Sunday, April 1, 2012

Facebook -- I love you, and hate you. Sometimes, I really really hate you.

So -- I kinda have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.

I love it because I have connected with past friends, and seriously love some of those renewed friendships. I love seeing pictures of my nephew. I love my 2 support groups I have where I can post in the middle of the night, and I receive prayers and encouragement right then! I love having a platform to share my blog, and a way for it to spread around the world.

But then again, I also hate Facebook.

Mostly because of it's uncanny ability to set my emotions reeling so quickly and unexpectedly.

Those of you who have gone through a loss or have struggled with infertility probably know what I'm talking about . . .

The unexpected announcement of a pregnancy. Or belly pictures. Or ultrasound pictures.

I get that I'm in the stage of life where this is normal. And when I was pregnant with Olivia, I was innocently wracking my brain to figure out a fun, creative way to announce our pregnancy. (I was going to take a picture of a Starbucks' cup with our baby "order" on the side. Never quite figured out what to write -- but being in the NW, I thought it would be appropriate.)

Now, though, I am not sure  how I'll announce another pregnancy (if we have one). However I treat it, it certainly won't be the same.

Because now I know that my announcement can hurt other people.

I know that pregnancy should be innocent. That announcing a new little life should be a celebration. (As my mom said, Every life should be celebrated. No matter how long they are with us.)  But I also can't ignore this horrible feeling in my gut every time I come across a pregnancy-related post. I WANT to feel happy for that person. And no matter whether I'm happy or not, I still get this sadness that comes from deep within every single time.

I'm not asking everyone to stop posting about their pregnancies. I'm not even trying to complain. And I'm not saying that your FB life should revolve around sensitive people like me.

But I do have at least one suggestion to help those of us that are hurting . . .

Before you begin posting about your pregnancy, and you know someone who has recently gone through a loss or struggles with infertility, please let them know privately about your news before sharing on your main page.

My sister and a few friends have done this for me. And allowing me to process those feelings before it's all "public" has been very helpful for me to not get that sadness in my gut whenever they do make that big announcement ... or subsequent posts about their pregnancy.

And please give your friend your blessing if they choose not to "like," "comment" or even view your posts.

Your sensitivity and understanding will go a long way in helping those women for whom checking Facebook is akin to walking through an emotional minefield. You can really help your friend navigate those mines with just a little forethought, respect and sensitivity.

P.S. A friend who has also gone through a loss commented on Facebook that she agreed, but she has added two feelings that I want to include here because I also feel the exact same way, and wish I had included them in my original post:

1. MY pain does not and should not negate HER joy.
2. I feel awful that her blessed event evokes a reaction of extreme sadness in myself.

20 comments:

  1. I can relate to you. I sometimes feel as though Facebook is a platform for people to bash one another and that I can't stand.

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  2. These are great thoughts Rachel. I have actually thought about a lot of this recently...for if or when we have more kids and I want to announce it. I have several friends who've recently been through loss and others who don't have children yet but have been trying for 5+years or more. I have been thinking about how to announce if the time ever comes for such an announcement. Now I have more ideas, thanks to your thoughtful post.

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    1. I've been thinking a lot about this, too, as we would love to have more kids as well. How will I handle this when I now know so many with loss, and now have a blog on loss? I appreciate that you are thinking about this, and I am sure that your friends are too.

      Good luck, and thanks for reading!

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  3. I don't agree with this post. The purpose of tragedy is for us to see Gods grace and to find strength in Him to overcome our afflictions. As I have read your posts, it seems you are more focused on living in your tragedy. At some point you have to move on to the part about finding hope and overcoming this affliction. Asking others to be restrained in the expression of their joy is nothing more then trying to hold them hostage in your pain. Every baby is a blessing from the Lord and should be celebrated by all.

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    1. Anonymous: If Rachel was trying to live in her tragedy, she would not be sharing this journey of how God is working in and through her life to enable her to move forward (she will NEVER be able to simply move on). What she shares is her process to find healing and this is her (very fresh) current stage of grief; the good, the bad, and the ugly. She appears to me to be leaning on God's strength to guide her step by step, but, that doesn't make Olivia's death okay. It doesn't mean that Rachel is not still hurting, or that she is not still grieving. This process of grief is a very long, challenging, and confusing process. It is unpredictable.

      Rachel does not seem to be asking people to restrain their joy with the babies God has given them. She is however, sharing this very real stage of grief that is difficult to understand and is constantly conflicting; to help other women who might be feeling something similar to know that they are not alone! And, she is asking for sensitivity for those people who are currently in her shoes!

