Thursday, February 9, 2006

A Loss Mom's Obligations to Herself

Seeing a pregnant woman after your loss is inevitable. Hopefully, she will be an anonymous woman at the grocery store or a celebrity expecting her first. But it will probably be your friend, sister, neighbor or someone you will have to see often. Someone who you would have jumped for joy with before, but now things are different. You are different. You are a loss mom. How do you react to them while protecting your feelings and not offending them?

YOU HAVE NO OBLIGATIONS. You do not need to be happy for them. You do not need to attend their showers. You do not need to "suffer through it." Would a friend want you to do this if they understood how much pain it caused you?

YOU CAN SET GROUND RULES. You have needs, and they are fully legitimate. If you don't want to hear about others' pregnancies, tell them. If you can hear about it up to a point, tell them. If you want the ability to listen until you are uncomfortable, warn them that you are willing to support them in their pregnancies as long as they understand and respect when you need to stop hearing about it. Perhaps, you can come up with a rescue cue, so they can help you avoid or redirect topics in group conversations. Let them know this is new for you, and because you respect them and want to maintain your friendship these are your needs and these needs will likely change from day to day. If they don't know the rules, they can't hold to them.

BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO - but sometimes it's best. We are often friends with those with whom we share things in common. We are friends on the board because we share a tragic bond. We had friends in high school because we despised the same English teacher. When your friends no longer have anything in common with you OR when what your friends have causes you pain,
the relationship no longer works for you, and you may need a "Vacation." That separation may last until you have subsequent children, it may be until an anniversary passes, it may be permanent. It is okay to take time off.

I am guilty of (and thereby a victim of) my own hardheadedness in showing how "strong" I am, as though I am on emotional "Fear Factor" begging someone to bring it on. Baby shower?--What time! Talk about pregnancy?--Go ahead. Why do we abuse ourselves? We need to be gentle with ourselves, especially since we know few others will be.

And on a side note, for those people who know how to be gentle with us .. acknowledge them - even if it was three years ago, give them a call and let them know how much you appreciate them avoiding that topic or protecting us from that question or telling that idiot to shut up ... thank them for remembering on our hard days/weeks/times. These are the people we need around us. These are the friends who have our interests at heart even while going on with their lives.

Being a loss mom is having a new identity ... a new view on reality ... a new filter for everything we experience. It is unrealistic to think we are or can be the blissfully naive people we were before our losses. Honor yourself by acknowledging that and not fulfilling social "obligations" because it's what you "should do" - all those "should's" are pretty meaningless now. When those obligations are again something that you want to do and something that you can do with more joy than pain, go back to them. Until that day, it is your duty to be true to yourself and to take
care of yourself.

~~~~~~Thanks to Stephanie of Missing Them for giving her unique view on this subject!~~~~~~

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