Friday, April 07, 2006

I had really feared I was broken forever.

I had really feared I was broken forever. Each child that died, and each of the miscarriages, took something out of me. Each death broke a coping mechanism, which is normal, and the succession of deaths did not give them time to heal or be restored. After three funerals, and three miscarriages (and yes, my poor wife went through pregnancy eight times and has only two children to show for it) I had mostly shattered shards of myself.

We had reached a sort of peace, the two of us and our one surviving child, who so much did not want to be left alone, when my wife decided to put off graduate school for a year. That brought Rachel into our lives. Beautiful, bright, happy, resourceful (right now she is trying to figure out how to read in bed when she is supposed to be sleeping, but she has gotten into fourth grade books and loves them), she has forced us all to deal with things that were buried and hidden.

But amazingly, in many ways she has given us our lives back as well. We thought we were living, but in so many ways, because of her we are no longer broken. Things in my life that had failed me are suddenly working again (such as being able to go for long walks).

Replacement children are a disaster in grief. The literature and the community are filled with examples. But subsequent children, taken on their own, are so precious. We had anticipated that so much with Robin, and then she died. I did not think I could ever face a baby again. I'm so glad we did. It is so good to not be permanently broken after all.

BTW, for those of you who have noticed that MA is displaying my name, but no links to posts or post titles, they are aware of the problem and are looking into it. I'm sure they will figure it out, just some technical glitch that is affecting only my blog, but shouldn't last. It appears to be a problem from a Blogger setting with a changed default, I'm hoping it is cured.


annegb said...

I had intended to have only two children, but when Davey died and I got religion, I changed my mind.

Sarah was the biggest blessing I've ever received from God. She brought joy into my life and kept me alive when James died.

I live in constant fear that something will happen to her. She knows that and she will read my mind at times and say strongly, "Mom, I'm not going to die on you. God has revealed this to me." I hope so.

Stephen, grandchildren are such a bonus, just wait and see.

Stephen said...

I sure hope so, I surely hope so.

Anonymous said...

As I have said, I do not have children. What you have experienced is among what I would consider to be one of my worst nightmares. I have lived my life in fear of something awful like that happening for the last 12 years with ocd. I have thought before how all my worry and fret have been so in vain as I have nothing to show for my worries for the most part. Mothers and father worry for their children and watch them grow. They teach them and love them and are blessed. When you are faithful, you can live again with those you lost. I know it is still an unimagionable pain to me to loose a child. And even when I was in such a state of despair, that I thought I had suffered more than anybody on the face of the Earth due to my mental illness and all that went through my mind, I only have to read what you say and know that I have been spared so much. God has helped me to cope and although I avoid going places for the most part, I still enjoy life. I was broken and have found some peace of mind. Your faith of going on and while still mourning for your children especially at times of anniversaries, is an example to me. You are able to enjoy your family and able to love them and be loved by them.

Stephen said...

Have a work through on the aggregator issues.

The problem seems to have been somehow releated to the way that blogger generates titles.

I'm not sure of the details, since everything was fine, then suddenly, MA didn't have any link and LDSelect started displaying {no title}. So I now have titles on posts, instead of the automatically generated ones.

annegb said...

Stephen, something happened today in Relief Society. Maybe you'll have this lesson next week, or maybe you guys had it today. It's about death and resurrection.

A young mother of 4 taught the lesson, I think there were two of us in the room who'd lost children.

There's that story about Sarah Emma Woodruff. The sisters started talking about how much of a comfort the gospel is when people die.

A girl I know, who is 28, with two kids, made the comment that she'd attended the funeral of a little girl in our community last month, she died of heart problems, previously undiagnosed, four years old. This innocent young woman made the comment how wonderful the gospel it was and how it didn't hurt as bad if you knew you'd have your child again.

I love her, but I thought "how the hell would you know?"

I finally raised my hand and said even the general authorities mourn terribly when they lose their children, that even knowing what we know doesn't take away that extreme pain of losing a child.

The teacher agreed, then said, "but..."

What worried me, and I've never felt this way before, usually I just think "you're all idiots," but this time I looked around and thought, "boy there are a lot of young mothers in here, lots of kids. Sooner rather than later, statistically, one of them will lose a child."

And I wondered if they would misinterpret that exquisite anguish as a loss of faith. I tried to warn them, that's what I was saying. I wondered if they would think the gospel isn't true because they were told in Relief Society it's not as painful.

Because it is every bit as painful.

Stephen said...

It mentions that in the Doctrine and Covenants, the pain is part of having love.

People just want to feel they are immune.

Anonymous said...

Annegb, I agree that there needs to be much more awareness about grief among members of the Church. Everybody grieves differently. Also, a lot of people talk about people really holding it together after a tragic loss when that person may still be in a state of shock. I am glad that the recent Ensign that I received for March spoke of how it is important to cry when grieving.

I wanted to add that when I said that I thought that I had suffered more than anybody on this Earth that I was obviously rather delusional at the time. My suffering has not even touched the surface of what so many have suffered in this life. I certainly have never experienced the anguish equal to the loss of a child or somebody very close.

Rosalie Erekson Stone said...

Stephen, I hope you realize how much those of us who have not lost children also have benefited from your posts on how you and your dear wife have dealt with seemingly impossible burdens.

Annegb, I see your point about not fully understanding loss until you experience it personally. And I agree that that even general authorities feel terrible pain at the loss of a loved one. President Hinckley's remarks after his wife's death made that abundantly clear. I guess I see lessons such as the one you mentioned as enabling those who believe in the ressurection to be spared the additional pain which assaults those who believe that at the time of death their loved ones totally cease to exist.

annegb said...

Yes, Roann, you are totally right. I cannot imagine believing that. I believe that many people who think they don't believe in an after-life begin to believe because to do otherwise is impossibly painful.

But, you know, even knowing what I knew, it does sort of seem like they cease to exist. There is a terrible emptiness where they once were.

I don't know how to explain it, I remember feeling it fully the as I sat up all night when my husband and son died. I was thinking more of my husband, there was such an empty feeling where he had been. It hurt so bad I could never quantify it.

I wasn't trying to make anybody scared, I was trying to tell them that if they feel that emptiness, that awful anguish, that doesn't mean they still don't exist and that the gospel isn't true. I just had like a psychic moment, looking around and thinking, "somebody here is so screwed."

Stephen said...

have dealt with seemingly impossible burdens.

Sometimes I just don't believe it happened, I don't believe I could have coped with it, regardless of what really happened (as a friend once said "just because you've done it doesn't mean it is possible").