On grief and shame

Life sometimes pushes you so hard in a certain direction that you kind of want to slap its hand off your shirt.  “All right already!  I was doing some other things, for the record.”

I may facilitate a continuing education class at our local community college about daring to communicate openly about grief in parenting circles … in any circles really.  Then, Jennie wrote to me and we’ve been emailing and learning and thinking about grief and writing.

All of that to say, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how grief and shame are often partners in a painful little dance.

When something “not okay” happens that triggers grief (death, miscarriage, divorce, disruption, alcoholism, depression, etc.)  we have (or at least I have and I think it’s fairly universal), feelings of shame.  As if, somehow, our own intrinsic “not okayness”  (which doesn’t exist, but we imagine does) brought the “not okay event” down on our heads.

Society reinforces this out of fear.  We (individually and collectively) don’t want “BAD” things to happen to us and we want to believe we can control uncontrollable and random circumstances because otherwise life is just too scary, so we assume/believe/hope falsely that when “BAD” things happen to someone else it’s because they are “BAD” or they did something “WRONG!!!” to cause the event.

I think this may be why those awful people crawl out of the wood work after a traumatic event saying, “you should have/should not have ([insert terrible  mistake here]).”  It makes them feel like it won’t happen to them.

In my opinion (which is kind of all you get here; it’s the way this blog thing works, but feel free to disagree in the comments), major religions in their worst incarnations (and they have many positive incarnations, I know) reinforce this attitude, especially western religions, because of their idea that if you are just “good enough,” “godly enough,” “pray hard enough,” GOD will help you.  By definition, then, those people who face hardships, loss, pain, etc., aren’t good enough and didn’t pray hard enough for god to help them.

And yes, I’m aware of the whole “god is with you and teaching you through your pain” fallacy.  I don’t buy it so if you do we’ll have to disagree.  As I’ve said before: “The gods I love leave life to chance and I love them better for it.”

I digress.

When you take this societal pressure based on a Western belief system and apply it to a grieving person, it reaps a culture of taboo and silence.  It’s shameful to be hurting because it means that you are “NOT OKAY” as a person.  There’s an underlying suggestion that you should be ashamed of whatever random, awful thing happened to you.  I believe we all should take responsibility for our role in our lives and the things that happen to us, but that is never the equivalent of feeling ashamed for it.

Blogging – a form of storytelling, I will add, because I love to hammer a point until it dies a painful, repetitious death – breaks down some of these barriers and taboos and allow us to see that no one is immune from “not okay” things happening.  At some point in all of our lives, a little rain will fall.  We may even find that sense of control that we need in each other.

Writing or talking about “not okay” (I use that because it’s bigger than a single category of “not okay” like “grief over a miscarriage”) with each other is better, at least I’ve found, then talking to a professional in some ways because all I want in the whole world when I’m hurting is for someone to connect with my experience and my grief and say “yes, I’ve been there, I felt just like that.”  And if they can say, “oh and I lived through the experience” (preferably, in my case, without mentioning GOD) all the better.  Social media lets that happen. It expands the realm of experiences and connection so far out of the immediate connections and day to day interactions that we have as human beings tied to our physical presence on this earth that it honestly really does feel kind of transcendent to me. Which is about as close as I come to calling something “holy” or “sacred.”

I totally just called dicking around on the internet “holy.”  Like OMFG. 

That’s what I’ve been thinking about this week, along with Thanksgiving menus and Oreo turkeys and Christmas shopping and how much I hate first-grade reading logs.  It’s a good sign.  I don’t usually start analyzing emotions until I have a little distance from them.

So, shame and grief.  Thoughts? Comments?  Pithy Observations?  Or, reading logs. Or Oreo turkeys. Whichever you feel most strongly about.

Oreo turkey by ourbestbites.com.  I know, they’ve clearly never ruined a cake.

52 Responses to On grief and shame
  1. Lene Kristin
    November 17, 2012 | 7:09 am

    I wholeheartedly agree. But where some people on the Internet let you wallow, other people make you reflect and grow and HEAL and you, dear Stacey, are a healer.

