A woman once picked up a copy of my grief book, looked at the cover, and sniffed: “Why did she write that? She should have just picked herself up and carried on. It’s no good feeling sorry for yourself.”

A friend passed on this story. I wasn’t at all upset by the woman’s words. In a way she was right. Self-pity doesn’t get you anywhere. But while I smiled, I felt sad for the woman.  I doubt that she understands grief. One day she will. For who can go through life without experiencing loss? Will she just pick herself up and carry on?

Self-pity? I wrote my book and I continue to write about Thomas. Is that because I feel a continual need to tell people about my loss? Do I feel sorry for myself? No.

I wrote my book as a way of expressing thanks to God for carrying me through the sorrow. I also wanted to reach out to others who might be in a similar situation. People need to talk about grief. The more people that talk, the more others understand, and the more compassionate we all become. That’s not self-pity. It’s sharing. And yes, I am still sharing my son after all these years.

In two days’ time it is Thomas’ birthday. It’s been 13 years since he was born and 13 years since he died. That’s a long time. I don’t need people to stop and offer their sympathy. I have no reason to feel sorry for myself.  I was blessed.  I have Thomas still. God gave me the strength to survive. I am thankful. And I wouldn’t go back and change anything. No, I am not looking for sympathy. I think of Thomas and I smile. At least I do for 51 weeks of the year.

Why is that other week of the year so different? I think about Thomas’ birthday and my throat seizes up as I try to gulp down the sorrow, my eyes prick with tears I don’t want to shed, and I can feel my heart. It aches. Why is this week so different to last week? Why is it so different to next week?

If I never looked at the calendar, would my body still know that November 9th is approaching?

All those emotions that are usually hidden away safely in that secret place within me, seem to be automatically released at this time of year.  And I have no control over the way I feel.

Thomas will be 13 on Friday, but all grown up in Heaven. And for some reason just because it is this week of the year, I am sad.

I sit here and I wonder…

Why do anniversaries affect us some much? Why do the intervening years suddenly disappear, dropping us back in time, drowning us in sorrow… why do memories return so clearly?

And now I’m thinking: Why did I write this post? Will everyone think I am feeling sorry for myself? Will they think I am looking for sympathy? Would that woman say:  It’s about time you picked yourself up and left your sorrow in the past. It’s time to move on and stop talking about your son.

But I write and I share.

A few days will pass. All those sorrowful emotions will seem to disappear, and life will be back to normal. No reason to drown in self-pity.

But today? Today I feel sad. It's that one week of the year.

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  1. Hugs to you, Sue, and remembering Thomas with you...

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    1. Ellen,

      Thank you. I do appreciate you stopping to give me those hugs.

      God bless!

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  2. Feelings are feelings. We have no control over them. They just are. So we need o acknowledge them. We can never heal if we just push them away.
    And sharing your story has undoubtedly helped others who also grieve.
    I pray for you. I pray for all who grieve. And I pray for all who are insensitive to others pain.
    God bless you. Hugs.

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    1. Colleen,

      You are so right. We can't just push feelings and act like they don't exist. It can seem easier to do this and just get on with life, but a life without feelings is so bleak. No sorrowful feelings but no good feelings either. Just nothing. In the long run that doesn't help at all.

      I guess by sharing we give others the permission to grieve too. It's normal and acceptable and there are others out there who understand.

      I really feel sorry for those who are insensitive to the pain of others. One day they will realise their mistake. Yes, they need prayers. That is why I felt sad for the woman despite her thoughtless words about me. I think one of the gifts of suffering is compassion. I know you understand that.

      Thank you for the hugs! And your comment.

      God bless!

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  3. Ah Sue - if we did not feel grief and sorrow, we would not have it to offer up for our dear Lord...

    Hugs and prayers for all of you this week....

