Timeline on Grief

Well, I woke up this morning and posed a question on Twitter. “What should I write about today?”

I got a few good ideas but then headed over to Band Back Together to do some work and realized today we have a post up about the timeline for grieving a full-term stillborn baby.

Take a minute to go read (and comment, if you feel led to). But the synopsis of the story is that a woman lost a baby at full term who was stillborn. Her OB cut her off for prescriptions of her anti-depressants and sent her to a therapist who sent her to a psychiatrist. Who proceeded to tell her that grieving her “dead baby” (as he called the baby the whole time) should only take a year, especially for a loss like hers. She was told she thinks about her full-term, fully formed, supposed-to-be-born-alive-but-wasn’t baby too much.

She luckily is smart enough to know better and to know that grief is like a rock in your shoe (though she uses a different analogy).

Well, hmm. {clears throat} To say this psychiatrist has pissed me off is an understatement. Things like this sometimes bother me and sometimes don’t.

Today it does.

Maybe because in 6 days Charlie will have been gone from this earth for 8 years. Maybe because I want to fix somebody or something today. Maybe just because this psychiatrist is a prick.

Grief has no timeline. It’s easy to say “a year” because then you’ve gotten to grieve each “first” with permission. Everybody expects you to be sad on your first Christmas without your child or mother. First Father’s Days are tough when your dad’s just died. But after a year, life sorta does go on for those who aren’t in your shoes (whoever YOU are, whatever YOU’ve lost).

But that doesn’t mean grieving stops.

I feel like grieving, at a certain point, is equal to loving. I think the words are interchangeable.

Some may say that my talking about Charlie and being sad that he’s not here is unhealthy and I’ve been grieving too long. But I think that by talking about him and continuing to be sad at times is an extension of my LOVE for him.

Saying I should (or she should) talk about her son less means that she should pretend he didn’t exist.

Charlie existed.

The poster on BB2G’s son Joel existed.

He may not have taken a breath outside her womb but HE EXISTED. And he was part of her. And nobody should ever tell her that she thinks about him too much.

They were both miracles. As are every other baby or child who has been taken from us too early. My friend Kristine talks about that here.

But her psychiatrist (and I’ve unfortunately heard of other therapists and psychiatrist saying the same thing) completely invalidated her and the existence of Joel. In my opinion this is inexcusable. A good therapist or psychiatrist not only needs to be book smart, but they also need to have AN OUNCE of compassion and this doctor clearly didn’t. A simple look of sorrow on his face might have helped alleviate the hurt he caused, but the knife that was dug into her back by him saying this is just so hurtful.

My heart hurts for her this morning. She’s 2 years into her grief and there are many more years of it ahead. But I choose to change the word “grieve” to “love” for her and allow her many more years of LOVING her son by remembering him and being sad that he’s not with us on Earth.

I love my Charlie by remembering him and being sad that he’s not with me. You can call it grief if you want, but I know what it really is.