    (By the way, I got lost in the sentence starting with “Writing or talking about “not okay” (…)” and I am wondering whether you may have an open parenthesis or something going on (verb missing?) and this may be just because it’s kind of early in the morning on my side of the planet, but if it’s true then you may get a chance to add that final parenthesis or whatever before more people see it. I mean, you never misspell, you know?)

    • Anymommy
      November 17, 2012 | 4:16 pm

      What lovely words, thank you.

      I fixed that end parenthesis … but that sentence is still too long. Ah well, they can’t all be gems ;-)

      How do you pronounce your name? It’s gorgeous.

  2. Gayle
    November 17, 2012 | 8:11 am

    I feel strongly about the Oreo cookie turkey thingy. It is cute. And it looks like it takes a really long time to decorate with the frosting touches. I’m not going there.

    I also hate reading logs except when they come back with free pizza or happy meals attached. Then they are cool.

    All that other stuff makes my head hurt because I’m currently wallowing in self-pity. My son might be in trouble again and after sternly expressing myself using a lot of foul language I realized I should have just went ahead and punched the vice principal I was lecturing because she is a bitch who is harassing my child and is too dumb to understand my words anyhow. And if this screws up basketball season (which I live for) I will then have all kinds of guilt, shame and pain to write about in regards to my actions. Let’s hope not. Shame sucks.

    • Anymommy
      November 17, 2012 | 4:18 pm

      Wait, WHAT? Reading logs can come with free pizza or happy meals attached? That doesn’t happen here. I’m totally moving to Alaska now.

      I’m glad you didn’t punch the vice principal, but I’m so sorry she’s messing with your son. Shame does suck and I hope basketball season is shame, pain and guilt free.

      • Gayle
        November 19, 2012 | 8:58 am

        Wow… we are special. I’ve had kids attending UPark Elementary for 15 years now… sometimes 3 or 4 at once and every single reading log every single month for every single child comes back with a smiley face and a coupon for a free Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pizza (and new this year… a kids meal at Wendy’s). I don’t know if they do this for every elementary school in town, but they do it at mine. :) I’ll start house shopping for you…HA! NOT! You’d freeze to death.

  3. Clare
    November 17, 2012 | 9:14 am

    I think more conversation about grief/shame is good.. and when facilitated through you, GREAT!

    One thing that popped to mind when reading this is that there are some cultures in the world (based on a recent lecture I went on.. I haven’t fact check this, but it rings true) where it is also shameful to express extreme joy… the concept being that it separates you from the group. If you are elated with good news (and don’t mask this), that it shameful because it distance you from your peers.

    I sometimes wonder if as natural as grief is.. there is some tendency for groups to set up norms saying ‘ please don’t express any strong emotions’ because it is “more” important not to freak out the group. I am not saying this is a good thing, but know from personal experience I feel this pressure not show how sad I am when that is my truth.. nor how happy I am when that is true.

    I wonder if it is actually a double edge sword, uncomfortableness between the group and an individual both in times of grief and elation… not just because of fear that a bad thing happened and could therefore happen to me, but also because without social skill and compassion all huge emotional gaps have a way of putting distance between people. Such skills often are learned from watching others apply such skills, and if it becomes shameful to display one’s grief… how do we get to see others support people openly, without guilt or shame, if everyone is hiding their truth…

    But growing up, I watched my mother hide some very intense grief. We still felt it.. but I didn’t get to see what it looks like for people to rally around a grieving woman and for her to accept that love with open arms.

    I firstly really say this in this blogging community and love feeling like not only people are getting support and getting to share their truth — but I am learning how to act more compassionately from watching it all transpire across these pages and comment boxes.

    • Della Williams
      November 17, 2012 | 1:18 pm

      I enjoyed you as a writer. I love reading what you’ve learned from life experiences. I enjoy everyone’s responses.

      I thought Clare’s last paragraph sums-up my feelings concerning the blogging world and how it affects her as a person. I too have found when I read other blogs I learn “how to act more compassionately.” Lord only knows I need help during the stressful times of living; because life does make you want to “slap its hand off your shirt.” Breathing deeply . . .

