sense sadness nearby readying its attack..

I can smell memory beginning its annual journey to possess me.

I cringe at the sharp tone escaping my mouth, even as the tears well - again.

On one level, that of a parent who loves their child unconditionally, even if it means that I have to love her through grief; even if it dictates that I allow despair full reign of my being for a spell -I welcome it.

On a more cognitive plane, I'm aware that it is a rotten time to be deabilitated, especially when the world sees no outward change in my movements or activities. A person mis-diagonsed with a sprain when they have truly broken their leg gets no support. A bereaved mother, approaching nine years out, with two happy, healthy, active girls to celebrate is spared little intuition from her friends. It's approaching that time of year again. ~~ I can tell you are feeling a bit down lately, understandably ~~ I remember her every year too...just thought you might like to know.

It would be nice, wouldn't it -- to have our inner gutting be reconginzed before the inevietable scene where I lose it, crying hysterically as I run from a movie theatre for no very good (read: obvious) reason.

It happens every year, not the running-from-a-movie-like-a-lunatic part, but the first part of this post, the bulleted vingettes that shape-shift my personality as Grief Season begins.

It's started early this year. I'm thrown. I have no idea why.

Perhaps you know I write a monthly blog post for the Share National Blog, perhaps not. It runs the first week of each month. Below is what will appear this week. It says what I'm trying to much better than I seem to be able through a keyboard that's not mine, tears falling upon it, and longing to hold my baby girl's heavy, red-lipped body just one more time that is nearly knocking me out of my chair.

Every year I expect it to get just a bit more bearable. It doesn't.

July 2009 – Grief Season Opens Early

“They stocked the stream yesterday” I hear annually. Within hours the fishing poles, tackle and canoe have been unearthed, readied for the next days use.

“Got your license yet?” is the popular question months later as clever deer take cover and less intuitive ones end up in our freezer.

Vermont is known for its seasons and not just the classic four: Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring. No, here we trudge through Mud Season. We sweat through Hay Season. We swat through Black Fly Season. And, this year, the Rainy Season seems to have come to stay.

What is less attended to is Grief Season. This season is a sneaky one. It does not arrive preceded by rain, or mud or sun. There are no marking flowers or distinct temperatures associated with it. No, that isn’t entirely true. If I stop and focus; if I look, listen, and feel the signs are everywhere: a slight chill in the air, the promise of Fall within weeks, leaves starting to look more crisp than the week before, and a slightly red tint on the leaves of Emma’s burning bush.

This is my grief season. Much like J.K. Rowling’s love potion, the signs are different for each of us. Ordinary parts of perfectly good seasons become omens of rough days to come. She was due on the 6th. . I realized she was gone, then labored through a deluded haze on the 7th. She was born on the 8th.

Annually, I have come to recognize these signals, taking emotional cover. Every August, the roughest segment of road appears marked by a bright yellow road sign: CAUTION - SEPTEMBER APPROACHING – 14 DAYS – SHARP TURNS AHEAD.

And yet, is seems my grief season has begun early. Even if the signs are different, its emotional makeover is unmistakable. Without warning my body hurts, aches, head to toe. I am plagued by constant fatigue. My migraines have returned with vengeance. Armed with prescription meds I can keep them at bay, but they are always there ready to attack with the slightest provocation. My mood, so recently light and flexible to match our summer schedule, has become darker, more subdued with the regrettable side effect that I find myself barking at people more and more. Wait! It isn’t time yet. I’m not ready yet. Oh, just breath – I’ll test this theory.

I smell the air. It’s still hot and sticky.

I search the trees. Their leaves still look supple and lively.

I inspect her burning bush. It is pregnant with growth this year, just as green as its neighbor – not a hint of red.

Don’t ask…no, don’t. But I can’t help myself.

Why? Why the shift in schedule? Does this mean it will pass and dissipate earlier than usual too? Doubtful. So, why the assigned extension?

I could attempt to answer this rhetorical query.

Because I am going back to work.
Because this magical year of writing is coming to a tapered end.
Because babies are still dying.
Because my commitments will cause me to be ‘less Emma’s mother’ again
Because I’m sharing pregnancy after loss anxiety with the members of our support group who are trying again.
Because on September 8th she turns nine years old.


They are only guesses. Some might me more accurate than others, but it comes to the same end. I passed the road sign. My Grief Season has come early this year.

What are your signs that grief season has begun? What are your triggers and how do you try to combat them?


Hope's Mama said...

When I turned the calendar over yesterday. And this is my first grief season. Wish me luck.

Hope's Mama said...

Oh, and daffodils.....

Lisa DG said...

For me, it's the heat of summer. I lost Sally Ann in late July so as the summer heats up, so does my anxiety and "erratic" behavior. It's the weeks and days leading up to the day that truly are the hardest- I beat myself with a stick on those days because those are the days that could of, would, should have made a difference in the outcome, no matter what the doctors say. If I had known then what would follow in the days to come, could I have affected the outcome in some positive way?

The grief and pain and loss are profound- the not knowing and what if's are debilitating.

ezra'smommy said...

Cara, I'm no where near where you are on this grief journey, but I appreciate your beautiful posts so much...a roadmap of sorts as time marches on.

Martha said...

Grief has its own season, its own time, its own triggers.

Here is an intuition from a friend, dear Cara-

I am so sorry you are in pain and missing your daughter so much right now and all that you, her family, and Emma herself have been denied. I am abiding with you and thinking of you. Nothing I can say or do can take this pain away, but I want you to know I care. ((Hugs)) Martha

Salma said...

Take care Cara, I have no idea where I will be when my season comes around, but I hope to always find your lovely posts.

Kristin said...

My losses are scattered throughout the year. I can't let myself get dragged into a grief season or I might never get out. I do have moments that it still sneaks up on me and gets me though.

Michelle said...

Mine seems to be an all year event. i have so many dates to remember that sometimes it becomes too much! I stopped fighting it and just let it be. Just sometimes its background noise and others I can't hear anything else but grief. I find it fades much quicker. Exact days are the hardest. Sometimes I try to distract myself and others I hide away and just BE SAD! I haven't really found one exact way that makes it go away because I don't think it ever really does. Thinking of you and sending ((HUGS))!

Eskimo_Kisses_4_U said...

I'm along the same lines as Michelle. I'm still trying to find my footing after losing my twins and soon, there will be the annual birthdays of my other angel babies. I have no answers for you right now as I have no answers for myself. I only have that overwhelming tidal wave of sadness and the voice in the pit of my stomach begging my mouth and body to not act, talk, and just be completely crazy to those that don't know or understand.

I've lost a parent, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, close friends, and I've found that time eases pain, but when it comes to losing a child, time doesn't ease it at all.

Just know my love, thoughts, and prayers are with you and your family. **BIG HUGS**

Once A Mother said...

my grief season has been this whole year, though maybe that changes after her birthday and the anniversary of her passing pass. I used to love the fall, to welcome it with open arms, now the signs of its approach bring me back to desperate news in the hospital, bringing her into this world in September, and holding her as she slipped from it in October. Your post really touched me, most especially this line "Because my commitments will cause me to be ‘less Emma’s mother’ again" one thing I have noticed in your blog and work with share is how beautifully you have committed yourself to helping others. You are always Emma's mother, and your work with share honors your love for her so beautifully. Thinking of you and sending ((hugs)) as grief season rears its painful head.

Dora said...

All those reasons are valid, yet you don't need any reason. Your grief for Emma just is. Here for you, hon.

Kristin said...

I gave you an award.

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Time Is Both My Best Ally and My Worst Enemy: My Meltdown 8 Years Later