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    1. Beate,

      The pain and suffering return and we have another opportunity to offer them to our Lord. Beate, that is so helpful. I think about Lent, and especially Holy Week. Yes, we are immersed in the sorrow of our Lord's Passion each year. I am having similar feelings at the moment. Like the liturgical year, I go through the cycle of Thomas' birth and death and then the ordinary part of the year. It's just the way it is.

      Thank you for your comment! I said I didn't need sympathy but hugs are always wonderful. Thank you for yours.

      God bless!

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  4. First of all, Sue, you are AMAZING! I do not know how you do it all, keeping up with your blog and writing a novel all at once. I keep seeing your word count go up, up, up and I'm trying to keep up with you, but I keep trailing behind.....

    Second of all, I have so much to say about this post. I have not felt grief anywhere near what you have been through. I have not lost anyone close to me except my grandfathers who each lived to a ripe old age.

    And yet your grief posts give me hope. I have, at times, tried to avoid reading about loss because I was afraid of allowing myself to be exposed to such pain and sorrow. If I got too close would something bad happen to me or my loved ones too?

    Then one day I read a post you wrote about driving home from Thomas' grave site and being so overwhelmed with your grief. You wrote something about realizing there was nothing you could do to change the situation and so you just gave it all to God. On my worst days, when I am upset about one little thing or another (and making it a much bigger thing in my mind) I think about that. It helps to bring me peace.

    Sometimes we can't change the bad things we must face, but that is when we have no other option but to rest in God's love and trust in His comfort.

    It was a beautiful lesson. Thank you for being willing to share your pain- and the healing you have experienced. I will remember Thomas, and all of you, in my prayers on the ninth as you think back to that day you held him 13 years ago.

    God Bless, Kari

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    1. Kari,

      Maybe I am not quite as amazing as you think! Yes my word count is going up and up and I am really happy about that. But I have emails and book reviews and other things I am getting behind on. I hope everyone understands I will catch up as soon as I can. The blogging? It didn't take me long to write this post in an odd moment yesterday. It was just what was on my mind, and I didn't spend much time perfecting the wording. I just wanted to write something as Thomas' birthday approaches.

      Kari, I am always grateful when people who haven't suffered a similar loss to me, still read my posts and stop to comment. Sometimes the posts are not easy reading but friends like you are willing to share. That's what real friends do: share the pain of others they care about.

      I've been thinking about those times when we get so overwhelmed and feel so helpless, we have to give everything to God. We know we can't do anything by ourselves. Actually, I have a post almost finished on this topic that I am writing for the Hannah's Tears blog. I do know that if anything difficult happens in the future, God will help me. I only have to look back to how He brought me through Thomas' death to be sure of that. So yes, that does bring peace. Though I have to admit I still do get moments when I panic and forget!

      Kari, I appreciate your kind and encouraging words. I do sometimes wonder whether it is time to close the book and not write any more about Thomas. No doubt, I still have more to say!

      I haven't signed into my NaNo account today yet. I am sure I will find you have leaped ahead with your word count! You are inspiring me to keep writing. This year I am determined to finish and edit my book quickly, and not leave it hidden on my computer. It is good to have some friendly competition to keep each other moving along. Maybe competition is the wrong word. Support, encouragement, example, inspiration... it's good to share our writings!

      Thank you for your prayers, Kari. I also keep you in mine.

      God bless you and your family.

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  5. Sue, I'm glad you're reaching out to others to share your story. I've been pondering lately if I should reach out to women on my blog who are struggling with early miscarriage. Like yourself, it wouldn't be about me feeling sorry for myself. It would be about me sharing a chapter in mine and God's love story and reaching out to women who feel alone in their struggles. Keep talking about Thomas...God inspires you to do so for a reason. And God in His Infinite Mercy allows you to remember that brief skin-to-skin moment with your little one to keep you focused on Him. May God Bless you abundantly this week.

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    1. Elizabeth,

      "It would be about me sharing a chapter in mine and God's love story and reaching out to women who feel alone in their struggles." Those words just leapt off the screen towards me. That is such a beautiful way of describing the reason you would blog about miscarriage.

