Sunday, March 25, 2012

Taking on the elephant in the room.

Well . . . hello.

I guess I need to break the ice again . . . but I'm not sure how.

I hate to say it, but for the first time, I think this blog has become a bit awkward for me. It's kind of feels like the social equivalent of getting drunk, totally humiliating yourself, and then having to go face the crowd when you're sober and embarrassed.

(Not that I have been drunk before. Well, OK, I got drunk when I was 3 years old. But that's another story . . .)

There feels like a big elephant in the room. And I wanted to ignore it -- but I think I'm just going to have to address it head on. I shared on my last note much more personally than I ever have before, and that is embarrassing and scary.

But I can't decide if sharing so intimately with what I am struggling with is a good thing or a bad thing. It's not really socially normal, I do know that. But does that make it wrong?

That's where I'm fuzzy.

My husband encouraged me to keep the note up because it is a truthful account of what I'm dealing with. It's totally ugly, but it's true. I felt like my counselor recommended I get more honest on this blog as a way to get out of that need to control my image. To really be upfront, and grieve.

My sister, on the other hand, recommended I take it down. I don't need to socially martyr myself, and I don't need to be 100% transparent. Some things are personal, and they don't need to be public for anybody and everybody to see. When I received LOTS of concerned phone calls the day after my post -- well, I think I started to agree with my sister.

I'm struggling because I can't decide if it's good or bad that I'm uncomfortable. It could be GOOD because I'm being proactive in breaking that pretty box . . . but it's BAD if I crossed a line, or have inadvertantly pushed people away.

While there's much I'm debating, I did decide to edit my post ever so slightly to temper it down.

I've also decided that I'm definitely going through a depression. Which also brings up more questions . . . If I am blogging about pregnancy loss, but I'm also depressed, doesn't that mean that less women will be able to relate? Will this blog be now about depression after loss -- or can it still serve those who are going through a loss without having succumbed to depression?

I wish I knew the answers . . . .

Even as I question my content, my voice, and my level of transparency, I still stand strong in my purpose.

I am writing through my grief because in hard times, sometimes the only thing that helps is someone who has been there, done that, and is brave enough to share their story. I want to be brave with my story.

I am writing because it gives me an outlet for my feelings and grief.

I blog because I need Olivia's life to have meaning.

I share because, the first day after my loss, I had an intense need to share Olivia's "birth" story -- just like other women do who have gone through labor and had healthy babies. I assume other women have this need, and I want to provide a safe place to share our stories.

I write because I was once the girl that said all the wrong things and was a very unhelpful support person to my friends and acquaintances dealing with pregnancy loss. I want to help break the silence, help others understand what it's like to lose a baby (no matter the gestation), and give them the words and tools they need to truly support their loved one in the best way possible.

I write because I do believe that God has gifted me with a love for the written word, and I want to use that to His glory.

I continue to write because more than 4,000 people have viewed this blog in 3 months . . .  and that tells me that somehow, in some way, my writing is helping others . . . even though I can't always see it or know the outcome.

I pour out my heart on this thing because I need my friends and family to know what I'm going through -- but I have a hard time communicating that in person.

I long to know that I'm not alone in my feelings. I long to feel connected, because I so often feel lost in myself and unconnected when I am physically around others. I long to feel hope.

If you have viewed this blog, I'm going to ask a favor. Will you please let me know if and what you have found helpful in my writing? As I wrestle with where to take this blog, your suggestions and feedback will really help me.

As much as this started out being about Olivia -- it's now really about you, my readers. And helping you, while helping me, is Olivia's legacy.


  1. Rach, Your blog has been very helpful. I have to passed your blog along to a few people that have similar struggles as you and I have. Thank you for honest. Keep it up.

  2. This blog has shown me how I need to be very careful with my friends when they have experienced traumatic trials; whether it is the loss of a loved one or something else. We can think we're being helpful when really we are not, and this blog has been a good reminder for that. This blog has also been used to place you (and others who have had similar experiences) on the hearts of many who have wondered, "How do I pray for __________?" I am sure that many of the 4000 readers you've had over the past few months were Christians, and how wonderful it would be if they all knelt in prayer for you, even for a moment. I'm sure many of them did. I know I did. So that is another benefit of this blog.

    It sounds like writing down your thoughts and emotions, etc. has been helpful for you; sometimes we don't recognize things about ourselves until we say them out loud, or write them down, in your case. But it sounds like your sister gave some wise advise as well. You may want to use some cautionary measures to protect your own and your family's privacy, for now and in the future. For instance, have you thought about what the repercussions of this blog may have on your little girl? On your husband? Not just now, but in the future? Perhaps your husband will be wrongly judged by many for doing too much or not enough for you. Perhaps your little girl will be pegged as being in an emotionally distraught home; she may be given a label that is hard to rip off. Even if these accusations are not true, it is how people think. People read and they make judgements, whether they'd like to, or not. So that might be something to keep in mind.

