This post was inspired by Saturday Night Widows by Becky Aikman. After being kicked out of her widow support group for being too young, Becky creates her own support group with an unusual twist. Join From Left to Write on February 14 as we discuss Saturday Night Widows. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.
Grieving is such a personal process. I agree with Becky Aikman that there really is no 5-step program, no map to normalcy after a big shock to the system. We do what we have to do to survive the experience, whether that’s laugh or cry, wallow or compartmentalize, and we move on eventually, because we do have to live again. That’s the only viable option; to move forward.
Aikman says that a lot in Saturday Night Widows; the overwhelming desire to move forward.
This month would have been my first child’s 8th birthday, had he or she made it past 9 weeks in my womb. In July 2004, just a few weeks after we discovered that I was pregnant with our first child, I had a miscarriage. A missed miscarriage, actually, which means that while the baby’s heart stopped beating, my body didn’t do what it was supposed to do to move forward. Heartbroken, I elected to have a D&C, and to this day, I still worry that they were wrong at that ultrasound; that the heart we had seen flickering two weeks prior was still thriving and I made a horrible mistake.
People don’t understand a woman’s grief after a miscarriage unless they’ve been through one themselves. Many offer the helpful advice of: “Something must have been wrong with the baby, so you’re better off.” “You can always have another one.” “Time heals all wounds.” It’s not meant to be hurtful: they just don’t know how to comfort you, so they offer what they think will help, not realizing that a quiet shoulder to cry on would be better.
The loss was devastating. I sunk into a funk that was eventually labeled post traumatic stress disorder. I had no one in real life to go to with my constantly changing emotions, no one to guide me through this horror. The only support I could find was online.
Yes, my support group consisted of a group of women I had met through a trying to conceive/pregnancy forum who had also suffered losses. And a few bloggers, as well. Unconventional, to say the least, but it worked. I needed to surround myself with women who not only cared, but knew what was going on inside me because they had lived it, too. Over 8 years later, I still keep in touch with these women. I’m friends with most of them on Facebook, and several have become “real life” friends, as well. I never could have imagined at the time how important these women would become in my life, but I can’t imagine my life without them now. My sistas.
As trite as it is, time does, eventually, heal all wounds. Distance from the event will offer perspective that cannot possibly be had at the time, but time doesn’t do it alone. We need connections with others in order to move forward from this trauma and live again. What is a house without the support beams? What is a life without the people who help hold us up when we need it most? One that would be quite difficult to live. I am thankful for these women who have helped me regain a hold on life again and enriched the life that I’ve built since. They’ve become so much more to me than I ever anticipated from a virtual support group–a shining example of how love really does know no bounds.
Have you ever sought the help of a support group?