Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Beady-eyed grudge holder

There are some things I won't or can't talk about on this blog. I think everyone has them because I never read about anyone's parents. I mean, not in a direct way. More like in a "I hung out with my folks this weekend." Never about our new relationships with our parents. Someone should break through the fourth wall. We should have a conversation about our mothers and our fathers. I know with the birth of my oldest child, I became the mother to my mother's granddaughter. And so, the death of my own daughter in my own womb means something to that relationship, I think. But also, when my daughter died, something else happened. I became her child in pain. I know we are both in pain, and I know our relationship is changing. I just don't know how yet. I am not a strong person. Nor am I a courageous person. I am just treading water over here. But someone should talk about it. Someone braver than me.


This past weekend, I visited my friend in NYC with another friend. It was a nice visit; though I was so emotionally exhausted on Sunday, I couldn't stay awake for more than three hours straight. I have really been craving girl time, and it was nice to be unencumbered by little ones, and have an afternoon wine, and talk in the rambling, beautiful way you talk to your lady friends. It was also difficult to see myself out in public. I must look so shell-shocked, so sad, so weary, so, well, fake...and then when I talk, it just must always seem to come back to my grief. I wish I were different, but I am not.

Mostly, I realize how very angry I must sound. That is what I thought after talking with them. I was ashamed at how angry I am at our mutual friends. And I am, I guess. I listed them. By name. I told them who kept their promises, who called, who didn't...I wanted to cry it all out. I wanted to scream, "THE COWARDS." I didn't do that, but I did feel horribly guilty afterward. Over a glass of wine, my friend said, "They just probably don't know what to say." And that is true. They probably don't. We discuss it on our blogs. We all make excuses for people..."Thank goodness they don't understand," we say. "How lucky to feel alienated from them, it means they don't know this pain. Maybe one day," we muse, "We will be friends again. After the dust settles."

But today, after four months of thinking about it, hearing it, and having friends make excuses for other friends, I want to say this to those people who don't know what to say:

Read a fucking book.

Google "what to say to someone grieving stillbirth". (96,000 hits come up) Or better yet, go to a fucking therapist. I have. I have done all those things to soothe my relationships with people who haven't even lost a child. I read countless boring books about grieving the loss of my child to figure out how to still be friends with some douchebag I shared an apartment with in 1993. I begun putting nice-nice shitty status updates on Facebook to make people feel comfortable. I have spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars seeing therapists to help me process my anger, and sadness, and grief, and the fucking horrible realization that I am a different, sad, broken person because my daughter died. I did that so I could function in this world and keep my friendships with people who spend their weekends not lighting a fucking candle instead of holding their newborn. I have read blogs, and tried to learn how other babylost mamas keep friendships with people who can't figure out what to say to them.

AND we say, "I feel bad for them. They don't know what to say."

Well, here's another thing I want to say, "Figure it fucking out." Because I have. And I remember. I remember everyone who sent an email, who mustered an "I'm sorry" in person, whose eyes glistened, who said my daughter's name, who called me, who dropped off food, who didn't make any excuses about why they didn't call sooner...I never used to be a grudge holder, but I might make an exception this time.

(Does this count as part of the angry stage?)


  1. I totally and completely agree with you! There have been many people on my journey who have been amazing... even people I didn't even know. And then there are others who SUCK! Others, who I thought were a lot closer to me. They always say that you find out who your true friends are when tragedy strikes... so true.
    What do I say to those "cowards"... well, if you can't 'suck it up' and acknowledge my son, then why should I be bothered to acknowledge you? Childish... maybe, but definitely a coping mechanism. I have too many wonderful friends, amazing supporter to bother with someone who has the nerve to make me feel uncomfortable... believe me, I am MORE uncomfortable than they are.

    I get it.... xo

  2. I so agree with everything you wrote about on this subject!

  3. this is just ANOTHER one of those posts I have read by all you amazing women out there that I just want to send to all (most) of my friends out there.
    you hit the nail on the head angie. we had to learn the hard way, why the fuck can't everyone else.
    thank you.

  4. Hey, woah! *I* wrote about my mom! (It's in the archives somewhere . . . .) Sadly, the people who write about their moms the most tend to have problems. There's Niobe's mom (don't get me started) and there's another blogger's mom who just pretty much kept badgering her to be happy again. It was awful.