      When my daughter died shortly after birth, my best friend was pregnant. And even though she had never experienced the loss of a child (which I get that sense from you), she was amazing and knew that the rest of her pregnancy would be very difficult for me. She knew the upcoming birth of her son would be very difficult for me. And, she didn't tell me to just move on from our loss. She didn't tell me simply to see God's grace and strength. She gave me permission to grieve and to move forward when I was ready. The day her son was born, I BAWLED, hysterically. While I genuinely was SO happy for them, I was so sad for us. I was sad for all of the dreams that would never be realized, and the birth of her son, was just one more reminder of what we could no longer hold in our arms. 4+ years later, this little boy, and his younger sister are our godchildren and we love them as if they are our own. What helped me the most through my grief, was being surrounded by family and friends who understood that grief does not work on a timeline, and that I was not just grieving the death of my daughter, but all sorts of junk that surfaced because of her death that I was completely unprepared for (previous hurts that I had not dealt with, unresolved conflict in other relationship, etc).

      "Anonymous", You say "at some point you have to move on to the part about finding hope and overcoming this affliction." So, my question to you would be this: Who defines what "some point" is?

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    2. For a very long time -- oh so very long -- I could not reply to individual comments. But I'm choosing to do so now.

      You seem to know the point in tragedy. Which makes me wonder if you have actually ever experienced it. Because it is very hard to find the meaning and the purpose in what feels like a senseless loss.

      Also, you say that I am focused on living in my tragedy. You are correct. Life has dealt me a hard blow. 3 losses in a year and a half. A hoped for, but failed foster placement. A sudden death of a loved one. I am focused on living, on dealing, and on taking my journey one step at a time.

      Sometimes in this journey there are days (such as the one whenI wrote this post) where it was really, really hard. And because I'm committed to chronicling my journey -- I wrote about it here. And there are days where hope feels closer, God makes sense, and the world feels right.

      But the point is that it is a journey. And I'm working through it. Even when I have a hard day.

      Last -- you are correct that every baby is a blessing. And yes, every baby deserves to be celebrated by all. But you must understand that grief has robbed some women (albeit usually temporarily) of the ability to celebrate.

      I did not ask people to stop posting on FB about pregnancy. Just that they give me a little forewarning first, if they think of it.

      I'm pretty sure that doesn't constitute holding someone hostage. Just sayin'.

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  4. I have experianced loss ... And still find your criticsisome of those who celebrate new life to be vain and selfish.

    If you cannot see past your grief to see the joys of life(. Joy is still joy even if it doesnt belong to you!).....
    Then what s long life this will be for you and I am sad for you but don't feel it is everyone else's burden to stifle their joy.

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    1. Please stop reading and commenting. I will reply when I can do so in a nice way. But for now you are hurting me just too much.

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    2. There is so much in your comment, that I'm not even sure how to appropriately respond.

      I think the best I can do is to acknowledge that you must absolutely not know me. I know who I am. At times, am I vain and selfish? Of course. Everyone is.

      But that is not WHO I am most of the time. I am not criticizing others. I am not intentionally bitter. (Or even, unintentionally.) I am not saying that no one should experience the joy of pregnancy just because I can't at this time.

      One thing you said which was right was that I couldn't see past my pain to the joys of life. That's so true. Grief and loss were overwhelming at that time. I didn't know if I'd ever have a sibling for Maddy. I didn't know if I'd always hurt so very, very much. And I didn't know if there was any joy left to be had.

      So I guess the best I can do is -- you clearly don't know me, or my heart. And I am sad for YOU because I am actually a good friend with a pretty good heart. And I think the people whose opinions matter to me, are the ones who know the real me.

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  5. Anonymous #2: I do not read this post as Rachel asking people to stifle their joy. I read this post, from the perspective of someone who has experienced the loss of 5 children, to ask people to be aware of how their incredibly exciting news can be received by someone who has just experienced the death of their child. She is suggesting that if you are a close friend, that before you announce your pregnancy to the world, to share your news personally.

    I guess I relate this to someone who breaks your heart. When that person finds someone new, it stings and it hurts, regardless if you have had your heart broken in the past. Are you stifling their joy of finding new love if you admit that you are still a little heartbroken over what you have lost?

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    1. This last comment is actually for anonymous #3 - didn't realize there was another up above!

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  6. The only people on this "blog" / "let's all try and get world attention for being a martyr" who are even remotely sain are the ones with "criticism;" and let's be real this is not about coping, grieving, or even healing. This is about attention and money. Rachel said in a previous post that she wanted to monitize her blog..smart way to earn money, dumb way to heal. I feel sorry for your husband, wake up!

