I’ve been wondering about the stages of grief everyone always talks about. Typically, there are seven and this is where I’m at with all of them:
Shock or Disbelief
I remember the shock. When the doctor on duty came out, a la every episode of ER ever made, to tell us they weren’t going to continue resuscitation efforts on my son, I watched as his father screamed and cried whilst alternately cradling my son in his arms and beating the walls. I sat down on the gurney next to them and watched as though this were a scene in a really sad movie. I got up and kissed my son, stroked his head and stared at his feet, noticing the blue line on his nappy, which indicated the presence of pee. Then sat down again. I signed documents and watched as they took my son’s fingerprints. Got up, kissed him again, told my mother he was cold. And sat down again. This happened a lot. Then they came in and re-positioned his body and I noticed that the bottom half of his body was a dark red colour as the blood was pooling – still no tears. I heard his father wailing, watched my mother and his sister cry uncontrollably, and asked the nurse what was wrong with me that I wasn’t crying. He looked like he was sleeping, that was the thing, I think. But I don’t know.
Shock is a bastard. Disbelief is its unkind brother.
The tears came as the undertaker finally arrived an hour or so later, put my son into a Moses basket, wrapped him in his least favourite blanket and took him away. I only cried when they tried to take him away. But I believe the shock stayed. I believe the shock stays for a long time.
I don’t know about denial. I said to a friend yesterday that, although I’ve been telling people my son has died for going into four weeks now, I still haven’t quite accepted that he’s not going to be at home when I get back from work. So I guess that might be it but I certainly can’t deny that he’s gone. I can’t hold him anymore. I have nobody to look after. These facts I can’t deny. Maybe denial doesn’t really apply to those grieving death.
Maybe it’s just something stupid women go through during break ups.
Now this, I understand. Anger flashes through me hotly and frequently, in response to the most innocuous people doing equally innocuous things (well… mostly innocuous). Someone dares stop dead in a shopping aisle to stare gormlessly at a packet of macaroni while her trolley blocks up the entire pathway… they’re faced with me yelling loudly that “yes, it’s true, I’m actually here. I actually exist. I’m not a gigantic, lifeless packet of Fatti’s and Moni’s spaghetti and I’d actually like to get past you.”
Fortunately, I tend to yell these things as I squeeze past their trolleys and continue walking on as opposed to stopping, getting my face really close to their faces and risking a “pasta fight in aisle 7” announcement.
Unfortunately, I can’t stop myself. I’m angry. I’m angry that these people are obviously not sad, have obviously not lost their babies, are so ignorantly happy in life that they truly believe they deserve to own all the space in all the world.
This seems to happen most frequently when I feel as though my presence is being ignored. When it seems people just don’t see me. Be it in traffic, in malls, wherever. This anger also flares up when people express concern about things I think are too small to worry about. I want to hit them with a sign that says exactly what’s big enough to be down about in this life.
I do wonder what that is all about and I do hope I don’t hate people for very much longer.
Who do you bargain with about something like this? It’s true; I’ve said many times that if I could go instead of him, I would. But that’s not technically bargaining is it? If I could somehow be transported to wherever Hudson is now and be invited to speak to whoever’s in charge of how things panned out, gravy, I’d go. No question. But who do grieving people bargain with? And what outcome are they hoping for? Perhaps this is a phase that is still coming. I’ll let you all know if it does.
Non-stop. All day. Every day. Every minute. Every second. Every nano second. Since the day he was born and more heavily since the day he died. This phase is never going to end. I am certain of it. It can’t with our story. I will always have had to have done more. I will always have let Hudson die. I will always have not done enough. It’s vicious. It’s unmerciful and unforgiving. It’s unbearable. Apparently, it’s something I’ll have to learn to live with.
I’m here. If I haven’t taken an Urbanol, I cry.
Acceptance and Hope
Um… I don’t know how people find acceptance but I’ve been questioning myself on hope. I cannot abide cut flowers. To me, they represent death and dying, always have. So I requested that people not send flowers or bring flowers to my son’s funeral, asking them instead to make donations in his name to a fund that we’d be using to raise awareness around CHDs.
This has now turned into a full blown thing. We have a Facebook page, called The Hudson Initiative, we’re working on a web site, we’re trying to learn how to ask people who don’t care about CHDs cos they haven’t been affected by them (yet) for money.
This could represent my version of hope, I think. I’m not sure if I got into this too soon. It’s certainly provided me with some level of distraction but, as part of the networking needed to make something like this work, I’ve had to join various groups full of parents rejoicing as their kids make it through surgery or celebrate important birthdays following surgery early on in their baby’s lives.
I’m a human being and a mother to what people in these circles call a CHD angel – how is it possible that these stories make me sad? That said, I can’t stop pushing this program, no matter how much I’d like to. Hudson’s going to make a difference, in spite of me.
To conclude, look, I don’t know why they call it stages. It all seems to happen at once and it certainly doesn’t happen in the order stipulated above but I’ve always wondered what they were and now we know. At least from my perspective.