    And I'm not sure what blogs you're reading, but I'm with you: they can all fuck off. Including my inlaws, who need more therapy regarding my daughter's death than I apparently do. I know CLC called out a friend in a restaurant for not calling her, and Julia bitched at her tight circle for forgetting her son's birthday. It's inexcusable. It's also water long under my personal bridge, and I guess I don't feel it's my obligation to go crawling back because I don't have anything to apologize for, and ultimately it's not my problem.

    I often think people think I'm still in the anger phase. Sigh.

  5. Sorry, Tash, it is true. I haven't searched archives for Mom posts...but like I said, you, Niobe, some other lady...braver than me.

    Also, another clarification, I guess I meant the Royal We, because uh, mostly, I said those ridiculous things on my blog, on other people's blogs, in emails, private conversations...to be honest, I have been a bit of a prattish asshole.

  6. I will talk to you for hours about my mom and our changing relationship whenever you'd like, but since we all know I am too stubborn to have a blog I can't honor this particular request to post about it. But here it is in a nutshell: She loves me. She's grieving. I can't let her in. I feel guilty. And then some days I really, really need her and it comes on in full force until I shut her out again. Details available upon request.

    As to friends, I responded to one person's comment that he "isn't very good at this" by yelling "then fucking get better at it." Not my finest moment, but he did get better at it. Marginally. Very marginally.

  7. Have to totally agree with you there. I remember every hug, tear and card too. I have no time for people who didn't acknowledge my loss.

    Sally sent me here to read this post in particular. She knew I would totally get it, and I do. So sorry for your loss. Looks like Christmas will be an especially hard time for both of us from now on.

  8. Would love to tackle the discussion of the mother of a child whose child died. But, like others, I'm blocked by the knowledge that she would read it and misunderstand or understand and be hurt. And I can't bear to hurt Caitlin's grandmother and I've already hurt her enough.

  9. ditto, ditto, nod, nod.
    some days I still feel like throwing things at people... even people I normally like. go figure.


    I could write a blog on this subject and it would go for paragraphs and pages and on and on.

    Where are all my friends??? GONE. They are gone.

    Because I have discovered that I do hold grudges.

    It is NOT GOOD ENOUGH to say "I don't understand". All those people should TRY TO UNDERSTAND.

    I lost TWO CHILDREN. And the same people fluffed around, not knowing what to say, being UPSET.

    How do they think I FEEL??????

    I wish that it would happen to them! There ... I said it. Isn't that awful?

    But I don't care.

    I have LOST MOST OF MY FRIENDS because they "don't know what to say". They get on with their lives whilst I'm supposed to make them feel better by PRETENDING that my life is back to "normal".

    What a load of crap. :-{

  11. I woke up back in the anger stage yesterday, so maybe I should post about my mom. The "friends" can suck it, but my mom is a whole different story. I haven't written about it because it is so exhausting, but it's coming. Maybe you'll join me??

  12. Angie, this is an excellent example of the "angry stage"!

    I keep score too. I know who asks how I am doing, who acknowledges special days, who supported my March of Dimes efforts. Even if someone asks about my garden I give them some credit. I don't bother with people who do not do these things. Totally bitchy but I just don't have the energy. I used to think that losing a friend was a horrible thing, but it's not, and in some cases it is probably a good thing.

    I'd love to write about my parents! I feel very supported by them now.

  13. Oh, ShantiMama I would love to join you, but as Cait's Mama said, she might read it and misinterpret it. I don't want to hurt my mama any more than she is already in pain. Maybe it is loyalty, or just fear, I don't think she would understand if she found it. Still, it is very tempting to join you, and talk about some of the 80 lb. gorillas soiling my carpet.

