Thursday, March 15, 2012

What it's like to grieve out loud.

Lately, when a friend asks me how I am, I find myself asking them a question . . . "Did you read my latest blog?"

Not because I'm so self-absorbed that I expect everyone to keep tabs on me through my blog. But it's often because I just don't know how much they already know. Are they asking because yesterday they read I tried to destroy dishes and ended up in a sobbing mess, and are worried that I might take on the office today? Or -- are they just asking because they're just checking in, just like always?

At my last counseling session, I shared how it's a little disorienting to be so open, but not know WHO is reading my blog. I just know that 98 people now know about my tantrum in the kitchen. 98 people who could be from a few dozen different countries. 98 people who could be close friends, distant acquaintances, or complete strangers. But I'll never know who those 98 are!

So besides a being a little weird at times, here are some awesome things -- and not-so-awesome things -- about grieving out loud.

It brings healing. Talking about my loss has given my pain some validation. Friends and family have actually begun to understand more what I'm going through because I write about the very deep hurts, the good days, and the bad days. I feel like because I have chosen to be open about what I'm going through, people have treated me more according to how I feel about my loss rather than what they feel about my loss.

Also, I've heard from others who have not personally experienced a loss that they appreciate finding out more about it. In part as a result of my openness, they feel more equipped to help a friend or family member through their loss. I love that. I write for those of us who are grieving -- but also for those very important support people on a journey of pregnancy loss.

It gives me a purpose. Every single one of us has probably questioned at some point, "What is the meaning of life?" That question takes on new significance when you think of a life cut short. A life, like Olivia's, where there was never even a first breath, a first word, a first anything. What is the meaning of that kind of life?

This blog gives meaning to Olivia's life. Her life touched mine profoundly, and has enabled me to see into a world a grief. A world that we like to think is the exception to this life. But as I travel deeper into this world, I discover that it is not the exception. It is the rule. Almost everyone will be touched deeply by grief. Olivia's life has given me a way to understand the pain, relate to those who are grieving, and offer a hand to hold through the process.

It makes me scared and vulnerable. I'm a people-pleaser through and through. So it's actually quite hard to be open and honest about my experience. There are still aspects to my grief that I don't know if I will ever share-- things I have done that are too embarrassing or make me ashamed. Thoughts that I've had that only God should know. Feelings that are all wrong for the situation, or are pointed at the wrong person.

I struggle with wondering if I wrote the wrong thing, or if I offended someone. I wonder if anybody is really reading or caring (even though the stats tell me people do care.) I feel insecure and afraid. Sometimes I hear the "wrong thing" more often because of the sheer fact that more people know about my early loss. But I have to say that I have also had more support, and more "right things" said, than probably the average person, too.

It makes me feel happy to help others. I've been really surprised to hear who has been helped in some small or big way from my writing. I've had women who have lost grown children relate to my blog, right alongside someone who's struggling with an unwanted pregnancy. Women who have been forced to endure all kinds of loss are reading, commenting and connecting. And somehow, the feelings I have about Olivia are helping some of them. And really, if I even just help one person, Olivia's life and death are worth it.

It also humbles me. I don't feel like I have had the worst kind of loss. I don't always even feel like my grief is as valid as others'. So when I hear that someone who has gone through a far-worse situation, but has found some ounce of comfort in my words, I am humbled. I also feel humbled because I know that nothing good really comes from me -- it always comes from God who works in me to accomplish His good purpose.

It makes me feel connected. Because people "know" me a little through this blog, I think they are more willing to confide in me. To tell me their struggles, pain and grief. And that gives me an opportunity to listen and later pray for them. I love when people tell me how they feel about my posts, and how it has related to their life and their loss. It's such a blessing to be connected to others in this way.

It helps me process. Sometimes I don't even know how I feel until I start writing, and then it all comes out and makes sense for the first time. During most of my counseling sessions, I pull out my iPhone and have my therapist read this week's blog as a jumping-off point for our discussion. To me, writing is life.

It makes me feel honored. I feel so much trust and honor when someone asks me to share their story on my blog. When I read someone's story, edit it and post it . . . I feel like they have invited me to their personal sacred ground. It is a pround blessing and joy to help other women remember their babies in this way.

I am so thankful that God planted the seed in my heart to blog about my experience . . . and I'm so thankful to watch as He uses it to reach others. For me, grieving out loud has been the best decision I could have made during this time.

But I know not everyone feels that being so "out there" is right for them.

If you have chosen to keep a little more silent during your loss, I totally respect that. If you have, what has grieving in solitude meant for you? What beautiful things have you seen come from it? What are the hard parts?


  1. I truly do not know if I could be so open with my grief the way you have in your blog. I am inspired to keep a grief journal now. Whether that be an electronic one such as this or the old school method of pen and paper, I guess I will find out. I don't know if I am at a point where I can honestly say that grief has brought one beautiful things for me just yet, but I do know that grieving in solitude is definitely hard. It's hard because I constantly wonder, other than families like ours who have and are going through such an awful event, can truly ever understand what it is like to experience such a loss. Thank you for sharing and being an inspiration.

  2. I was taught to "suck it up, and stick it out." It wasnt unfeeling, i think people were just worried i would stop trying and i know they had no idea how it felt to loose anyone. I think its awsome that you are able to be so open because even though i have had losses of my own, i still would have no idea what to say to someone else. But you have helped a lot with that. Thank you