Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Selfishness of Grief

Selfish.  Self-centered.  All consuming.  That is how my grief feels at times.  I know that in order to grieve, sometimes you do need to put yourself and your needs first.  I have read advice around pregnancy and child loss where experts, or mom's who have been their say, "It's okay to not go to your friend's baby shower, or your co-worker's child's first birthday party.  And it's fine if you stay in your pajamas all day one weekend and politely turn down your friends request to help you get out of the house."  This is about putting your grief first in an effort to heal.

Lately, however, I have felt that my grief has been selfish.  Let me explain.  I have been throwing myself into my grief that I talk about it to the ones I'm closest with ALL THE TIME.  I was out this past Saturday with my best friend from high school, Staci, and I did not shut up.  I was talking fast and with intent.  I shared with her why I was excited about My Grief Project and my grief, because it let me still connect with my daughter, and I talked insistently about why my grief aches and how I long to hold her in my arms.  My friend is amazing and let me talk, and talk, and talk, but things are going well in her life, really well, and I am happy for her, but I didn't let her talk about this as much as I normally would and I feel selfish about this looking back on it.

I have also been occupying A LOT of my sister and her husband's time to help me with this blog.  Kristi and Zach are amazing editors and know the social media world, so they have been teaching me.  But I have been abusing my role as a sister (which, to be honest, I always have) and taking advantage of their time to focus on my grief.  I don't cry on the phone with my sister, though I have done that, but I call with manic excitement about wanting to write, reach out to others through my blog, and figure out the social media world with her and Zach's help.   I know this has taken time away from her spending it with Zach and I feel self-centered for this.

But this did not all dawn on me until I was sitting on the couch last Friday night with my sister, all excited about our new ideas for the blog and other projects.  Pumped up that my grief and pain could help others and there could be a small purpose to this whole mess, when my sister, while looking at the cover photo of Nick holding Nora's feet on this blog said, "She has your toes."  Nick was leaning in to give me a good night kiss when Kristi said this, and him being so close, I could see the sadness fill his face.  In that moment I realized I had been focusing all on me and my pain, channeling it into something productive, that I had forgotten about my husband's.  At this thought, my heart dropped and it was as if tears ran through my body on the inside.  I don't want to be that person, overly focused on my own sorrow and journey that I do not notice that of the ones around me, the ones I love and need most, especially the father of my child and the man who, as one of my followers wrote of her husband 'is my safe place.'  Nick is this for me.   

So, to those that support me, love me, and are my rocks, thank you for letting me be selfish with my grief.  I obviously need to do this, but I want you to know that your grief matters to me too.  You lost someone as well.  I appreciate your love and support and I hope in the future you will let me know when you need your feelings heard and validated if I have overwhelmed you with mine.  I can do that.  After all, it's my job as a therapist, and it's nice that all of you understand this since it is my usual role, that you let me take on a different one in my relationship with all of you.  Thank you.

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