  14. Wow, this post is great Angie!
    I can't believe how in sync so many of us are on this subject.
    Nearly all of my lady friends are GONE.. members of my family around my age, all gone.
    I have literally three friends (except all of you guys) and I refuse to not talk about my daughter or not display pictures. Now I'm that crazy lady who talks about her dead child and won't just forget about it. I remind everyone of the worse that can happen and they really make no excuses for treating me like I'm contagious and it really sucks.
    I truly did learn who my friends are during tragedy. I still get to explain to L.o. why so and so doesn't bring her kid over to play anymore. That hurts the worst. When people's ignorance and selfishness affect her.
    Ok, sorry, didn't mean to go on a rant there. You touched on a subject sore to us all. (Thank you :)
    As far as my mother, same reasons as you. I don't want the phone-call
    that would inevitably follow a post about our relationship. I got told just yesterday that my last post was not even true. I have pictures and Zoe's father and our preacher that say otherwise, see my point?
    I suppose I'm not courageous either.
    Angie, thanks for saying what was on every one's mind.
    Love you linds

  15. Hmmm yup. The number of times I have ended up feeling that I should apologise for the fact that my daughter died. WHY? Why should I apologise? Why should I have to pretend that she never existed just to make other people feel comfortable. Most of my old friendships I feel pretty apathetic about, I simply can't be bothered.
    And I love my mom and my sister dearly. They have been fantastically supportive of me. But there is a nasty little part of me that is just so damn jealous of them, because their babies didn't die. I hate that.

  16. Anger stage - check! Just remember this shit isn't linear and for me, anger is my most comfortable emotion.

    Now, a year and a half later, I just feel sorry for the people that don't have enough compassion to reach out to their "friends" during a tough time. I used to be one of them. Not anymore. When I say I feel "sorry for them" - I mean, they really can bite my ass.

  17. Yep, I'm right there. ""Figure it fucking out." Thanks for the reassurance that I'm not expecting too much. The fact that we've been surprised by some who stepped up makes it all the more obvious who failed to do a damn thing. Shame on them.

  18. All so true. You write so well what I think every day. I can't write about my parents. Or my MIL. I would alienate them forever. If I told you all how they behaved. How thoughtless and careless they have been...

    I am no longer making apologies for people - they can all fuck off. All those people who never said anything. Hardley anyone did. Most cards where from distant family friends, not close good friends. They were too busy with thier own lives to worry about the loss of our little Alice. People are shit. Most of them.


  19. OH I could just kiss you.

    SMOOCHY SMOOCH. This post is such perfection.

    I'm a part of a monthly girls group. Some are better friends then others. The ONE mom in the group, the one that I really thought would understand just how painful this is and would reach out in some small way? N.O.T.H.I.N.G. No time to send a quick, impersonal, I'm sorry note, reply to my email about Rose, or her service and no time to stop by with a card (nevermind she lives oh 1/2 a mile away) or a quick call...N.O.T.H.I.N.G. Did I mention, N.O.T.H.I.N.G.? In 3 months. N.O.T.H.I.N.G. But she's had plenty of time to send emails with photos of her child on this or that adventure.

    Really, the word grudge really just does not due justice to the anger I have towards her.

    And I totally agree with Lea - if they can't bother to acknowlege our children, our loss, our pain - why tf should we be making efforts to make them comfortable by covering up our pain.

  20. i do hold grudges, i have before and i do even more now. no, i'm not proud of it, but it's part of me, especially now. my husband can't understand how i can be so petty. how i can have this list of who sent a card and who didn't. but today he was almost as outraged as i was- see my blog for details- that there are people in our life who can be so fucking stupid. ones that we think are really amazing people can be so selfish, so uncomfortable. it makes me so livid. i wish i would have said something to this person today, said i just can't deal with this falseness. like you said angie- go read a fucking book or google what to say to a friend who lost their baby.

    and moms. my mom's been the closest person to us. she has been grieving too, more than anyone else. our relationship is different, i also push her away at times and don't want to talk. it's complicated. maybe we can create an email dialogue about it? or some other safe space? or maybe we can just be real and they will read it and that will be ok b/c they will just see more of who we are and what we are going through..

  21. ps i don't know if i'll ever be out of the anger stage

  22. Yes, yes and yes. I don't think I talk about my mother because if you want to see an angry phase that will blow everyone out of the water. I think my mother thinks of Ezra as something sad that happened to me, not as her grandchild who died. She does not acknowledge him as a person and does not acknowledge the magnitude of this loss. To say more would take a book.

  23. Hi Angie,

    I so completely feel for you... Same here... I held on to all my sympathy cards (even though they're all the same because Hallmark only makes a few "sorry for the loss of your baby" cards)... I remember who called and who didn't. I think the Christmas after Alex died I deleted a bunch of people from the address list who didn't call me or at least send me a card.

