Monday, December 27, 2010

Guilt, Guilt, Guilt...

Some days, one feels like she just can't win.

Try and be happy and positive and excited for renewed hope and feel the guilt of leaving the sorrow of your dead child behind.

Mute your excitement and joy and anticipation out of respect for your sweet first-born and feel guilty for robbing your second.

Have hurt feelings because it seems as if few remembered your son and his existence at Christmas and then feel guilty because you realize you didn't really do anything special for him either. What does one do for their dead child? There's guilt in not even knowing...because the answer is that one does what is best for each individual...and that differs. Not feeling a burning desire to do 'X' or 'Y' leaves one feeling guilty.

Even airing feelings opens the guilt trap...guilt about coming across as complaining. Guilt about getting upset at something someone might say with the best of intentions and yet, makes you so aggravated you stew about it for days. Guilt about even having some of the feelings you are feeling guilty about because for Pete's sake--at least you have the joy of another child to love and to raise (you pray) and you know so many people who are struggling for that same joy to enter their lives.

Guilt, guilt, guilt.

John and I have been talking a lot about where we are now and where we were a year ago. In the same breath that he notes, "We've come a long way," he also follows with, "But I wish people knew we aren't ever going to be the same and have a long way to go." I couldn't agree more. We HAVE come a long way. But in that coming along...it's easy for people to take that 'progress' as acceptance and being ready to 'close' the Matthew chapter as we open the 'Luke' chapter.

Nothing could be further from the truth. To us, our 'progress' is just a teeny, tiny leg of the loooooong road to when we all get to Heaven.

We anticipate that'll be a while.

The purpose of continuing to write on this blog after Matthew died was to continue to share my heart with a child or children who might read it. To continue our family's story. Obviously, as others read it (and Luke is more into Tumble Bumble or Who Hoots? read by Daddy!) there are days I do find myself writing for those who may read. It's those days I worry about writing something that someone is going to take the wrong way because it is inevitable that it happens.

So...knowing that...I preface the next words with the disclaimer that I do not in any way, shape or form claim that our thoughts and feelings are rational, only that they are ours. They are not directed at anyone, and trust me when I say they are laced in guilt for even thinking them, much less writing about them.

But John said Luke might want to know one day and since he NEVER voices opinions like that, I figured I would at least write our thoughts down.

I cannot explain how nice it was to have our Pensacola friends come to visit and to be able to talk about things that many sidestep because they don't want to hurt my feelings. I TOTALLY get and appreciate that people don't want to hurt my feelings, but it's nice to be asked questions about my feelings and be able to share them without worrying about being judged for them. It's so nice to be told, "I wouldn't hurt you for anything, so if I ask you anything or talk about anything that hurts you, please tell me." This allows me to share that I am comfortable talking about Matthew and what happened with him, and more, grateful for the opportunity to do so. It's nice to be asked, "Did this help you or does it not?" or "Would you prefer people to do this or for people to do that?" and to be able to answer honestly. I always make sure it is known that my feelings and thoughts are just mine...and might be very different for another person who has experienced what we have...but just being asked is so liberating.

That liberty is really such a needed balance to the guilt we sometimes feel about our reactions to very benign and kind things people say. John and I both agree that though we appreciate and understand the enthusiasm with which so many statements are spoken, they sometimes sting a little. Statements like, "Just wait...you won't have time for: (fill in the blank with appropriate leisure activity)." or "You'll see...parenthood is completely different than the books tell you," or "As a boy mom/dad, I can tell you: (again, fill in the blank with appropriate piece of boy advice)." or even (and this we feel REALLY guilty about because we KNOW people are just being nice), "So are you ready for Luke? Do you need anything for him?"

I think that one sometimes hurts us because it's as if people forget we were ready for Matthew. Technically, we've been 'ready' for Luke since Matthew died. We did not go to the hospital planning to bring Matthew home and then get ready for him. His room was done, his clothes and diapers were bought, his stocking was hung by the chimney with care. For Luke, we've changed many things, but mos have been 'inherited' from Matthew.

I know that's not what people mean, but rational or not, as I said, it sort of feels that way.

We've been waiting for our leisure activities to be dramatically reduced (or eliminated!) for years. We've been waiting to see all the antics that a little boy will bring into our home for years. Some of the things people share with us are things that we have dreamed of and planned for for years.

I know. Irrational. Regardless...on our hearts. I think at the core, it's because all of those thoughts and sentiments are ones you normally give (and I am sure I have!) to new parents--and we certainly do not feel like new parents.

Different, but not new. Our parenthood advice obviously can't with any experience base be shared to help soothe colic or suggest a better sling, but we absolutely have parenthood experience under our belts.

