Lately, I’ve been feeling like the inevitable isolation is approaching. The so called ‘secondary losses’ and the main one that involves friendships. It’s not that any one person in particular is letting their side down as such, it’s just that life feels.. Somewhat lonely, as if there is an approaching disappointment from somewhere. I can’t quite put my finger on it other than to express it as: the more the world moves on, and we don’t, you begin to feel even more isolated and disconnected from everything, and everyone, around you.
I think in part it’s that I’m missing Leo more and more each day. The more “normal” this all becomes, the more I feel distant from him. This whole year has been about him. It’s a year ago now that we ‘booked on’ for Leo’s cycle. And now… He’s not here. When he should be here. He really should be here.
Sometimes missing him actually feels like he’s gone away for a few years and we will get him back, like when a friend goes travelling around the world? I appreciate that sounds crazy – I am fully aware that he is gone, and that a newborn isn’t exploring the depths of South America right now. It’s just… The concept of forever doesn’t really resonate sometimes.
I guess, from the outside, people would fix the feelings of loneliness with suggestions of going back to work. On a practical level, work is where most people get their daily interaction from that prevents the feelings of general loneliness. The problem with that thought process however, is that this isn’t fixable. Missing my son that I carried for 37 weeks and 4 days isn’t fixable. I will always miss him. Maybe its another constant feeling that we have to learn to find a comfortable spot for.
It’s all interwoven with a sense of not really knowing where we stand with people. Now, if we want to make contact with someone, it’s genuinely us that have to make the first move. This is with the exception of family and a few very good, very close friends. I don’t really know how to get around this and ultimately a fair few of our closest friends aren’t ones that we stay in regular contact with anyway, so it’s not abnormal to not hear from people for a month or two. Although it is abnormal to be grieving our son so I’m not too sure what we should expect in terms of contact from people..?
I guess it all boils down to people not knowing what to say, blah blah blah. I’m afraid I am a bit tired of that one. We haven’t hibernated so the door is essentially open, I just don’t know how to invite people in. Or at least, I don’t want to have to keep inviting people in and keep fearing their refusal or awkward skirting around the big ol’ elephant that is grief and stillbirth. Its not that people who don’t contact us aren’t good friends, its just that we need our handheld through navigating any form of relationship or activity right now. Grief is actually quite debilitating at times. Everything comes with effort and anxiety.
I feel harsh to say all of this, because on the very vast majority, people have been excellent and still are. I just can’t shake this feeling that with each week, comes less support from people, less awareness that this still affects us. Daily.
Essentially, we don’t know what people are thinking and that is in itself, unsettling. Sometimes I wish we could have been there when people got the news, to understand what peoples reactions were, before they polished their thoughts and contacted us.. or didn’t. Maybe thats self-indulgent but we are all polite beings, so how much can we trust what people say to be what they genuinely feel or think? Perhaps we are selling them short by just noting a lack of contact – without being flies on the walls to their living rooms, we can only respond to the events in ours. Are they thinking of us, and don’t know what to say? Or have they stopped thinking of us? Do they expect us to be over it by now? Are they questioning why I am not working? Are they curious by the details of what happened, but afraid to ask? Are they talking to each other about it to feel involved? Do they want to even talk about Leo? Would they rather just talk about the weather? Do they think we are cursed by death and sadness? Is it more awkward for them than us, or the other way round? In essence, it’s like learning to be friends again with some people or just learning how to be a friend overall… And we just don’t have the brain power for it right now. To dance the dance of bullshit and uncertainties.
Yesterday, I posted this on my The Legacy of Leo Instagram page, a place where others going through this journey have met, and a place of safety, free from restrictions, and I very much feel it’s true. I think it sums up how I’m feeling about approaching real life friendships:
I am not alone. None of us on this journey are alone. If anything is left to be able to break in my heart, it is discovering more people on this journey. That little bit left of my heart breaks for them, because the world shatters far beyond just one heart when a baby dies.
These people that we know, mostly by the names of their baby’s, are an incredible support. I don’t recall ever being within a group of women before were I didn’t feel cautious of the impression I was giving. I do not feel judged in any way. I do not feel paranoid in any way. I feel understood. I receive compassion and understanding. There are no two faces. I trust in what others are saying. In their advice. In their expression. People are open about their truth. And ready and welcoming to ours.
There is something so extremely profound about this to me. I am a 29 year old woman. I went to an all girls school. I have moved cities and jobs several times. And yet, I don’t think I have come across a group of people so humbling and endearing, so honest and truthful before. It is like the loss so deep, strips you bare of the image you feel you need to create to the world. The only image you have left is your true self. Pain, tears, anger and fear included.
It’s the difference between feeling like you are back at secondary school, mid-puberty and utterly self conscious… To just being free.
This blog isn’t all that public and out there for my real life friends, I don’t think anyway. There’s a few who have stumbled upon it and have subscribed. Maybe that’s half the issue? People not knowing how we are and therefore not knowing what to do. But hey, it takes enough of my energy to help myself and The Wife through this, I don’t have much left to help friends too.
I am however, very thankful for the family, friends and even acquaintances who are prepared to dive in to the shit stuff. People tell us we are strong and we don’t really believe it. But in comparison to some less able, those who are prepared to dive, are brave and strong too. They will be forever remembered as walking alongside us at this time, in some way or another.