Monday, September 13, 2010

Computer Grief

I was just reading this amazing poem on Still Life 365 and grief hits me.

I try and make a comment that does some justice to the effort of the writer, the depth of my feelings and the unfairness of writing a poem about a baby who died. And I cry.

My computer ends up being the witness to my grief most times. It is when I connect with blogs on my reading list that I allow my feelings to surface. Face to face with my computer its safe to grieve. My Hubby and son are used to it and they don't comment when I am crying and reading or if I sit here all night long, they have stopped asking why.

Most of the blogs I read are written by women. Most of their readers are women gauging by the comments. Most of the authors and I have the death of their baby or significant loss in common. We mostly have grief in common. Everybody expresses their grief differently and we are often in different places based on our family's needs and our own needs. But I find that there are these fundamental places that grief takes all of us. Heartbroken and inconsolable the feelings of loneliness and forever altered, permanent differentness is stamped on each of us. We all struggle to jump back into the human race, and we do so as it is required, with varying levels of success but we are all changed by grief. The blogging community is a lifeline for many of us. I wouldn't say its a lifeline for me, I have met one lovely babylost mum (Hi, how are you going today?) but I haven't got any face to face, email or phone friendships from this community. I feel quite lonely.

I am used to being lonely, I haven't written that so that people will behave differently either. I have always felt lonely or alone, my first memory of feeling lonely is in the middle of Primary School. I was probably 10 or 11. Grief is a different kind of lonely. People don't understand why I am still so deep in grief when they have already moved on to the next thing in their lives. So I hide it. I separate myself. I don't know any other way to behave like I am normal. Their kind of normal. Hiding it doesn't work though, because nobody wants to bring it up in case it upsets me (as if I have forgotten all about it, like loosing $20 at the beach last summer), I end up grieving all alone, except for the blogging community. I am validated by them, I feel what they feel, therefore I am not mad, and the normal that I have to pretend to be is the real madness, and the blogging community validates that too (thank you everyone). I don't really have to make personal relationships to get that validation.

My family have all done so many things since my little Thomas came along. There have been overseas holidays, deaths of significant pets, children maturing and leaving home, first jobs, new jobs, qualifications earned, holiday celebrations, major health issues, family businesses sold, relationships ended, divorce, home renovations, new governments, relationships started, babies born, family breakdown, absent fathers, changing churches, money trouble, to name a few. People move on to these new places, but I don't. I don't move on, I cant move on, I am tethered to the place and time of Thomas' birth and death. I can experience those other things and reluctantly I have been present for many of them but I will always affected by the dates 17th October 2007 and 29th February 2008 and the days in between. I will never drive past one of the major hospitals in Melbourne with any other thought in my mind. I understand now that there are people who will never ever get this. I am very happy for them because they will never know this pain, they are spared.

I sit at my computer and catch up on Blog posts and comments in the mornings usually and also some evenings. Some bloggers take professional photos and post heaps of them, so I as the reader get a visual experience along with a story. The art blogs are inspiring and the artists make it look so simple, I am inspired to spend some cash on art materials, then I get stuck. Some write from their vast storehouse of experience of grief plus their infertility, or their parenting journey, disability and homeschooling, home makeovers, craft and food, weight loss, the list goes on. I want to know about people and I really enjoy reading. Blogs affect me, I like it that way. Each blog is like a never ending interactive book, until it ends or goes private. I wonder if there are any blogs in my reader that will still be there in the years in the future. I hope so. I wonder if mine will still be there.

I am not obsessed. Well, not as much as I used to be. I spend a minimum of 4 to 5 hours a week reading blogs, usually more, hence I rarely post on my own blog. Time is not the only reason I don't post very often. I find it very difficult to be actually honest about myself in a way that tells my story and shows my personality in a positive light. Also I think I have something to say then I second guess myself and I stay silent because I don't think anyone will want to read what I have posted. Blogging is such a one sided conversation, and when it's about stuff that is in the vulnerable places of my spirit and my soul I want it to appear as acceptable so I don't have to carry more pain. I am so tired of pain, it is a well worn feeling that has shaped my core. I don't want people to feel sorry for me and to be put into the too hard basket, I want people to know who I am without having to add more pain. I want to be liked.

I sometimes wonder if I just let all my stuff out onto my blog if anyone would even notice or care. I don't think I have any non-following family members who reads. But I can't write a personal grievance here, just in case I upset someone.

There are some amazing writers out there and their stories lead us into cultures that I will never get to experience first hand. I am very happy to experience them second hand via a story. I really love stories. I believe grief is important work and I want to be part of the validation process too. For my own sake as well as yours (the reader). I write this post because it means that I have to feel bold to feel OK about writing my opinion and feelings. Even though my writing is nothing special and I don't make many typos, and my photography is average, (because I usually haven't charged the camera and use my mobile phone instead) I continue to post bits and pieces. Sometimes I feel like my voice is not adding anything to the mix. Today I am putting my opinion forward and trying to honestly reveal some of me.