    • Anymommy
      November 17, 2012 | 4:23 pm

      Yes, great point, I think even in our culture it’s only okay to be elated and express intense joy for a while or in the moment. The difference is that joy is not a hard emotion to live with, even if you feel it needs to be kept private, so I guess it doesn’t stand out as much. I hadn’t thought about it in this way but conforming to the group and social skills is a part of it. And if writing and social media are accepted by society as a way of sharing, that’s a good thing.

      I agree with you though – to have seen your mom surrounded and held up by a community rather than struggling forward alone would have been a great gift. I wish I had seen more of that in my childhood.

      • Clare
        November 17, 2012 | 5:51 pm

        I completely agree that joy is easier to experience alone than grief… and in our culture there is much less shame attached to it. I dream of a day where it is much more common to share both the joys and the sorrows in a way that more richly weaves all of our lives together — but if I can only have one, I’d take support in sorrow over sharing the joy, because it is so hard to carry a heavy heart all alone.

  4. andy
    November 17, 2012 | 1:19 pm

    Amazing, thoughtful post! Thank you so much for sharing.

  5. Candice@NotesFromABroad
    November 17, 2012 | 2:03 pm

    Thanks to the morons in a neighboring building, I had No sleep last night.
    This will be my excuse today for all remarks, comments and opinions that I will voice/write/blog.
    You cannot hold anything I say against me today. Really.

    Having grown up in a Southern atmosphere , with a mother who was truly demented and a step father who had his mind on Other things ( which eventually led to Divorce & marriage to his best friends wife … you see where I am coming from?)

    I have little to no “faith” in things .. Judgemental.
    I am judgemental but it has nothing to do with God or things holy and sacred.
    What is sacred to some is not sacred to me.

    I have my own grief that I deal with every day and I was told it would get better but in some ways it is worse and I know it will hang around for a very long time, if not forever.
    I am not ashamed of having grief but I will not share with anyone what I am grieving for, that will allow them to have an opinion and you know , no one is able to control their urges to Voice their Opinions.
    I see no shame in grieving, I would see shame in being a person who did not respect it.

    I love you. It is too early in the day for me to think such deep thoughts ( she says, tossing her long blonde hair)..

    • Anymommy
      November 17, 2012 | 4:26 pm

      Yes, I understand why you feel that way, but I wish no one had to face “fear of judgment” because they are hurting. That’s exactly what I wish we could lose as a society, all of those opinions that we throw at grieving people when all they need is understanding.

      I wish you a good night’s sleep tonight and peaceful dreams. Besos.

  6. Christine
    November 17, 2012 | 2:23 pm

    First grade reading logs. Hate them too. He’s doing the reading; I just can’t get him to write it down as well.

    I agree with everything else too, but this is the only point on which I can say “Yes, I’ve been there, I agree.” I imagine we will all live through it, but I’ve no personal proof just yet.

  7. Lady Jennie
    November 17, 2012 | 3:45 pm

    It’s for things like this:

    Blogging – a form of storytelling, I will add, because I love to hammer a point until it dies a painful, repetitious death – breaks down some of these barriers and taboos and allow us to see that no one is immune from “not okay” things happening.

    and many more reasons that I love you. :-)

    And yes, I do fully agree with you on religion’s role in increasing shame for having suffered – as if its your fault, although the Bible does say the opposite in almost every case (just for the record). But I won’t hammer that point until it dies a painful repetitious death (ha ha) because I don’t need you to think like me in order to consider you very dear.

    Great post friend.

    • Anymommy
      November 17, 2012 | 4:36 pm

      That last paragraph made me happy. It’s a delight to have friends who hold you dear enough to disagree and still listen.

  8. Sharon
    November 17, 2012 | 3:45 pm

    A lot of great thoughts here. Grief, joy, elation and shame. We really beat the shit out of ourselves don’t we…

    Can I BUY the Oreo turkeys, because they would look like road kill if attempted in my kitchen! Reading logs also bite.