      Maybe God is inspiring you to write just like He inspires me. I used to wonder what good could come out of losing Thomas. Over the years I have found much to be thankful for and truly believe God's plan is the right one. One of the good things has been connecting with other grief stricken parents. It is a real privilege to share people's sorrow and to be bound together by our circumstances. I am sure God is using Thomas to do good in the world.

      I always planned to write about miscarriage and occasionally I do touch on this sorrow. However, I seem to focus more on neonatal death. Please share that chapter of your life. Your stories are needed. I am sure you will help other mothers. When I suffered my first miscarriages I felt so alone and would have appreciated hearing other mothers' stories. The sorrow from miscarriage is especially difficult as it is often an invisible sorrow. People are more likely to be insensitive to a mother that has miscarried early than to a mother who has given birth and buried her baby.

      I was reading a blog post the other day where the mother encouraged everyone to speak out about their losses. If we don't tell people our stories, our babies will never be recognised for who they are: persons with dignity.

      "And God in His Infinite Mercy allows you to remember that brief skin-to-skin moment with your little one to keep you focused on Him." That is so true. And I also think that although the memories are painful, they are strong and clear and still with me. I used to be afraid of forgetting. All I am left with is memories, and I'd rather have them as they are, full of pain, than not have them at all.

      Thank you for taking the time to write this beautiful comment.

      May God bless you too!

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  6. Praying for you and your husband and children. I agree that feelings are to be shared.

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    1. Uglemor,

      Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate your prayers and words.

      May God bless you and your family.

      Delete
  7. I think it is good to write and to be sad and to remember. The great thing about us Catholics, is that we will be in heaven one day. When I miss someone who has passed away...I think about how much God longs to be with us. And one day we will all be reunited.

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    1. Elisa,

      Yes, our Faith gives us so much hope. I often think about being reunited with Thomas. Won't that be a joyful day when we are reunited with our departed loved ones?

      Thank you for your comment, Elisa.

      May God bless you!

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  8. I am welling with tears reading this. And remembering all the tears I shed as I read your Thomas book. His books and yours. I think about the conversations you and I have had. Though I've never lost a child, you know I grieve the children I wanted and did not get to have.

    Time... it's a weird thing. This Sunday makes seven years since my 36 year old friend, whom I loved like a sister, died in her sleep napping on her mother's couch. In ten days is the five year anniversary of my Grandpops death.

    I don't have to look at the calendar for either of these. A few days before the anniversary of Stephanie's death, I feel a horrible depression coming over me, and the crying jags start. I wonder why, and I look at the date and think, "Oh, THAT'S why". My heart knows the date, even when my brain doesn't. So, I understand what you mean... your body and heart and mind have Thomas forever etched into them. You're always going to remember him, and always going to love him. And so you should, as only a mother can. ♥

    What is it about anniversaries that are so painful, and our internal calendars manage to have their nagging alarms set to remind us of the person we love so deeply, even though they are in Jesus's arms.. but that pain hits us all over again. I don't know why that is. Maybe it's a blessing in a way.. it makes us remember how very much and how deeply we love them. ♥

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    1. Susan,

      I am so glad you stopped and commented on this post. We share this time of year, both of us having memories of the loved ones we've lost. It is very difficult reliving the sorrow each year. Grief is hard but it is easier knowing I have understanding friends, friends like you who know what grief is all about. We can grieve together and not alone.

      I think the grief of anniversaries is unavoidable. I thought it would have disappeared after so many years, but it hasn't. You said, "Maybe it's a blessing in a way.. it makes us remember how very much and how deeply we love them. ♥" Yes, we wouldn't want to forget. Our loved ones are worth all the pain. In some ways I am afraid of the pain disappearing. If Thomas' birthday no longer hurts would that mean I don't care about him so much?

      I know this time of the year is so very difficult for you, Susan. I am thinking about you and praying as you relive your sorrows.

      God bless.

      Delete

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