Thursday, September 10, 2009


The other night, I sat down and read through my blog posts. I do this occasionally, the same way I read through old journals. I do it to see where I was, who I was, and how far I've come, and to find the patterns that emerge over months and years.

Earlier this month:
Sometimes talking about him seems so hard.
"And you have a son, Henry."
"Yes, we do."
It's that simple.

It's a theme I found repeated. Back in March, I wrote about talking about Henry at two baby groups:
I don't purposefully hide Henry. I don't avoid talking about him, because I do like to talk about him. But perhaps sometimes I think too much about talking about him.

[The group leader] also said that whenever I say his name she pictures his beautiful little face. Somebody thought of my baby yesterday—and all I had to say was his name.

I described getting together with somebody I had met when I took Henry to babygroup, how hard I expected it to be. How natural it was.

In July, there was the surprise of people willing to talk beyond platitudes and glossing over:
It is nice when people aren't afraid to talk about my baby and my loss and the wonder of his life and my sadness. I'm always surprised when I find them. 

And in August, there was my Facebook fiasco cleared up.

It's clear: I get anxious about talking about Henry, even though I've seen again and again that it can be a good experience. So why is it still so hard?

Maybe it's this:
It still hurts, still feels like a little piece of me dies when I say, "He died."

Or the memory of what it felt like when somebody just walked away stands out more strongly than any other.

Or I don't know what to say when somebody says, "I'm sorry" and there is a space that I feel like I need to fill.

Or  sometimes I feel like Henry is still buried under all the tubes and wires and procedures and anxiety and fear and to get to talking about him I need to tell about all that.  And sometimes that's exhausting.

Sometimes people have opened the door. They have asked a question about him or have given space to talk about him. Other times I need to open the door, especially with new people I meet. Each time I have to choose to open it and wonder what I will find behind it. And that's the scary part, the unknown outside the door each time. So that's what I'm working on: talking about Henry, saying I have two children, I have a baby who died—and figuring out what I want to say next, if I have the chance. I've been working on it for a while. You've seen me working on it for nine months now, and doubtless you will see me working on it for many more. Forgive me if I repeat myself, if I learn this lesson over and over and over again. Maybe someday it will stick.

Have you found patterns, things you keep coming back to, as you write about your baby or loss?


  1. 'perhaps sometimes I think too much about talking about him.' I think I do this too. It was lovely to hear about the group leader picturing Henry's face.

    Sometimes I don't trust people with my daughter's memory enough, there is that unknown beyond the door that you describe, perhaps I don't expect compassion and understanding to be the result of mentioning her. But it often is. Maybe I do people a disservice by feeling uncomfortable talking about her.

    Always a work in progress perhaps. This what to say thing? xo

  2. I think these patterns change over time. Earlier on it was almost impossible for me not to talk about just spilled out without the slightest provocation. Then I went through a period of needing to be keep him close. Now that I'm pregnant, its shifting again, as people seem to always ask the inevitable 'is this your first?'...I am usually honest in my answer, unless its a client or someone I don't want to engage with. It does get exhausting much energy put into convincing people 'it's ok'...its not really of course, just my reality.

  3. I do know that I comment more when I am not so emotional. Maybe that is a pattern.

  4. I have always talked about Emma, validated her existance, and never had much compassion for the squirmy look it gave the people who didn't want to hear, but now - as my living children grow I am finding a balance so they don't feel like there is a shadow in the room at all times. We'll see if it turns into a pattern...who knows.

  5. This is very brave, Sara, and I think Catherine is on to something with her comment about trusting people with Henry's memory. I imagine it takes so much energy to do this--trust people. And sometimes they will absolutely boggle it, and other times they will be precious and perfect. Oh but that's a lot of work, a lot of work on top of a lot of grieving. My heart is with you.

    And Henry is someone whose face I now imagine whenever you write about him and whenever I think of your posts later, when I am away from the computer.

  6. It makes me smile (and often cry) when people tell me they think of Henry. Kate, thank you for yet another reason to to trust people when it comes to talking about Henry.