Maybe its because I read Rachel Simon's Angry Day and I related to it, and I cried.


  1. I have been lonely for much of my life too. Or maybe just alone. And even though I'm not alone or lonely any more and he understands, I think the land of grief is a terribly lonely place to be.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that I hear you Julie, and I'm happy to read whatever you need to say, whether it's pretty or not :o)


  2. I thought it was pretty awesome too. Was a bit triggery as well. I didn't get to sleep until at least three. I was too angry.

    Maybe we should try doing something artsy together one day. I can't seem to do it on my own either.


  3. Hi :)

    This is the worlds longest comment so I have to split it into a few :P

    The hardest thing about blogging is wanting to get your feelings and thought out of your head and make logic of them, and for people to somehow relate and understand. Along the way, blogging gets reactions which are most timessympathy or empathy which is not always what we are looking for as the blogger. Often, people read about someones feelings and sees it as a cry for help and feels that it is their job to try and fix how you are thinking or feeling.

    Now, as a person that really hasn't had anything tragic happen to them- Sometimes you feel like crap and have a bad day, sometimes there are too many emotions to be logical, sometimes you can be inconsolable over nothing... It's 'normal'. You on the other hand, do have every right to hate the world some days. You can be so consumed by grief, you don't get out of bed for the whole day from time to time. I believe you deserve a medal for each of the mornings where you do get out of bed and function for a whole day.

    It is very hard to put your feelings down and not feel like you are fishing for sympathy. For someone to tell you what a hard life you have had... or tell you that it's all going to get better on day, you'll re-join the world and be the pain will go away.. As much as it would be nice to be able to go back to who you were before you met 'grief', it is part of you now... just as Thomas was, is, and will always be.

    I want people close to me to read my blog, but then don't want them to at the same time. I want them to understand, but often when people think that they understand it, will mean that we are closer emotionally and it all makes up for when they weren't there for me when times were tough or that my thoughts and feelings have gotten any easier to talk about. And it doesn't, and never will.

  4. I think there is a difference between 'lonely' and 'alone'. I am never alone and often dream of being 'on my own' for some peace and quiet, but thats because I feel like I have no time to myself- EVER! Before having Ethan, I was never alone, but always felt lonely. I felt like I never connected with anyone, that noone understood me... Thankfully, I rarely feel like that these days- I guess its easier for me to make things positive considering I really haven't suffered all that much with the negatives.

    To be honest, I sometimes struggle with how to be tactful when it comes to talking about Ethan's Birthdays, Fathers Day and Mothers Day. Not that you ever make me feel uncomfortable about it, but because I don't want you to think that I don't care and know I can only imagine how it must be for you. I don't want to assume you can't handle it and leave you out of things when it comes to Ethan (whether it be just conversations about life, coming over to visit or celebrations) At the same time, I don't want to assume its not hard either. It's extra tricky because of the closeness in age (I can't believe Ethan and Thomas were born within a week of each other!)and that milestones and age appropriate things that I get to enjoy, you don't...

    I feel I can only try to share them with you (not that it is the same as doing it with your own child, or even close)

    You may feel like you are tethered to the one time and everything is happening around you- but you are THERE ... You do an amazing job too. I don't know if you put on your mask and your bravest face, put you grief aside and participate in whatever is happening for a day, but you ARE there. You are not just participating and putting on a show for us, you are a part of it whether you feel it or not- but would take you any which way even if you were a mess the whole time! (or at least I would). I believe, by participating in what is happening day to day, it means you are moving forward somewhat... so don't underestimate that. You don't ever have to 'move on' or get 'over it...

    I have only known you AFTER, but I cannot picture you BEFORE 17th of October 2007. All I can see today is an amazingly strong woman, that may be grieving but gets out of bed in the morning, is a fantastic Mother and Wife, and a thoughtful and inspiring person. It's not an act, its to the core... And anyone who knows you or reads you blog is blessed to read your words whether it be positive, negative or somewhere in between... And, if it means anything- I read your blog because of these reasons. I feel like you have been surrounded by boys who don't have feelings- but I do. I cry whenever I read your blog. Your words touch me... I can only try to relate to it, but I am here and I will try to understand....

    Much love XO

  5. Wow, what a great friend you have in Jesse!

    I wanted to let you know of a new community blog that I read called Band Back Together ( and @bandback2gether on Twitter). You can post there anonymously. It might be a place where you can get out the things that you don't feel comfortable posting here. I plan on submitting some posts to them... someday when I have more time!