  9. Korinthia
    November 17, 2012 | 4:32 pm

    I love this post. And I agree that I’d rather just connect with others who understand then talk to someone who is paid to understand. I was stunned when I had my first miscarriage just how many people I knew admitted to one as well. Relatives and friends who would nod knowingly and who got it. But I was surprised at how prevalent it was and that nobody talked about it.

    It’s funny, though, because when I started reading this and you brought up shame in connection with grief, I did not put it with feeling not worthy of goodness. My first thought was how when I’m grieving I feel ashamed for not having better perspective and appreciating what I already have. There is always someone worse off, and I feel guilty for my suffering which may pale by comparison to someone else’s. I have to convince myself that it’s okay to feel my pain.

    • suburbancorrespondent
      November 18, 2012 | 12:59 am

      I was thinking about this too, the shame of complaining when the rest of my life is so good. That’s why it helps to connnect with others who have suffered similarly – you can see with them what you cannot see in yourself, that their grief is justified no matter how privileged a life they lead.

    • Anymommy
      November 18, 2012 | 4:41 pm

      Yes, definitely. This is another important aspect of it for sure, which manifests as the “shouldn’t you be ‘over this’ by now? move on.” type reaction.

      I understand this, I’ve even felt it, there’s only so much energy others have for supporting us in our pain (because they have their own pain, sorrow, stuff to do, etc.), I wouldn’t want to be showing up every where talking incessantly about grief and sadness, which makes writing even more important because (as someone else said) when I write about it people can engage if they want to, but they don’t have to read if they aren’t there.

  10. Lesley
    November 17, 2012 | 5:19 pm

    READING LOGS. I feel strongly about reading logs. My boys are avid readers. They are “I see you sneaking that book under your desk – put it away and listen” kinds of readers. Until the reading logs come out. Then they set the timer for the minimum required reading time, and close the book when the timer goes off. No more reading for an hour, for the pleasure of continuing, to find out what happens.

    I emailed each teacher, each elementary year, and said something along the lines of I’m sorry, but I won’t be making my kid fill out a reading log. I understand that it’s important for all kids to read, and some kids need the oversight and the timing. Mine do not. And I explained.

    This usually resulted in some compromise – the easiest was my emailing the teacher once a week to say that the kid had read, with a list of titles.

    For the record, I also feel strongly about grief and guilt – but I am not as good as you are about articulating such things. Many times I have thought to email you, but it feels like a cop-out. If you can post to the internet – and you make such a good case for it – then I should be able to, too.

    Lesley

    • Anymommy
      November 18, 2012 | 5:02 pm

      Okay, that is awesome. I may try that next year. And email me any time!

  11. jen
    November 17, 2012 | 10:18 pm

    OHMYGOD … are you saying i’m not the only person that despises reading logs??? holyshit. i never knew that everyone hated them as much as me.
    also? yes. there. i’ve been there and i pulled through. though not all the way all the time. but i’m alive and living. and there are still moments and things and a tiny little pair of snowman socks in my dresser drawer that occasionally send me crashing to my knees. but i stand back up. and my world looks a bit brighter each time that i find myself standing in the dark.
    xoxo.
    me.

  12. jen
    November 17, 2012 | 10:18 pm

    OHMYGOD … are you saying i’m not the only person that despises reading logs??? holyshit. i never knew that everyone hated them as much as me.
    also? yes. there. i’ve been there and i pulled through. though not all the way all the time. but i’m alive and living. and there are still moments and things and a tiny little pair of snowman socks in my dresser drawer that occasionally send me crashing to my knees. but i stand back up. and my world looks a bit brighter each time that i find myself standing in the dark.
    xoxo.
    me.

    • Anymommy
      November 18, 2012 | 5:06 pm

      Hate. reading. logs. Hate.

      You’re an inspiration and your gorgeous pictures make me smile every time I visit.

