we're working through things and each day gets a little less teary eyed. we're not sad that this sweet mother kept her baby - we're just sad for the future we dreamed of, and the things that might have been. for the first time since 2004 it seemed like a realistic goal to soon have a baby joining our family. we knew when we opened ourselves up for adoption that we were entering some risky territory and did our best to prepare our hearts. no matter how hard you try though, it's hard not to latch on to something you've wanted for so long - even though it is not yours.
our super fabulous social worker supplied us with some very informative information on grief. over the past few days we've been touched by the outpouring of love and support from family and friends. however, we've also had to confront their issues of anger towards this sweet mother. we understand that our friends and family have not gone through all of the courses, e-classes, webinars, books, blogs, seminars, and experiences we've encountered and that everyone grieves differently. however, we felt defensive when others said things that we wished they could take back. after all, this sweet mother had no obligation to place her baby, and she did what she felt was right for her baby. this baby was never ours. so, we just want to make sure that there are no bad feelings out there for her. she's doing all she can in this world to make a better life for her little one, and we give her all due respect - and just ask that our family and friends do the same.
for anyone who is curious, below is an excerpt from some of the information our social worker passed along to us about grief. feel free to read, take what you need, and share what you want. (while our situation is not specifically about the death of a human being, it is the death of a dream of the life of this particular baby in our family. we've been angry, we've bargained, we're coping, we're accepting, we're healing.)
"Grieving is a personal and highly individual experience. How you grieve depends on many factors, including your personality and coping style, your life experience, your faith, and the nature of the loss. The grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried – and there is no “normal” timetable for grieving. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, the grieving process is measured in years. Whatever your grief experience, it’s important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold.
Myths and Facts About Grief
MYTH: The pain will go away faster if you ignore it.
Fact: Trying to ignore your pain or keep it from surfacing will only make it worse in the long run. For real healing it is necessary to face your grief and actively deal with it.
MYTH: It’s important to be “be strong” in the face of loss.
Fact: Feeling sad, frightened, or lonely is a normal reaction to loss. Crying doesn’t mean you are weak. You don’t need to “protect” your family or friends by putting on a brave front. Showing your true feelings can help them and you.
MYTH: If you don’t cry, it means you aren’t sorry about the loss.
Fact: Crying is a normal response to sadness, but it’s not the only one. Those who don’t cry may feel the pain just as deeply as others. They may simply have other ways of showing it.
MYTH: Grief should last about a year.
Fact: There is no right or wrong time frame for grieving. How long it takes can differ from person to person. *Source: Center for Grief and Healing
The main point to remember is “there is not a typical response to loss, as there is no typical loss. Our grieving is as individual as our lives.”
The 5 Stages of Loss and Grief
By Julie Axelrod
The stages of mourning are universal and are experienced by people from all walks of life. Mourning occurs in response to an individual’s own terminal illness or to the death of a valued being, human or animal. There are five stages of normal grief. They were first proposed by Elsabeth Kubler-Ross in her 1969 book “On Death and Dying.”
In our bereavement, we spend different lengths of time working through each step and express each stage more or less intensely. The five stages do not necessarily occur in order. We often move between stages before achieving a more peaceful acceptance of death. Many of us are not afforded the luxury of time required to achieve this final stage of grief. The death of your loved one might inspire you to evaluate your own feelings of mortality. Throughout each stage, a common thread of hope emerges. As long as there is life, there is hope. As long as there is hope, there is life.
Many people do not experience the stages in the order listed below, which is okay. The key to understanding the stages is not to feel like you must go through every one of them, in precise order. Instead, it’s more helpful to look at them as guides in the grieving process — it helps you understand and put into context where you are.
1. Denial and Isolation
The first reaction to learning of terminal illness or death of a cherished loved one is to deny the reality of the situation. It is a normal reaction to rationalize overwhelming emotions. It is a defense mechanism that buffers the immediate shock. We block out the words and hide from the facts. This is a temporary response that carries us through the first wave of pain.
As the masking effects of denial and isolation begin to wear, reality and its pain re-emerge. We are not ready. The intense emotion is deflected from our vulnerable core, redirected and expressed instead as anger. The anger may be aimed at inanimate objects, complete strangers, friends or family. Anger may be directed at our dying or deceased loved one. Rationally, we know the person is not to be blamed. Emotionally, however, we may resent the person for causing us pain or for leaving us. We feel guilty for being angry, and this makes us more angry.
The doctor who diagnosed the illness and was unable to cure the disease might become a convenient target. Health professionals deal with death and dying every day. That does not make them immune to the suffering of their patients or to those who grieve for them.
Do not hesitate to ask your doctor to give you extra time or to explain just once more the details of your loved one’s illness. Arrange a special appointment or ask that he telephone you at the end of his day. Ask for clear answers to your questions regarding medical diagnosis and treatment. Understand the options available to you. Take your time.
The normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is often a need to regain control–
• If only we had sought medical attention sooner…
• If only we got a second opinion from another doctor…
• If only we had tried to be a better person toward them…
Secretly, we may make a deal with God or our higher power in an attempt to postpone the inevitable. This is a weaker line of defense to protect us from the painful reality.
Two types of depression are associated with mourning. The first one is a reaction to practical implications relating to the loss. Sadness and regret predominate this type of depression. We worry about the costs and burial. We worry that, in our grief, we have spent less time with others that depend on us. This phase may be eased by simple clarification and reassurance. We may need a bit of helpful cooperation and a few kind words. The second type of depression is more subtle and, in a sense, perhaps more private. It is our quiet preparation to separate and to bid our loved one farewell. Sometimes all we really need is a hug.
Reaching this stage of mourning is a gift not afforded to everyone. Death may be sudden and unexpected or we may never see beyond our anger or denial. It is not necessarily a mark of bravery to resist the inevitable and to deny ourselves the opportunity to make our peace. This phase is marked by withdrawal and calm. This is not a period of happiness and must be distinguished from depression.
Loved ones that are terminally ill or aging appear to go through a final period of withdrawal. This is by no means a suggestion that they are aware of their own impending death or such, only that physical decline may be sufficient to produce a similar response. Their behavior implies that it is natural to reach a stage at which social interaction is limited. The dignity and grace shown by our dying loved ones may well be their last gift to us.
Coping with loss is a ultimately a deeply personal and singular experience — nobody can help you go through it more easily or understand all the emotions that you’re going through. But others can be there for you and help comfort you through this process. The best thing you can do is to allow yourself to feel the grief as it comes over you. Resisting it only will prolong the natural process of healing."