I remember learning of my brother and sister-in-law’s struggles losing baby after baby to miscarriage. Loss piled upon loss, each one breaking my heart. I so longed to be an aunt to my brother’s children, and I so wanted them to hold those precious little one’s. The only one of his children my brother ever held was stillborn. My own grief is insignificant in light of their own, yet I grieved alone. I knew nothing about how to deal with another’s trouble. My family tends to be awkward or worse in the face of the pain of others. Silence. That is what I gave my brother. Not a call, Perhaps a card.
My tears wet my pillow, the ache in my heart I have learned to live with. Why this struggle? Why do so many of us deal so poorly with grief? Why are we so dumb when it comes to expressing sympathy?
It pains me to think that I kept silent for fear that I would make the pain worse, or that my expression of love and sympathy would be unwanted.
I have expressed this to my brother and been forgiven, but I can’t shake the sorrow and sadness, knowing how poorly I have handled this.
With this in the back of my mind, I got the call from my other brother that his baby, my niece Tiffany, had died. First, I am grateful that he called. I’m glad he let me know, that he reached out. This opening lets me know I am welcomed into this experience with him, I feel freer to express my heart. In some ways, my failure with one brother has taught me how to handle this new grief, this new loss. I love that he calls her his baby. At 15, kids think they are so grown up, but we know, we parents know that our kids will always be our babies. In those grown up faces will always remain the infant we cherished.
I wish there had been a service for each of the babies my older brother lost. Shouldn’t there be some formal recognition of the loss? Instead it is spoken of in hushed whispers, or not spoken of at all. I know better now. I would create my own sense of occasion and would, knowing what I do now, send flowers, a card, and would follow up later, to let them know I’m still thinking about them, that I still care.
That I was part of the reason for the intense loneliness that accompanied the many griefs of my older brother still makes me sad. That I can do nothing to lessen my younger brother’s grief is a fact, but at least I can let them know that I care, that I’m here, that I am grieving for them, with them.
It makes me re-think the nature of life and the meaning of life and death. My faith is not shaken, but I am re-evaluating some of my beliefs about life in general and our existence. What place grief? What place loss? What expectations do I have of a life without such? Why?