Parenting a baby or child who no longer lives presents an entirely different set of challenges, trust me.

And a lot of guilt.

29 comments:

  1. Love you and love you and love you. I wish I could take away some of the guilt -- you don't deserve it. I think our tradition for Matthew will be to ring the bells; it felt right.

    ReplyDelete
  2. i once read somewhere that its important to acknowledge whatever feelings that are rising to the surface within you ( in your case guilt) recognize them and then let them go . its easier said than done i know, but i do this , sometimes its difficult but it does seem to work.
    i do understand these tugs at our heart lori, and how wonderful to have those girls to talk to about matthew and you and luke and how lucky tht you and john are on the same page too.
    find that quiet place within yourself honey all will be well, i know it will , big hugs and loads of love and peace ( true peace , not the hippy kind lol) xxx anne

    ReplyDelete
  3. Many ((HUGS)) Lori! I thought of you a lot on Christmas.

    I can relate to the guilt feeling. When Kate's twin died I was guilty the whole pregnancy. When I felt joy for Kate - guilt over her lost sibling. When I felt sad for her twin, guilt over not being thrilled to still be pregnant with a healthy baby. I had experienced loss prior to losing K's twin and remember wishing I was still pregnant with all of my being... and when I was still pregnant after a loss I tried to remind myself how other women didn't have what I had (guilt again...).

    ANYWAY, when Kate was born I had to physically remind myself that it was OKAY to feel joy. That her birth was joyous and that I could allow myself that feeling without the guilt.

    I often think of guilt as being an emotion that stems from our brains working in overdrive. Being a mother has caused me more guilt than anything in my life.... But it is usually when I over-think things that it is at its worst. If I just let the feeling come and *be* and then let it go I am truly more happy and being more honest with myself.

    Don't take this the wrong way (haha) but please allow yourself that joy. That unfiltered, wonderous, and amazingly joyous feeling of holding your sweet Luke for the first time. Matthew will not be forsaken. He will be watching over you and wishing that joy for you.

    I am so so excited for you and John. And excited to cuddle your sweet Luke when he arrives :).

    ReplyDelete
  4. I agree with jillq. Matthew would wish you joy and happiness. He knows he is loved and adored. And feeling joy for Luke in no way diminishes your love for Matthew.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow... just wow... I'm so thankful to have someone else in the same stage of pregnancy with me and thinking the same things as I am. I haven't been posting much on my blog but reading your post feels like reading my mind. I've been feeling guilty about not doing more for Kaelen this Christmas and feeling guilty for feeling guilty when I have this beautiful life inside of me waiting to arrive.

    I've been bombarded with the "Are you ready?" questions and they sting for me too (thank goodness it's not just me) because I've been ready for our 2nd son since we lost our first. My MIL was asking the other day if I had enough diapers and I was trying to tell her that we do and she just kept pushing "Are you sure? Should we get some more?"... I wanted to to yell at her "We had enough for Kaelen and he never got to use them so just stop!" (but I didn't, of course).

    My friends have been well meaning when they tell me to "appreciate the calm while I can" but it just hurts to hear that because I would take all the insanity/busyness in the world if I could have my baby Kaelen and my baby Declan together instead. I've even had some tell me how tiring the last month of pregnancy is and I just wanted to yell at them that I KNOW because this is my 3rd time there!

    Parenting a baby in heaven is definitely parenting still although very different from the norm and people just don't get that unless they've been there themselves. I'm still praying for both our babies to arrive safe and sound next week. Hugz.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I wrote one of those and am so sorry. I know that anyone who has been waiting so long for a child would give ANYthing for the lifestyle of "I have absolutely no time to do absolutely anything because of this tiny, sweet-but-demanding person that has joined us!" But I see how it could read as forgetting that you were in this same place, so eager and ready for exactly that, just over a year ago, too (and well before that). Anticipating a life with Matthew wasn't a "practice run" for one with Luke. Mentioning those things that make a new parent feel they're earning their parenting badge could sting, since you're *not* a new parent. Casually throwing out some "new parent advice" was insensitive. And regardless, I wasn't a fan of most of the unsolicited input while pregnant, and there I go spewing some out.

    Thanks for acknowledging that such comments are well-intentioned, but I still offer apologies for (1) saying something that hurt, and (2) causing the guilt you felt for even feeling that hurt in the first place (hope that made sense). I appreciate you pointing it out...something for me to file away.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I hate that you feel guilt, but you know you don't deserve it and that changes nothing! Just know that you are so very loved, so wholly supported, and such a blessing to all of us!

    No clue how your heart aches for sweet Matthew, so I won't pretend, but it's nice that others don't forget either, even when they don't know how to mention it!