    I remember the day I came back to work after taking 3 months off and felt like most people were trying so hard to look the other way and avoided me as if I had a contagious decease!!! I get it, people are uncomfortable talking about death! Sometimes I actually feel bad that I made people feel bad-does that make any sense? But why should I??? My baby died!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm the one who's suffering! The least someone can do is to acknowledge it, even if you don't know what to say, just say you're sorry. The WORST was someone actually ran away while I was telling her about losing Alex and she never came back and apologized and this person just lost a very closed family member, I wonder if she now knows how bad she made me feel that day?

    Then there's my parents who I love dearly.... But we don't always see things eye to eye. They wanted to ERASE my pain for me. They told me to not watch Alex's videos, they don't talk about Alex, they referred to me as a mother of 2! My mom actually said something about me being pregnant twice!!!!!!!!!!!! I WAS PREGNANT 3 TIMES AND I GAVE BIRTH 3 TIMES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They told me to move on for the sake of my children - they refused to watch a tape of Alex and basically told me to get over the sadness asap while I was still postpartum. I'm sorry but maybe they can do it but I physically carried him and gave birth to him. My body still aches and my heart is forever broken... But to them, if I don't talk about Alex in front of them, I must have "moved on". I've learned to accept my parents so I told myself that they just wanted to know that I was okay and not in any pain anymore. But I'm VERY MAD at them and it hurts that my own parents can't understand and feel my pain.

    You know what I think - I think people are just selfish! They don't want to deal with it therefore it's better off for us not to bring it up. It's just plain selfish if you ask me!!

    Hang in there Angie.... I can't tell you it'll get better because for me, every little step I take I seem to stumble backward.... But it does get easier and one day you'll look back and realize that you have more good days than bad days.... And being that May is coming up, I'm just a mess right now. According to Tommy, I've never gone past the "anger stage" and I've never accepted Alex's death. All I have is just one word - WHY!


  24. What a great post, Angie. I am a grudge holder and there are many people, some family members, that I have written off because they didn't bother to even call or send a card when Sydney died. I have become so close to other babyloss moms that I've met and I feel like I don't even know most of my old friends. Some friends just want to act like everything is normal, and others just avoid me. Even just saying I'm sorry or letting me talk about Sydney would be nice, better than ignoring the situation altogether.

  25. somehow, both sets of our parents and all of our siblings have been absolutely incredible. i'm not sure how we got so lucky.
    my mom frequently comments on our blog, and she does have some amazing things to say. i've had to talk to her about the future stuff, the hope she has for the next baby b/c that stuff is too hard for us. but she is there and sometimes i'll go a week without talking to her and sometimes i call her and cry every day.
    i think i ache for them as much as for us.
    i am still angry at many friends and will always hold that grudge. chris too. we could care less about the excuses. there aren't any and we are over it.
    i think we as a group are given a pass as far as how we are supposed to behave in all this. we can do whatever the f%@$k we want and no one should have anything to say about it.
    sending you much love angie...

  26. not much to say about my mother (although I have said things). she pretty much sucks.

    I have simplified my life in the friends arena. I know who sent a card or an email or at least said something. the others are no longer in my view....

    adding you to my reader...

  27. i held onto the anger phase for a long, long time. and tash is right, i started calling people out on it. needless to say, my circle of friends is much much smaller now. i don't know how you get through this without being angry at the people who act as if they didn't know or that you are fine now. you are right, those people should read an f-ing book. there's just no excuse.

  28. You know what? I'm with you, Angie. One friend, in particular, comes to mind for me. She and I have been friends since grade school. I've helped her through some tough shit. Her brother committed suicide when we were in high school. I remember the date every year and I send her a card and I call. I know it's still hard for her. Why wouldn't it be? I expected more from her when I lost E. All I got was a card that said "Sorry for your miscarriage." It wasn't a fucking miscarriage. I gave birth to her. I held her. I named her. I buried her. She wasn't a miscarriage. Then, two weeks later when I ran into my 'friend' at the drugstore, she gave me an oblivious "Hi! How are you?! Haven't seen you forever!" Um. Really? Wonder why. Idiot. Screw her. Screw them. I guess not all friendships are meant to last forever.
    I'm sorry if you were looking for a beacon of light and happiness here. At least I'm with you, right? :)
    Peace, my friend.

  29. I forgot about the mom part. Perhaps I'll get to that one day. It's complicated, you know?


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