This I Believe

You know the NPR radio show "This I Believe"? It's a wonderful opportunity for people to say something that they believe is the truth. My therapist, psychologist Mary Plouffe, is one of those who sent in a piece, about 3 years ago. It's BEAUTIFUL what she wrote... please feel free to go listen to her speak it, or read it if you like, at
http://thisibelieve.org/essay/28381/
I went to see her today. In a word, she is amazing. Always. What a gift. I think I mentioned that she saw me for the time that Andy was sick on a pro bono basis? Just so that I wouldn't hesitate to come in if I needed her. 
Today we talked about how insane and exhausting it is to lose a close loved one, a child worst of all. I cried through the whole thing. She said when you find yourself unable to connect, it isn't surprising... people ask how *I* am doing, but grieving for all that Andy doesn't have, for his own loss, is going to add to grieving for what I have lost. He will never have so much. Even though I know it's not my fault, I understand for the first time the sorry feelings of being a survivor. How can a mother enjoy the little things: the coffee, the soft pillow, the leaves falling... when her child cannot?  No wonder we fall apart over the little things.
And we talked about how maybe I need to structure and plan more personal time. Instead of feeling like a big unreliable mess who can't pull herself together, i.e. a failure for leaving work mid week, I need to PLAN on few afternoons off or something. This has a lot of appeal. Of course it would have even more appeal if I was paid twice as much so I could work half time, haha. But there's no point in pretending I can do what I can't, and based on the fact that I have actually provided about 24 hours of useful work in the past 9 days of office hours, it's time to get real. I need more exercise and more sleep and more time to get centered or just rest and weep... or get into the hot bath with the sprinkles of love that Joanie sent over. Linda (DunneL), what you said makes sense: Strength is not the same as self sacrifice or pretending to be something you're not right now. It's having the strength to do what you need to do for you. Thank you for that.
Byron and Caitlin came over tonight and we had some lovely red wine and watched "In Treatment". Great show. Then "CHOPPED!", the Halloween episode, which had us howling in laughter. Laughter is so good, when it's with people you know understand how it is that you CAN laugh and still be broken hearted. 
 And OH BTW... no I am not going to drive to fricking Vermont next Thursday for a birthday party of someone who 'sort of' apologizes and just tells me to take better care of myself. What on earth was I thinking. : P Still don't think I did anything so heinous. Now for bed. But Linda (KandL), you're right... that's crazy making time anyway... all that car time alone, I'd spiral down.
Now for sleep. 
Love, Sarah 

Replies

Missinglisa
Missinglisa

Thank you for this. Everywhere I go, everything I do, I think \"Lisa would like this\". Then I feel guilty and angry because she isn\'t here to enjoy it. survivor guilt.
I am in Thunder Bay with 2 of my best friends from the time we were children. They are struggling with their own stresses. We sat around the table drinking tea and laughing and crying together.We are the Sob Sisters. It is a blessing to have good friends.
Good for you not gong to Vermont!
Hugs.
Marlene - Lia\'s Mum
JennsMom66
JennsMom66

\"Even though I know it\'s not my fault, I understand for the first time the sorry feelings of being a survivor. How can a mother enjoy the little things: the coffee, the soft pillow, the leaves falling... when her child cannot? No wonder we fall apart over the little things\" ...exactly !!! This is it exactly.. thank you for putting in words what I have been feeling...
MaryLou
Livingjuicy
Livingjuicy

I have been waiting to hear what you might share... the nuggets of healing wrapped softly in your words. What resonates for me so much is the grief over the loss of what our children won\'t experience. A double, triple whatever kind of loss that can take us spiraling down in a nano second. Not the way I felt at all about my precious mom a year or so ago after her life of almost 89 years. I really like her idea of giving yourself time for self nurture and care. Do it! I truly believe it\'s the marathon race of our life and we need all the energy that we can find. In the past I saw myself as a sieve filled with holes where all my life force energy was spewing out all over for everything and everyone. Now, I am slowly learning how to plug those holes and give first to myself and then in situations or to people that bring nurturing to me as well. Loved how you enjoyed your evening and hope your sleep was more restful. A good night\'s rest is such a gift, isn\'t it? Now, carve this ME time out for you and let it be as changeable as the cloud formations in the sky. With love and gratitude to you. Joanie
deleted_user
deleted_user

Being unhappy with everything just because Our Children cant part take is very real in my world as well. Even happy things seem dull and gray. a beautiful day might as well be over cast and a overcast day may as well be the storm of the century. I am glad we can have this place to help each other thru
KandL
KandL