    Greatly anticipating the arrival of that sweet wiggly Luke! Mine was quite the wiggler today too, couldn't find him/her on doppler at all, so we got more pics :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I often find the guilt part is now just a part of my life being a mummy to a little boy in heaven. You cannot side step it or run away from it, it grabs at you when you least expect it, as do the feelings and thoughts you describe. I gave up a long time ago trying to keep "everyone" happy because it is something that just is not possible for me to do.... you are so right in what you say about people side stepping or wide berthing the issue of our dead children, this comment is not meant to upset anyone just be factual, but truthfully it is really difficult to understand sometimes how the promise of a new child could take away the feelings that we have for our little ones that are not with us xxxx on countdown with you lori.... on countdown....xxxxxxxxxxx

    ReplyDelete
  9. I sooo get that guilty feeling! I actually just found out that I am pregnant on Christmas Eve! While I am super excited, I also know that had MJ not have died, we wouldn't have been ready to have another baby for awhile. So here we are, newly pregnant, and do we celebrate, or grieve? We just don't know. 8 more days for you, I am so excited!! And I can't wait to see Luke!!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Lori - I'm the weird lady you met today at lunch and just babbled on and on. Since I've been reading your blog forever and live in somd, I feel funny that I didn't officially introduce myself earlier. I'm sorry about that! I will drop you an email.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Sweetest Lori,

    As you say, this road of healing is a long one and yes, we all still have a long way to go, but I find great promise in HOW FAR WE'VE COME :) So long as we continue to walk hand in hand with the Master we will find comfort in the darkest hours. There is no script for how life after loss is going to play out, but we do our very best to make the most of Life as we know it. And you are doing a very good job!

    The guilt you speak of is understandable and I only wish I could tell you differently. For now, I will wish you peace of heart and comfort that can only come from above as you journey on.

    Much Love
    xxx

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank you for sharing such a heartfelt honest post. I imagine I would feel much the same way as I've already been feeling guilt and varied emotions with this pregnancy and now that I might be losing this one as well I feel so many different emotions. Its nice to know that this is normal that other people feel this way too and that I'm not alone.
    I'm glad you were able to share the Holidays with good friends who could really be there for you in a supportive, authentic way. Sending love your way and hoping that by acknowledging those feelings you're able to feel some peace ((hugs))

    ReplyDelete
  13. If I've ever said something along those lines I apologize ... even though I know you didn't write this to get apologies. Still, I know sometimes we say things thinking we're being helpful or thoughtful and forget how it may bring up some hurt. On the other side ... I think there is always guilt. Even for mom's who have never lost a child. Parenting is FULL of guilt and emotion and that's one thing that makes it special, but I so wish you didn't have to parent a child in Heaven and feel the guilt over all the things that are sure to come with Luke, knowing what could have been with Matthew. You are always on my mind and I love you so very much.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Sweet Lori,

    Your blog only gives me a tiny peek at the depth of your pain. I won't even pretend that I can imagine what it is like to be you. I do wish you didn't have to bear so much guilt, though. That just seems unfair -- and you have already experienced more than your share of unfair.

    As you know, I am one of those "struggling for that same joy to enter their lives," but I haven't thought for one second that you should just be grateful to have Luke. Matthew deserves to be honored, and I believe you do this every day with your amazing posts on this blog. Matthew will never be forgotten. And Luke will be able to "meet" his brother through your stories and memories.

    Please know that my heart aches for you, cycle buddy. And I am anxiously awaiting the good news of Luke's arrival.

    Much love and prayers.

    ReplyDelete
  15. well said. xoxoxoxoxoxxoxoxoxxoxo counting the days until precious luke is in your arms, and always remembering matthew!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Oh Lori...thank you for sharing so openly. It's like reading my own thoughts/feelings in someone elses words and experience.
    Guilt sadly lives daily for me as a parent of a surviving twin and a twin in heaven...the guilt I'm left feeling when I share about having a rough day and feel like people think I'm being ungrateful for the live of Evan. But they have no idea what it is like to love a child on earth, and children in heaven. Especially in the unique loss of one twin. My joy overflows...yet my sorrow is intertwined. And it's hurtful when others make me feel guilty for that, and don't recognize that I'm not just going to magically be "all better".
    I've now learnt that I no longer care what others think. I've learned who I can share with, and who no longer has the right to these fragile areas of my heart.

    Your visit with your friends sounds very special. I am so glad that you have such caring and thoughtful people!

    I understand how guilt somehow finds a way to override so many things. And how hard it is when others seem to forget that you have lost a child, or feel afraid (or whatever it is they feel/think) to mention that precious angel.