    As a side note I wonder how many other husbands of people who read this filth are sick of hearing about it, because the hard solution is to continue to go to therapy, write this crap in a journal, and pay attention to those who love you now.

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    1. I am not making money. My journey is not filth. If you don't like it, don't read it.

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    2. Anonymous, why do you think the expression of deep sorrow is insane? Is it insanity to express your feelings to your peers so that those with similar experiences can relate? Is it wrong to think about scraping together a little bit of money from your blog when your medical bills start coming? I thank you for your condolences, but you can keep your insults to my wife and her readers to yourself. Criticism can be very helpful, but slandering my wife, her writing, and her emotions really doesn't do anything but cause more pain.

      I want to be very clear; I fully support my wife and her efforts in writing this blog. I am proud of her honesty and bravery in putting her thoughts and emotions out there for the world to see (and criticize). You are wrong about what the hard solution is. It’s easy to write in a journal, it’s easy to cut yourself off from the world, and it’s easy to go to therapy (if you can afford it); the “hard” solution is for my wife to continue to put her depression, anxiety, love, hate, anger, joy, and trepidations on display for someone else’s benefit. If Rachel’s emotions are not for you, then don’t read about them. If you are tired of hearing your wife talk about how helpful this blog has been; perhaps you should to take some time to understand where your wife is coming from. If you want to hear my thoughts on the whole grieving process, I intend to write them soon and have Rachel post them here.

      As a side note, my wife chose not to monetize her blog because she felt it wouldn’t be helpful to her readers.

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    3. I'm guessing that SOMEHOW I know you, because I asked about what monetizing a blog was on my fb page, and not on my blog.

      That out of the way -- I can't think of anyone I know who would describe my experience as filth.

      The other criticisms I received were very personal, and hurtful. But I think, in the end, I don't feel as hurt by your words. at least not now, a year later.

      Not because they are not cruel (They are). Or personal. But because of your last line: ". . . pay attention to those who love you now." And that makes me think your words come from a place of very deep hurt.

      Perhaps you love your wife who has gone through a loss, but she is shoving you away in grief?

      I don't know. But I do hope that you find some healing for that place of hurt, whatever it is.

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  7. I can say I've definitely been on both sides of the 'how pregnancy news feels' coin. When we were going through infertility it was a very long 3 years (I know many who have suffered much longer). Pregnancy news made me ache. Not for pure jealousy or because of any ill feelings towards my fertile friends, but just because my womb yearned to carry a baby. My whole life, since I was old enough to toddle around carrying a baby doll, I wanted a baby of my own. The announcements, u/s photo's, pregnancy posts, pregnancy complaints, etc all stir up that yearning and ache just that much more and the feelings of "Why them, why not me, what's wrong with me that God won't give me a baby????"
    That being said....I now have 2 beautiful little girls both carried and birthed by my body after successful fertility treatments. When we got pregnant the 2nd time I did call a couple friends who had been trying to get pregnant for some time and still are. I wanted to give them the heads up. Both said they were fine and a special phone call wasn't necessary. I knew at least one of them was secretly angry. It's a very difficult balance to have to juggle the absolute and total joy of pregnancy (especially after yearning for so long)with trying to temper it so as not to hurt anyone. Here's the deal, it's not possible to not hurt anyone. No matter what, someone will be hurt and maybe I'm wrong and maybe in a hour or a day I'll think differently....but in this moment I think the responsibility really only falls on the aching person in terms of how they will deal with it. For the pregnant person to try and think of anyone they might need to call so they don't hurt them is very difficult and puts a large emotional burden on someone. Of course if it's a sister, very close friend, etc then by all means you should know to call and everything. I'm just talking about maybe that 2nd circle of closeness. Not family or best friends, but the layer right outside that. How could a person possibly know everyone to call so they don't get hurt? I don't know...is this making sense? I don't mean AT ALL to downplay your feelings or what you're saying Rachel. Your feelings are important and totally valid and shared by many who have or are aching for a baby. I guess I'm just trying to share a viewpoint of someone who spent a long time (hey, 3 years feels like a long time when you're 23 :) ) feeling hurt, angry, sad, etc at every pregnancy announcement and now by the Grace of God find myself on that other side (although I'm NOT pregnant now).

    Sometimes I want to post "really wishing I was pregnant, I miss it!" or something like that on FB and sometimes I get close and then delete it real quick when I remember my friends aching for babies. It's insensitive to outwardly wish for more when I have dear friends who just ache for a first and only baby. Or friends who have just lost a baby. But yet many many women don't know what infertility feels like. They don't know what a miscarriage feels like. All they know is how excited they are to be carrying a baby and that they want to scream it from the rooftops. I think just a little that our wanting them to whisper it instead is hurtful as well, in a different way.