Hi Sarah, You are right - you did nothing wrong. I think you made a good decision to stay away from that event.
I so appreciate you sharing your insights and labeling exactly what I\'ve been feeling and hadn\'t been able to put my finger on. That is the survivor guilt. It is so hard to enjoy anything while realizing Eddie can\'t enjoy it as well any longer. Even coffee! Any comfort. It makes sense. But you are right. It is not our fault yet it is hard to reconcile those feelings.
I think you are on the right track as far as structuring your time. I think it may even help you feel a bit more in control and not as much carried away by the waves of grief. I received the call about Eddie on a Friday at 2pm while at work. When I returned to work after a 3 week absence I found myself each Friday having to leave work leave work early as the anxiety began to build. I then decided to as long as I needed to I would leave work at noon on Fridays before the anxiety, fear and tears started. It did help and eventually I said I am ready to make a whole day on Fridays.
Thank you for helping me by sharing what you are learning. I wish you peace and healing. Love to you and your beloved Andy, LInda
deleted_user
deleted_user

Your words truely hit home...the sorry feelings of being a survivor...even trying to enjoy the little things is only going through the motions of it...the entire time I am reminded of the part of me that is missing, the painful reality that no matter how hard I try, the thing that made the little things so enjoyable, those memories so cherished and complete, is missing. I have no other choice but to continue to travel on the journey, even though it is so frustrating and I am so tired...I hate having no other choice. The one thing I have learned is that I must remain calm and do only what I am able...when I can....being angry and wanting to fight the world is not going to bring my child back...I know this...sending peace to you today, and a thank you for sharing. Your journals open up so much for me in this journey.
DunneL
DunneL

Dear Sarah, you touched a deep place in many of us with your words about survival guilt. Yes. We all shared those wonderful experiences with our children. Hell, we were the ones who first introduced them to so many beautiful things--the stars, a bird, the forest, cavier. Most of the things I most love to do, I first did with my son. He was the person I went hiking and kayaking with. The person I shared so much beauty with. So, yes, it\'s so hard to enjoy those things alone, knowing that he can\'t. The hardest thing about losing a child is having to go on and live. I\'m also glad you decided to \"pass\" on Vermont. Thanks for all your words. I\'m going to read Mary\'s essay now. Love, Linda
Abotsd
Abotsd

We watch \"in treatment\" too and love it. Great TV. Modern Family has us laughing. It\'s good to enjoy the riches we do have, our children who are suffering the loss along with us. The book I\'m reading: The Courage To Grieve by Judy Tatelbaum, is written by a sibling and is so comforting to me.
zzztop
zzztop

HAPPY YOU ARE NOT DRIVING THAT FAR FOR (NOTHING) AND ALL ALONE. REST GRIEFING TAKES ALOT OUT OF YOU. HUGS ZZ
deleted_user
deleted_user

You sound good and you sound like you know what you want to do and are going to do it! Good for you! Like ZZZ says, grieving takes a lot out of you and she is so right. So for now, think of yourself first and take care of yourself. The rest will be easier if you do. Truly your friend, Barbarawawa
inmemoryofhattie
inmemoryofhattie

Big hug!
BinkyH
BinkyH

It is so strange, all of it. Such a learning experience, in such a short amount of time. For a year, I could not smile. Then I could manage a smile. Then we have to go through the guilt/disloyalty or whatever else it is to even do that. Every smile is followed by the thought of our child. How can I smile? I can now laugh. It will be two years this month, but I can laugh now. There comes a time of realization that it is okay to smile or laugh without guilt because we know what is in our hearts. We own our grief. Hugs, Belinda
deleted_user
deleted_user

I am so amazed and admiring of you that you can work. I couldn\'t and don\'t.
I retired and just the thought of having to work is exhausting. So Kuddos to you!! Don\'t put yourself down, you are doing what you can do and that is awesome. Love to you friend.
Pam
PLA58
PLA58

When you talk about enjoying things that our children should be enjoying with us, it brought back memories . I have always been a coffee drinker so my son in his wisdom at 18, tried cuben coffee a spoon could stand up in it. He was hooked every morning on his way to work stopped for a coffee. I think there is more caffine in that small cup than coffee :)
So I sit here with my coffee that I now enjoy remembering through the tears and smiles his introduction to coffee.

Work is better than it was after Mike died, I still want to close myself up in my office. I go out and play with the new babies (I work for an ob gyn) new life has a way of embracing you and giveing you hope. I have a lady that every time she comes in she give me a hug and asks how I am doing. I have seen her through 2 other pregnancies and have been adopted. This makes my day, she asks for my advice on many things so she is helping me feel more useful and she doesn\'t know how much healing this does.

Go have a cup of coffee on me
Hugs Penny