  13. Lauren
    November 18, 2012 | 12:55 am

    De-lurking to say thank you for speaking about it. (Making this about me for a second) We had a failed adoption of two older siblings in another country almost a year ago. We spent two months together as a family there. We passed court, but then the embassy found fraud. We verified what they found and knew we could not continue. We send them to a good boarding school there now. It is hard to put into words the shame I feel. The guilt that we turned these kids’ lives upside-down. We promised we were a family forever. But instead, we send them to a nice school. As if that makes everything okay. We were going to be a family. But now we are here and they are there. We couldn’t live with the decision to fight to bring them here, knowing we would be a party to trafficking, but it is such a struggle living with this decision too. The grief that everything is so different than we planned is overwhelming some days. I miss these children I opened my heart to. There is guilt every day that I am not thankful enough for what I DO have–an amazing husband and son. The fear that we traumatized all three children and will one day have to answer for all of this. The shame that I am both not “over it” enough yet, and that I am somehow “over it” too soon. I am I am not religious, and your eloquent way of speaking of the good and bad in the world is exactly how I feel. Sorry I got a bit rambly there. Everything you said, YES. You are not alone. Thank you for speaking (writing) about something that some of us are too afraid/ashamed (or unskilled) to write about. Thank you.

    • Anymommy
      November 18, 2012 | 5:16 pm

      You are certainly not unskilled at writing! Lauren, I’m so sorry, what a terrible, terrible thing to have to experience. I hope you can find peace. Sometimes, there are only hard solutions and no perfect answers. I’ve been there, several times, and I hold tightly to the compassion and the strength it’s given me. I don’t pretend to think I did the “right” thing, only that I considered all the paths carefully and chose one. We have to, time doesn’t stop for horrific choices even when we think it should. I wish you wouldn’t think that you have to “answer” for anything. Yes, we’ll all have to live the future with all the complicated consequences of our past, but that’s true no matter what you do and no matter how you raise children. You don’t have to “answer” for the way your adoption affects your children any more than I have to “answer” for the way this miscarriage affects mine, except for this, we have to let them see us, fully and completely, our love, our pain, our difficult decisions, all of it. So that they can make their own difficult choices in their lives. Much love.

  14. Lisa
    November 18, 2012 | 1:01 am

    I’ve been trying to write a comment all day but it would appear that my thoughts are just not going to organize themselves coherently. However, apparently I am not going to let that stop me from commenting. Sorry :)

    Firstly, I agree very much about the reasons for sharing grief online and it is sort of transcendental that way, to be able connect with those who truly understand in a way only one who has been there can. I think also that, at least for me, letting it all out online via writing is easier because then, if someone doesn’t want to deal with me or what I have going on, they can simply choose not to read. In person, they HAVE to listen… even if they aren’t really in a place where they want to / can. Maybe that’s part of the “shame” thing, to feel like I shouldn’t burden people with my problems.

    I also think this applies in reverse to joy, as Clare said above, and also anger and pretty much any emotion, felt strongly. Even humor; I always feel so much more connected to someone when they write or describe something and I can think, “I’ve been there, too!”

    As for western religion’s role… well… I’ve seen it, just as you describe, for sure. However I’ve also seen the opposite be true in which people are supported by their congregation through their grief, without even the hint of an idea that they somehow brought it on themselves.

    I’m really not sure if I have a point or where I am going with this, so I’ll just stop now and say: Great writing, great ideas, great discussions. I think you will be an excellent class-facilitator!

    And I want to eat about 10 Oreo Turkeys now. Mmmm.
    -Lisa

    • anymommy
      November 19, 2012 | 5:51 pm

      I have seen some beautifully supportive religious communities as well. And you put your finger on an important point about sharing through writing; it is very passive, it gives people the choice to engage or not and that works better in all situations with strong emotions.

  15. suburbancorrespondent
    November 18, 2012 | 1:02 am

    I find that, when something has gone terribly wrong in your life, there is almost a glass wall between yourself and your friends who have not suffered in a similar manner. They are still happily on the other side of the wall, secure in their supposed knowledge that they have control over their lives, while you are stuck on the other side, stripped of any such reassurance. You can see the others through the glass, but you aren’t one of them anymore. It’s alienating, but that isn’t the other people’s fault. And maybe this is what is meant when it is said that suffering teaches us things. I know basic truths now that I wish I didn’t know, because it is easier living life not knowing them.