    I pray that these remaining days with Luke you will allow yourself the joy, and be gentle with yourself for the inevitable sorrow of missing Matthew as well.
    Joy and sorrow are hard emotions to deal with together, but as a mommy who also deals with these two very different emotions every day...I'm learning to embrace the fact that I can be happy and sad...and it doesn't mean that I am overshadowing one child over the other...I'm just trying to figure out my new "norm" and unfortuanately that involves this mix of emotion.

    We know how deeply you love Matthew, and how deeply you love Luke...you are a mommy who loves both her sons. And it is an honor to share in the memory of Matthew, and the new life of Luke.

    So much love and prayers your way, to both you and John...and to Matthew and to Luke!!!!

    Hugs always my friend,
    Heather (heathershope - HP)

    ReplyDelete
  17. I've posted a couple times before, but not often (I was the one who mentioned how the ultrasounds aren't always accurate until later on). Anyway, I'm still here and reading and wanted to offer this...

    My mother lost a little boy between my brother and I. I was 2 and he was stillborn in her 7th month of pregnancy... they induced her after they realized he was gone. I don't entirely know what happened. Anyway, my mother has a Christmas tree ornament for him that became a tradition in our house each year. (This one, a little boy baby sleeping on a cloud: http://www.tias.com/8175/PictPage/1921892203.html)

    Each year, after the tree was up, the lights were on, and the angel was placed at the top of the tree, NO ONE was to put any ornaments on until she placed Jeffery's ornament at the very top, directly under the angel.

    I have considered buying one of the ornaments that I've found online for myself, because it feels so very wrong not to hang that ornament first each year.

    Nothing can help or take it away, I know, but maybe something like that is something, anything, that you can "do". ((HUGS))

    ReplyDelete
  18. Praying for you and your husband as you get closer to Luke's arrival and safe homecoming. I felt my heart lurch as I read your post as I know these feelings very well. That feeling of anger and belittlement resulting from someone else's intended words of kindness or joy. Some days I want to shout at those well wishers, we had another baby boy, who lived shortly, but who was loved more than anything, and we are parents to him even though he is in Heaven. This baby boy in no way replaces him or makes us more or less "ready" for this baby. But most of the time, I too say nothing and feel guilty later for reading into thier intentions. I just keep praying my heart will hear thier positive intentions. Like you too, if they ask I try to gently, kindly remind them of our first baby boy and that I really adore talking about him too---as he is this baby's Big Brother. Thank you for your post!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I can def understand how certain questions just don't sit quite right. I had a few well-meaning ones when I was preg with Lainey that hurt a little. It wasn't meant that way but it did. Like when my BIL said something along the lines of 'just wait, 2 is a lot more work than 1!' I just couldn't help but think I already have 2...

    ReplyDelete
  20. Oh Lori, you have written that for so many parents. Men and women. People with one, two, three..... children living, enduring the loss of one, two, three..... children passed on.

    There is so much guilt, and so many options that can only be chosen individually.

    I am so excited for you and John to continue in your dreams of raising a child, and so sad that you have to feel and know what the loss of a child brings.

    Your sweet sweet Matthew will ALWAYS be remembered in my heart, and I find peace in knowing that my Isaiah has a good friend that has such loving parents.

    Love you,
    Jenny

    ReplyDelete
  21. <3 to you all! The 4 of you are always on our minds and in our hearts!

    Much Love!

    Shannon W.

    ReplyDelete
  22. spot on with much of how I feel some days when people make comments like this is my first child...especially people who know about Lyra.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Lol n Troll Network with the Name of Lols Gag where you can find Videos, Gif Images, Troll Images, Prank Peoples, Funny Peoples, funny planet, funny facts, funny cartoons, funny movies pics, iphone funny, funny jokes, Prank Images, Fail Pictures, Epic Pictures, Lols and Gags.
    LolsGag.Blogspot.Com

    ReplyDelete
  24. Latest Automotive Information with Pictures, latest speedy cars, top vehicles
    TopAmazingCars.BlogSpot.Com

    ReplyDelete
  25. Female Celebrties Facebook Covers, Most Popular Fb Covers in the Industry
    UniqueFbCovers.Com

    ReplyDelete
  26. Home Based Business Join Now without any Work
    Earn 400% within a Month
    Payout within 24 Hours with Perfect Money, OkPay and EgoPay
    Join Now
    Dollar-Inv.co

    ReplyDelete
  27. Earn Money with PayPal, Now you can earn 300% profit of your investment on every week, Join Now
    AllTimeProfit.com

    ReplyDelete
  28. Get Likes on your Facebook Profile Picture, Facebook Shares, Facebook Comments, Youtube Views Comments and Likes and All Social Media Likes and Follows
    Contact Now Skype : Jobz.Corner
    JobzCorner.com

    ReplyDelete