    So can you do both (write and be a blessing to others/be wise)? One option might be to continue writing. Write, write, write, write. But don't publish. Yet. Then, after God has brought you safely through the swells of this storm then you can look back on your writing and compile them into something beautiful and publishable. Something tactful and powerful. But something sacred to you and safe for you and your family as well. And you will also have the opportunity to edit or add info however necessary in order to hope to best accomplish your primary goals: to glorify God and to serve His children.

    One last thought: I am reminded of the Proverbs that warn believers not to speak too quickly. The wise man considers his words and is careful with them. One drawback to having a blog like this is that it increases your potential to sin by speaking too quickly, while you are caught up in emotions and battling the arrows of the Enemy. If you write in this manner then it makes you vulnerable to sin against God, publicly, by complaining against Him, or to maybe bring hurt to others (without your intention, of course). But to document your trials and experiences may be something you should keep doing. So the best way to handle it may be to compile your writings later, to pick and choose what to share and how to share to share it, and then go forward in the assurance that every thought, word, and letter were covered in sweet, humble prayers to your Holy Father. Just some thoughts. :)

    1. Your comment has given me much to think about. While I don't agree with many of your points, I do appreciate the criticism and the challenge to think further on the issue. I will write more after I have had more of a chance to mull my thoughts over, but for now, thanks for taking the other side, challenging me to think about it, and for being honest with your viewpoint. Because I can defninitly relate to honesty.

      I do wish I knew who you were so we could have a conversation -- but I know you posted anonymously, so I'll just have to respond to your words only, because I can only guess at the heart and experiences that inform your thoughts.

  3. Oh I'm sorry...Oilbhe (yep, it's Irish).
    I didn't have an account so that's partly why a name didn't pop up. I'm afraid I don't have a good email account to really chat with, and I'm a bit i don't have facebook either (i know, i know, how do i survive?). But i do get online from time to time, which is where i stumbled upon your blog. I have relatives who have suffered through loss like you, and i am the kind of person who can feel deeply about things (even if they are not my own experiences), so i almost immediately felt such a burden for you when i came across some of your writing. And since that time i've checked in once in a while to see how you were doing, for lack of a better expression. I've prayed for you. And i am glad to have learned more about some of the struggles that one has to work through when they experience loss, so that i can (hopefully) be a better friend and relative to those i care about. My previous comment was not intended to necessarily encourage you to stop blogging. It was just a suggestion in case you felt like you may be susceptible to any of the down-side things i mentioned. Things which I have witnessed others go through, unfortunately. So i mentioned it to hopefully spare you from some of the consequences they have had to face and/or may face due to the way they responded to their trials. But it was certainly not intended to be a very strong opinion. Just some thoughts from a reader who cares :) And by the way, I agree with you: I believe you are gifted in writing. So whatever you are led to do (whether it is to publish now, later, or never), may it be to the glory of God as you use the strengths He has given you.

    1. Thanks so much for responding, Oilbhe! I've been defintely been mulling over your words all day . . . just in the "what do I think about this" kind of way.

      And I believe that your response, out of all of them, has actually encouraged me MOST to keep blogging.

      I actually do hope to write a book. And the thought had crossed my mind that most people who go through something like this do write AFTER they are "better."

      But when I was going through the initial crazy grief, and now later, as I'm slowly working through the reprecussions, I have often wondered "Is this normal?" The books that are written after one has gotten better do say, "My loss was devastating . . ." But what did that look like? Sometimes when we share far out from our experience, it is so neat and tidy. And grief is not neat and tidy.

      I just want to help other people who might also be going through that disconnect.

      You used the word "safe" a lot in your initial response. I guess I have 2 reactions to that:

      1) I want this to be a safe place for people grieving, or for people who are going through life circumstances who are questioning God, and questioning everything. As much as the body of Christ is supposed to be a safe place, many times it doesn't feel safe at all. I hope that my being open provides a safe place for others to acknowledge hurt, fears and questions that they otherwise don't feel validated in.

      2) I don't feel that my grief is dangerous to me or to my family. Hard? Yep. Inconvenient. Check that one off. Dangerous? I don't think so.

      My hubby is 100% behind my blog, and if he ever wanted me to change something, I totally would. And I try to not put much on here that would lead to someone judging him. I do talk about my marriage changing a bit -- because that is a very real aspect to grief.

    2. I do want you to know, too, that I often think of my posts for days before I post (unless I have a feeling or experience I just can't shake and I have to write it out, RIGHT NOW). I still have other posts I haven't written yet that I'm still thinking on. A lot of thought and prayer (when I can pray) does go into my blog. And I don't take my writing lightly, that's for sure. That's why I haven't written a lot about Jesus yet or faith. That is ground I want to tread lightly on, so that I can accurately reflect the truth, and not just my feelings.

