Saturday, October 6, 2007

Five steps to grief

I think I'm stuck between 3 and 4. Step 3 and step 4.

Step 1: Denial, numbness, shock

Step 2: Bargaining

Step 3: Depression

Step 4: Anger

Step 5: Acceptance

Those are the most common reactions to grief, and all in all the steps in the process to accepting the loss you've been faced with. I linger between depression and anger on most days, mostly in and out of depression. I'm over the anger -- mostly. There wasn't much to the denial part of it. There's no denying what's happening when you see it all being flushed down the toilet. Even when the doctor wanted to wait a few days to see what was happening, I was sure. I knew the moment I saw the spot in my panties. I knew I was losing the baby. It was hard to swallow at least, and at my worst I'd curl up in a ball on the floor and scream. I remember slipping in and out of numbness and pain...always in shock. The physical pain was easy to deal with. It gave me something to focus on other than the emotion of the situation...and my son, Adrien, gave me something to hold onto rather than the intangible bits of tissue I was being forced to flush away.

Bargaining isn't something that comes easy, but it's most of what occupies your mind while you're lying in bed at night and your brain refuses to rest. You replay the scenario countless times in your head. You wonder what you did to cause it: you're sure that you in some way caused it to happen. And even when your OB swears that miscarriage is such a common occurrence that it will happen to nearly every woman during her child-bearing years, it's hard not to feel like you're the only one. When you find out about others, and how many others there are, it seems like some cruel joke...or even worse yet, like a downplaying of your grief. I know, personally, that when someone would hear of my situation and they felt the need to relate an anecdote (be it their own loss or someone they've known), it only played further into the thought that it was inevitable and it would, inevitably, happen again. It seemed like around every corner there were more and more women who hadn't just suffered this experience once, but multiple times. At other times, it felt like my sadness was being passed off as a common occurrence, and therefore minute. I know that isn't the case, but one becomes very self-involved at these times...and that's alright, too. I remember all too clearly the blaming of myself. After all, who else's fault could it be? It had to be someone's.

And then, there's depression. I'm no stranger to it, having been diagnosed with clinical depression early in my life. There's nothing about this sort of grieving that can be fixed with any medication. Medications are for chemical imbalances and other neurological misgivings -- not miscarriages. My in-laws took Adrien for a few days so I could have time to myself. I felt selfish sending him off that way, but I was incapable of taking care of another human being. I could barely take care of myself. Those two and half days are such a blur: I spent them on my anxiety medication, in and out of bed...most constantly in my pajamas. I tried hard not to sit still for too long. I attended a play date without Adrien that was being held at a friend's house. It was good to sit and talk. I remember the coffee being exquisite. I went to Burger King with a friend afterward. It was good to keep going. Too long alone and I'd start to think too much. I push myself so hard and so fast those few days that I think I ran myself into the ground. If I kept going, nothing would have time to catch up with me...and it only recently has.

Anger was a constant for a while more ways than one. I was angry that it had happened. I was angry that I couldn't find out why. Sometimes you don't get any closure, and I'm not sure if that makes it a harder pill to swallow...but it sure as hell feels like it. The weight of uncertainty and guilt push down on me every day. Back to the bargaining again -- the constant guilt that maybe I did something wrong. Or maybe just the fact that it was my bad genome that caused the death to occur. I was angry that my sister in law could so easily become pregnant so soon after my loss -- in her first month of trying. I think "jealous" may be more suited than "anger". I was angry that she was plastering her pregnant status all over MySpace for the world to see. I was angry that she would have the new baby and I wouldn't. Why did she get joy when I was getting pain? Short lived was my anger, and it soon turned to shame. Although I feel my anger was founded and her actions were brash, she too soon learned what loss was all about. There's a horrible part of me that things her blighted ovum was a blessing to our family: we won't have to endure as she and her husband rejoice in new life. We'll all grieve together, respectively. Maybe she has a new perspective on how it felt for me to read her constant I'm Pregnant! updates via bulletin on a networking site. Maybe now she'll understand why I asked her to change her screen name when it read (nothing less than) Pray for a healthy baby. She refused to change her screen name and insisted I should pray for her: she was praying for me. It was easy to channel my anger at her. So easy to throw things and want to hurt myself when I found out she was pregnant. It was harder, however, to deal with the anger I felt for myself...and for my husband who's feelings I couldn't understand. I could hardly see outside the scope of myself, how was I supposed to understand anyone else's feelings? Anger was the easiest step. Being angry is easier than hurting.

Finally, acceptance. I'm not sure if I'll ever get to that point. I'm sure it will become easier to deal with, but I'm not sure I'll ever accept anything that happened. How can you accept something when you're not even sure why it happened. I wish I could say I had some sort of worldly perspective on how to achieve this heightened state. Somehow, I just think it's like Nirvana: something to strive for, but impossible to reach when you're not at peace. I don't think I'll ever accept; merely learn to live with.

So here I sit, perched between depression and anger. I'm only just now letting it catch up with me -- sitting still long enough to allow the pain to seep in. Lying in bed with my husband earlier, I started to cry. I want my baby back, I sobbed. He asked if I as ready to try for another. I'm not. I'm terrified it will happen again. Besides, I'm not through grieving yet. I think I've just begun. I keep running away from it, and it's finally catching up. I've resorted to buying things to try to block it all out. Maybe If I buy enough possessions, I could build a wall to keep it out. Maybe If I find enough things to keep myself occupied, I'll be able to outsmart it. I doubt it though. I think it's catching up with me very quickly...and I'm afraid.


Sane Elaine said...

My heart is breaking for you. Please don't feel afraid because you are not alone. I'm here for you and so are the many friends who love you.

Please lean on us if you need to - THAT'S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR.

Love you girl and remember we're just a phone call (or IM away).

Candace said...

I just want to thank you so much for writing that post. You put words to something that is impossible to express. I am sending the link to someone who is going through this right now.
you are a great writer.

Mimi aka pz5wjj said...

I'm so sorry. I lost 2 between my boys. It hurts.

I still grieve for them!