Monday, May 10, 2010

Grief and loss. Just imagine

I am facilitating a grief group and have had a lot of thoughts about grief and loss this past week. There are the expected losses that come with aging, retirement, losing friends and loved ones, pets and cherished hopes and dreams. We all must learn to cope with loss.

But some loss is hard to imagine. Imagine carrying a baby who you know is destined not to survive. Imagine that baby growing inside your body and believing it's okay until the ultrasound tells you otherwise. Imagine the heartbreak of chosing to continue with a pregnancy that will not have a viable outcome. Imagine hoping and praying it's a mistake, while knowing that it isn't. Imagine the medical discussions about what exactly is wrong with the baby and doing all the research to try to figure out when it will come, how it will look, if it will be alive and for how long. Imagine calling hospice in advance of the delivery, to make arrangements for your baby's peaceful demise. Imagine telling your family and friends that your baby isn't going to live a long and splendid life. Imagine what they can't begin to imagine saying back to you.

Imagine the baby's birth. She's alive. She lives for a very short time and you and your family hold her and love her and say goodbye. Imagine dressing her in a tiny little dress and placing her in a tiny little box and never seeing her again. Imagine going on and hanging on and living on without her. Imagine your breasts engorged with milk she will not drink. Imagine waking up to the sound of silence.

There is a couple, in fact, many a day, who don't have to imagine. So please think of them and pray for them, in your fashion. Hope time is a kind and gentle healer. Ask what you can do, even if you don't know what else to say. Say you don't know what to say. Don't run away. Ask about the baby and the birth and acknowledge that this was a life. Please be present and respectful and thank your lucky stars that you were just imagining. Some people aren't so lucky.