Monday, April 4, 2011
Our Grief and Closure
Yesterday during a Sunday visit with my dad, we looked at the things he’d recently sorted of my mom’s stuff. He and I perused all the remaining closets, rooms, cabinets and shelves still left to address when in one closet I found a pillow case stuffed with something. It was my Baby Tender Love doll from my preschool-aged childhood! Her hair was matted, badly suffering cowlicks. She still wore a little blue-print “onesie” gown that my mother had made for her (one of several little outfits). Other than a rip in the bottom hem and having a bad hair day, the little gal is in pretty good shape.
After I came home, I pulled Baby Tender Love out for a visit and the childhood memories came flooding back. We lived in an old dilapidated rental house on Redhill-Maxwell. As a child it seemed huge, though I remembered during a return visit as a teenager how small the rooms and yard really were. I remember playing with my dolls while sitting on the floor in the bedroom that I shared with my little brother, including my Barbie, PJ and Ken dolls for which Mom also made very fashionable clothes. I suppose all those outfits were pitched, though I did see a naked Barbie on a shelf. Evidently she's been a Nudist the last few decades.
As I remembered these memories, I hugged Baby Tender Love close to me as if she were my baby again. The rush of memories suddenly flashed forward to April 1996 when I lost my own baby at eleven weeks, and with it, the dream of being a mother. Grief struck out of nowhere and tears flowed for the little baby girl (my intuitive sense) I carried and called "Peanut." In hindsight, I now realize that I never experienced closure around this loss.
Before mom passed, I abhorred funerals. I never felt comfortable being in the same room as a dead body. Yet, I also recognized the event for what it was – closure for those who loved the one lost. When mom died, my experience was different. After seven plus years of spiritual development, and understanding life as we know it in human form is simply energy transitioning into spiritual form, I felt differently about funerals. I initially resented the visitation, because I was tired, grieving and I didn't want to meet and greet others. But I soon realized they also needed closure to deal with the passing of a friend, neighbor, relative, coworker and an acquaintance. After it was said and done, I was grateful for the visitation because I learned how much Mom impacted the lives of so many, and how they loved and appreciated her. It was such a gift.
As for my mom’s body being on display, her funeral was the first I’d been to since stepping into my spiritual journey. It wasn’t uncomfortable or awkward at all. I felt gratitude for the opportunity to have been present with my mom upon her death, and for the funeral that allowed my family and me to have closure through the final farewell as we prepared to return her to Mother Earth.
With my unborn child, there was no farewell; no funeral service or closure that signified she was gone; no opportunity to say “goodbye” after our short-lived relationship was over. There was only hemorrhaging through the night, labor pains and cramps as my body gave premature birth to the fetus. There was fear, uncertainty, and disconnect with the reality that I was losing my baby. The next morning was the doctor visit, then outpatient surgery for a DNC, then home to carry on as if none of it had ever happened. As if I’d awaken from a bad dream. I’d dealt with the grief off and on for several years afterward, and truly feel peace around it, despite the annual reminder of the lost dream of my being a mother to what would be a beautiful fourteen-year-old today. I think of “Peanut” every December, the month that would’ve been her birthday had she gone full-term.
Last evening as I held that baby doll, I strangely felt a connection I never felt with the child I lost. A physical connection that tapped right into grief left unfinished. A connection to what it might have felt like to hold my baby for the first time, if only briefly. I connected with that grief and felt a greater sense of closure. I was able to “hold” energetically my unborn baby to say “goodbye” as I embraced the Baby Tender Love that I loved so dearly as a child.
Grief is a process, ongoing and in many phases. Rushing grief is unproductive; denying grief only feeds its strength into volcanic releases. I've dealt with the loss of my unborn baby. Now this grief feels complete. Thanks Mom for hanging on to Baby Tender Love for me. And thank you Baby Tender Love for allowing me to say the goodbye I never had the chance to say fifteen years ago.