      One last thing -- I don't feel that my blog opens me up to sin more. I agree with the proverb. But the truth is, I really need to get what I have in me, out. And some of that is questioning God, and His purpose. Sometimes that is anger at His plan.

      My hubby and I were discussing the other day whether it was wrong to be angry with God, or struggle in our relationship with Him. We turned to Job, and couldn't find anywhere where God said that he had sinned by being upset.

      I guess I think of this blog a little bit like Job. The 40 chapters of talking with friends, taking what you know of GOd and wrestling with what you FEEL about God . . . the not knowing if and when the right answers will ever come.

      Not that my blog is "biblical." Just that I think God made a point that the wrestling . . . the journey through grief . . . is equally valid and important as the destination.

      And for me, part of that journey is to be honest about everything -- including my anger toward God, and my doubts about His will. Whether I post those or not, I still feel them. If they are sin, at least it's out in the open where GOd can deal with it.

      Now that I've said all that -- I want to tell you that I very much appreciate all the prayers you have given on my behalf! It is so humbling to have strangers pray -- even though I know we are sisters in Christ. So for that, thank you!

      Also, thank you for reading my blog. I'm glad you stumbled on it, and I'm glad in a small way, it has helped.

      And thank you for affirming me in my writing. I very much appreciate it!

      And last -- I'm so sorry that you've watched others around you get hurt from them opening up. That's a tragedy -- and I am so sorry to hear that.

      Thanks again, Oilbhe.


  4. Rachel,
    Oh girl, trust me I find myself in this predicament a lot as well. Feeling like maybe I drunk dialed someone and it's the day after....well actually I've never done that but you know what I mean. I feel it's important to be transparent and I believe that's what my friends and readers like about my blog. But then there is that line transparent is TOO transparent? I don't know. When I posted last week about how I'm feeling and yes, I'd have to say it's probably mild depression for me as well, I got 5 personal messages from friends within a couple hours all saying thank you for posting it and that they were feeling the same and how no one every says they're feeling that way and they felt they could identify. In that moment I knew I was supposed to write what I did, even at the risk of looking slightly crazy myself :)
    What I love about your blog is the rawness. Those of us that have experienced loss, injury, pain, sadness, grief, life not going how we wanted, etc, can all identify. I don't like pretense, I don't like pretending things are all perfect and then sobbing behind closed doors. Blogging helps bring the tears out in front, but doing so also makes us vulnerable. Sometimes I go back and read my blogs from a year or two ago. Sometimes I delete them. Sometimes I edit them. Sometimes I cry again as I relive the emotions I felt when writing it. It's courageous to put our 'diary' out in front for everyone.

    If you figure out how much is too much, let me know :)

  5. Rachel,

    I'm new to your blog (via MEND), so I haven't had a chance to read it in its entirety. However, I can say that what I HAVE read has been extremely helpful to me, as a mother who has also suffered loss. Thank you for your honesty; it has made me feel less alone. Your writing is beautiful; you surely have a talent there!

  6. Sorry for disjointed replies, but I was trying to respond using my iPad, and if I stop typing (or have to go back in the paragraph to correct something), it stops allowing me to type. It's VERY frustrating... Anyway, here is the rest of what I had to say:

    I wanted you to know that I, too, have an intense need to share Conner's birth story. Whether our babies were born alive or not; whether they were lost in early or late pregnancy, I believe that each story has meaning and power, and I'm hopeful that it's not only the two of us who have that desire to share our story. I have been working on mine, and I feel compelled to include every. single. detail.

    I also noticed that you referenced having "succombed to depression". While it may not have been your intent, to me that made it sound as if depression is a choice one is just giving in to. I'm not at all offended by your word choice, but rather want you to know that clinical depression and/or feelings of depression aren't a choice - and as such, I hope you aren't feeling bad and/or guilty if you are suffering from depression. Your writing has evidenced that you realize when your feelings get out of control, and I'm glad to see that. I also want you to know that I'd be happy to be your sounding board if something is scaring you, or if you feel like you have no one else to talk to/cry to/scream to. The feelings of intense loneliness (even with amazing friends and our great partners nearby) can be overwhelming at times, I've found.

    Anyway, thank you again for sharing all this. Your writing is inspiring me to keep writing, which I think must be therapeutic.


  7. Rachel, I think you should keep the Note up. There will always be the naysayers who feel a line has been crossed and that private things like this should be just that private. I must say that after I started following your blog, I have been inspired to continue with mine that I started when my son (James) was only a couple months old. At the time, I just never really knew what to write, but now I do.