  16. Jen
    November 18, 2012 | 1:42 am

    Beautifully stated. I won’t go into it all, but we recently delivered our too-small baby and today we buried him. The worst – by far – experience of my nearly 31 years. And, yet, we’ve made some lovely memories…so many mothers have opened up to me to share their own gruesome experiences with similar heartache as a result of my blog. One woman who truly disliked me over some work-related issues sent me the most caring message about her own loss and her sorrow over ours. And reading your words about your grieving process has brought me much comfort…and given me a “roadmap” for what to expect.

    It’s beautiful. And impossible without social media.

    My thanks to you.

    And reading logs get worse. My fourth grade stepsons have to complete the logs AND reflect on the reading by writing a paragraph twice a week. With correct spelling. The audacity. I detest homework in general, though.

    • anymommy
      November 19, 2012 | 6:04 pm

      You’ve been in my thoughts constantly since I read about your loss, Jen.

  17. Deidre
    November 18, 2012 | 3:05 am

    Stacey, thank you once again for talking about a subject most people don’t dare to address. I have so many thoughts and don’t know where to start. First of all, I so wish social media/blogs existed 10 years ago when I was going through the loss and pain. Thankfully, I found a discussion board to connect with other moms experiencing pregnancy loss. If not for that safe place of understanding, I don’t know how I would have gotten through it. The shame associated with pregnancy loss was searing for me. I got the message from society loud and clear. It was just a miscarriage…move on. I was ONLY 20 weeks along, so how could it be so painful? I had two kids already so what right did I have to grieve the loss of a third child (and eventually, the loss of a fourth child as well)? That child was the icing on the cake..why couldn’t I just appreciate that I already had the cake and move on? My grief was so uncomfortable for everyone around me to handle. My perseverance in following my dream to expand our family was even more uncomfortable. Who did I think I was to seek medical treatment in order to have another child? Why couldn’t I just plaster a happy smile on my face and move on? In our society, no one likes to be the least bit uncomfortable, and if your grief is the source of others’ fear or discomfort, you can bet they’ll try to shut you down with shame. I’ve always been one to challenge that. I wouldn’t let myself be shamed or stifled. If people felt more free to talk about the grief, and relate to the “not okayness” in all of us, the shame would dissipate. Shame thrives in the dark. So thank you again, Stacey, for shining a light on this important subject. I know that by talking about it openly, you’re helping to heal others, and in turn, hopefully healing a little piece of your heart too.

    • anymommy
      November 19, 2012 | 6:41 pm

      I don’t have anything to add. Perfectly said.

  18. Beth
    November 18, 2012 | 4:33 am

    As someone grieving–and feeling guilty about grieving–I often think about how everyone has their pain. It may be fresh and new, it may be old and worn, but everyone has something. Now, I suck at sharing my grief in real life because it’s just so awkward to bring up and hard to talk about, but I am deeply grateful to you and your blog as well as a couple of other blogs I read, because even though I don’t talk about it much, I think about it constantly, and I also think about how I’m not alone. Somehow, it will be okay because these beautiful women I know only through their writing are feeling what I am feeling and are in the same process.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • anymommy
      November 19, 2012 | 8:03 pm

      And you do the same for me by commenting, which is exactly what I was trying to express. Thank you.

  19. anna see
    November 19, 2012 | 12:46 am

    i think grief is incredibly isolating. seriously do not know what i’d do without the blog world lifting me up and letting me write about it. i do not feel shame for grieving, but i do feel a sort of pressure to function “well” each day. i don’t think the world could handle my pure grief. i also feel pressured to go on for my daughter’s sake. it’s hard.

    btw, i showed her the oreo turkey and she said, there’s no way ours would look like that. true.