    Life requires so much grace. For ourselves, for our friends, for our family and kids. Grace to let ourselves ache, yearn, be sad and grace also to allow our friends to experience their sheer joy and to genuinely smile and be happy for them knowing God has a plan for our lives and He is a good God.

    I'm so sorry you are aching Rach and having to go through this deep valley and experience these deep pains. Your blog is good and is helping people. Don't let the haters bring you down. Jesus had a lot of haters :)

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  8. Rachel,

    You are an amazing person and friend. I love your blog posts. Your honesty is to be admired not bashed. I believe we all have the same feelings you are having a different times in our lives. You being bashed and told off for your truth during your pain. Is, well, just plain cruel. I admire Ryan for sticking up for you(his beautiful wife). Keep your head held high and mind in prayer. These people bashing you are wrong. I am dearly sorry that their hearts are harden and not filled with compassion for someone whom is having a difficult time dealing with her child's death. I've been there too. I love u, Rachel! Thank you for your honesty and for putting your mind & heart out for the world to see.

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  9. This is the EXACT conclusion that I've come to. When processing how things could have gone differently after some others' VERY difficult pregnancy announcements, I determined that if the women had called me, talked to me, acknowledged my feelings, then when it came out to the world it would have been a lot easier. I think what it comes down to is that when someone knows you are struggling and they don't take the time to acknowledge how you will feel with their announcement, it seems like a slap in the face, that they don't care that it brings you pain.

    I also do everything I can to avoid pregnancy-related posts and with the new options, I almost always unsubscribe to that person. I have found time and time again that I would much rather cut out what I KNOW is going to hurt and try to make my time on fb less hurtful and a much safer place for me to be emotionally.

    And, I have also played over in my mind how I would announce a pregnancy. IF I ever get to do that, it would be so joyful for ME but I know there would be so many other couples still childless. I even wrote a rough draft about two years ago now (I'm not sure I saved it because I didn't end up needing it), and the words would have given glory to God and my heart going out to others still struggling with infertility. I definitely wanted to acknowledge their pain, and have vowed to myself to keep chronic giddiness and/or constant complaints under wraps. While writing this just now the scripture of Jesus' birth came to mind about how "Mary pondered these things in her heart." Mary knew there was something special going on but she didn't blab it, she kept it to herself. (Before anyone disagrees with my correlation, I admit that this occurred after Jesus was born.)

    Good for you for swimming with the sharks. I, for one, think you are doing the right thing. There will ALWAYS be those who want to keep life nice and pretty, pretending there are no "bad" things. For many years now, I have felt so very alone with my feelings about infertility, loss, others' children and now I see not only you, but those who comment who are walking my same path. It really helps to know I am not the only one feeling this way. When it feels like the world is against me for these feelings, I now know that I am NOT alone. This is my support group. I read the blog regularly because this is the stage I am currently in.

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  10. For those of you who have read this post, I would ask that you read my follow up post: "Facebook Revisited."

    http://thelewisnote.blogspot.com/2012/04/facebook-revisited.html

    I want to thank those of you who defended me. For those of you with critcisms, I've chosen not to respond individually.

    I believe that if you are saying those things about me, then you really don't know me. Not really. And I'm not going to defend myself on every point. I still stand by my words, and by my heart behind them.

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  11. Its facebook....people post the stupidest stuff on there that constantly gets them in trouble/fired/etc. that being said, people also post things that make them happy/good news/bad news/random news and they should in no way have to censor it or tell others beforehand if they don't want to.

    losing a pregnancy is a tragedy, does that mean every time you post something that could be viewed as a tragedy to someone you have to go through your friends list and notify all who may be saddened by your "good" news??? bought a new house? "ok, ok....who on my friends list recently had a house fire, lost their house in a flood..." got a new dog? "ok....lets see...oh snap, bob and martha's dog got run over last week, i better let them know i'm going to post about my new dog" got a new car and you're excited about?? "ok, ok....lets see here, who has had their car wrecked in an accident, stolen or something along those lines that would be sad to read about this moment of happiness in my life so i can slowly drop the ball on them about this??"

    new houses, pets and cars can be on the exact same emotion level for some people as a pregnancy is for others. dont deny that because it is very true. and those are just a few examples of the many happy things that people have announced on facebook over the years. someones moment of happiness and their decision to announce it should not in any way be precluded with the fear of saddening/offending/driving away others especially when announcing it on a public forum that people choose to read.

    if you think you're going to be saddened by what one of your friends may be posting on facebook heres some simple advice: DONT GET ON FACEBOOK. problem solved.

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