  20. Elaine
    November 19, 2012 | 4:14 am

    I’m just so sorry you feel and grief and any shame. But I am thankful for this place on the internet where we can tell you that we love you and wish we could hug away those feelings.

    xo

  21. Susanne@babyhuddle
    November 19, 2012 | 2:41 pm

    Oh hoorah for this beautifully written post! I started blogging after struggling to come to terms with my son’s traumatic birth and I have to say that writing about it has led to so many fantastic friendships, opportunities and- above all- moments of peace. No amount of professional therapies or praying would have made me feel the same way.
    Thank you for this!!
    x

  22. Susanne@babyhuddle
    November 19, 2012 | 2:45 pm

    Hoorah for this beautifully written post! I started blogging after struggling to come to terms with my son’s traumatic birth and I have to say that it has brought me more peace, friendships and happiness than any kind of professional therapies could have. Including prayer.
    xx

  23. Stephanie Precourt
    November 19, 2012 | 5:27 pm

    I understand this deeply. What brought me to the Internet webgroups and communities many years ago in the early 2000′s was my son’s epilepsy. Our pastor at church had actually asked us, in triage in the ER, if there was “anything in our lives that could have brought on this attack from the enemy.” If seeing my son like that suddenly wasn’t hard enough, I felt a crushing weight on my heart from that moment on, and still (over time it’s lost some lbs) and have never forgotten what that did to me. It’s taken me all these years really to recover and I was “saved” by finding other parents like me who got through it. They made it to the next day. And the next day. And those parents actually helped lead me to get Noah better. Anyway. This stirred up something in me. Also, his first seizure was on Thanksgiving Day in 2003 and only in the past few years do I feel no anxiety on Thanksgiving. I’m so thankful that it DID pass.

    Steph

  24. Issa
    November 19, 2012 | 5:33 pm

    Oh how I want to read all the comments on this one. Don’t have the time in the moment…but I’ll be back.

    I think what you said is true. People point fingers because it makes them feel like it can’t happen to them. Which is absolutely ridiculous. However? Human emotions at times make absolutely no sense. It’s one thing when we blame ourselves for whatever has happened, even if it was completely not our fault. Like me, beating myself up for drinking coffee in January. That’s why I didn’t get pregnant. Yeah right. But for a time I believed it and I was so very angry with myself. I think we do this stuff, because the hurt is so hard that anger at ourselves is almost easier.

    When others blame, it’s worse. They point fingers and blame (lets use the baby in the movie theater shooting here this summer as an example) and make everyone feel horrible and they WEREN’T EVEN INVOLVED! But feeling superior keeps them from their true emotion which is fear. Fear that if something can happen, like the shooting, in a good neighborhood, in a good safe community than it CAN happen anywhere, even to them. We have no control and that scares the shit out of people.

    Anyway, I think that’s how it all gets rolled into one and makes everyone crazier than they already are. I won’t touch the god issue. The person I wanted to cold-cock after I lost Piper was the one who told me that god loved her too much to share her with me. WTF? Really? And people wonder why I don’t go to church. Ahem.

  25. Carolyn
    November 19, 2012 | 8:11 pm

    You can’t imagine how it felt to open up this post today. My daughter has been hospitalized for the 4th time for a suicide attempt. She is a brilliant child (4.0 gpa) and now she may not even finish high school. I am grieving her future and her present and the shame associated with her issues has left me with no support system. Thank you for a thoughtful post.

    • anymommy
      November 20, 2012 | 3:00 am

      I’m so glad if this post or the comments helped you even a little. I wish I could hold you up in some other way. There’s no shame in helping your daughter as best you can through her pain, but I know that my saying it won’t stop you from feeling it. If you are at all interested in reading another mom who has experienced your grief first-hand, read wouldashoulda.com. That incredible momma has seen her teenage daughter through intense emotional turmoil and also grieved for the things lost, like a normal transition to high school.

      • Carolyn
        November 20, 2012 | 3:16 am

        Thank you! For what it’s worth, it’s not my shame. There is still so much stigma with mental illness that most shy away when they find out what we’re dealing with. It’s cost me a lot of friends, but then they weren’t really friends, were they? I very much appreciate the link. Thank you for being willing to write and share. It makes a big difference.

        • suburbancorrespondent
          November 20, 2012 | 4:12 am

          Email me any time, Carolyn. I think you can find the email if you click on my link up there. There ARE plenty of people to talk to for support in the blogosphere. Do NOT be alone in this. Much love.

  26. Galit Breen
    November 19, 2012 | 9:10 pm

    What you do for me is open the door wide for learning and thinking and human-ing.

    (being human, omfg, I couldn’t let go of the sweet sound of 3 ings.)

    But being human shoulder to shoulder – that’s what I find when I read you.

    So I’m nothing but grateful for you.

    (Does my comment have *anything* to do with your post?! Love me anyway?)

    xo

  27. Marta
    November 20, 2012 | 2:50 am

    My experience is that when I’m “not okay” (which for the record is often) that I feel more guilty than anything. Like I should be happy for what I have, I should be grateful that I’m not suffering through xyz like so and so. It’s this strange comparison in which I feel like my pain isn’t worthy enough, like my feelings are somehow not as intense and hurtful because there are others that are hurting MORE. This strange need to quantify hurt. And its not competition, I don’t feel competitive. I feel ashamed of talking about my hurt when others have greater hurt. And also a feeling of weakness, like I should be stronger, happier, more fulfilled. It’s as you say, this feeling of having done something BAD and if we had been BETTER we wouldn’t have this. And I don’t know why. Is it religion? Is it society as a whole? Where do we learn not to share our pain and why?

  28. KayDee
    November 21, 2012 | 11:28 am

    Reading logs = spawn of satan. AND they didn’t end till after 8th grade. Argh!

  29. MommyTime
    November 23, 2012 | 3:46 pm

    I love this so much because I think you are exactly right. (It’s fair to be all “you are a GENIUS” over ideas that coincide with one’s own, right? Of course right.) This is exactly how I felt, though I had no words or eloquence to describe it as such, when I was on the bad side of PPD with baby #1. I just kept feeling as if everyone was always asking me, “Isn’t having a new baby the most wonderful thing in the world?!?!!!” and to my shame, there was no possible way to answer that question. Because the question itself admits of no possibility that the answer will be “no,” but my experience could not allow me to say “yes.” So I did a lot of dumb smiling, vague nodding, and quietly dying inside.

    I suspect that, once one has personally experienced being “not okay” and come through the other side, it is a whole lot easier both to recognize when others are in that place and know what to say. But we need a whole lot more people facilitating support groups like you are. So, thank you for that, my friend. xoxo

  30. MRK
    December 11, 2012 | 8:51 pm

    I actually think I hate reading logs more when they do have prizes attached. My kids read to read. It’s fun TO READ. Why do we have to read for a personal pan pizza ? In my case, if one child gets a personal pan pizza for free, it means I’m out $30 because the whole family (of 6) goes and only one is free (and, yes, I understand that that’s why they give it away for free). Even worse, when the kids get older, they attach a free ticket to Six Flags to completing the reading log all year. Do you know how much it would cost me to take the whole family to a day at Six Flags (and how non enjoyable that day would be for my family of 4 young kids, 2 with attachment challenges, 1 or more with ADHD and anxiety anyway)? I keep losing those reading logs accidentally on purpose, and we just keep reading.

  31. MRK
    December 12, 2012 | 3:15 am

    You wrote: “Which is about as close as I come to calling something ‘holy’ or ‘sacred.’” And that reminded me of this: “The word sacred has two different major meanings. Sacred is used to denote specialness, to mark something as awe-inspiring, worthy of veneration, or worthy of respect. In this first sense, the nonreligious tend to hold many things sacred – life, integrity, knowledge, love, a sense of purpose, freedom of conscience, and much more. One might even hold sacred our right and duty to reject the second meaning of sacred: something inviolable, unquestionable, immune from challenge. This second definition of sacredness is much like the concept of hell – it exists primarily as a thoughtstopper. [ ]…Given that understanding of the dual meaning of sacredness, it should now make sense that I consider it a sacred duty to hold nothing sacred.” – from RAISING FREETHINKERS by Dale McGowan. This is a book that I like. Oh, and thanks for reminding me why I don’t pinterest (yet)…too many unachievable oreo turkeys out there!

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