Archive for April 7, 2010

The Sisterhood


Photo appears with permission of Virginia Mak

We may not even recognize each other if we were to pass on a street but we know each other so well. Our outsides are unique to us, we come in all ages, sizes, colours and creeds but our innerselves are carbon copies of each other.

We walk the same path no matter where in the world we are. We have become secretive, good at hiding our true selves from others, even those that love us the most.

We “deal” differently, some use their faith, some their talents, some throw themselves into good works, others just throw themselves into work, some get counselling, others counsel, some have other family members who need their nurture, some eat – others don’t, some drink to fill the void that each of the Sisterhood of Sorrow feel deep within us.

We are met with well-intentioned formulae for “dealing”

“Time to move on” .. It is early days but you will feel better “…. “Time heals”….
“You had the best years of him/her”…. or “it isn’t like you had him/her for any length of time so it must be easier”….. “At least you understand why (because of the illness), there was a reason” ….or ” well at least the accident was quick it wasn’t like you had to watch him/her suffer”

and so it goes on…

Well meaning advice and observations from , the non members of the Sisterhood of Sorrow but only those that have gone through the terrible initiation of membership truly understand that you become a mother the first time your body tells you -YOU are.

And even though your child’s heart stops sometimes before they see the light of day , or days, or weeks or months or years after they come into the world of “others” YOU are changed. YOU the vessel of life has experienced something unique to mothers. As your being filled with life it set in motion a trigger – a fierce , unselfish need to protect and cherish. “Self “ is no longer part of you.

The Sisterhood knows only too well the child you carried and nurtured inside your own body left an imprint on your heart and very being that becomes another facet that is you . It doesn’t matter that you have given birth , the little being expelled from your body in pain and joy, there is an intangible something that remains, imprinted forever on your essence. Maybe one day they will discover a medical term for it but any mother knows it is there and it never goes away .

So The Sisterhood, who have bonded through the loss of their child try to move on. Our constant grief starts to embarrass some, make others uncomfortable, makes others sigh, others ignore, we make others reach for ways to help, some are scared for us and others worry . We are an emotional enigma.

Only the “sister in sorrow” knows the reality of the agony her fellow traveler feels. I am told by another sister who walked my road before me and continues her weary journey :

The pain doesn’t go away or lessen , you just get better at hiding it from the outside world – you are expected to carry on as normal eventually by those that care about you “.

We grieve, each in our different ways, we who have outlived our child, not understanding why , looking for answers that are more than platitudes of

“A greater plan” “Better place” “you are only given what you can bear”

We absorb the emotional pummeling those words bring not wanting to show the pain they cause to those who are trying to help. We know they are trying to deal with us to bring us back to being US again.

Just as becoming a mother changed us so losing a child changes us , we will never be the person you knew before our loss just as we will never be the person we were before becoming a mother.

We do not walk our path by choice the journey has been cruelly thrust upon us. We do not ever want to have fellow travelers join us the way is too long and painful and the journey never-ending.

April 7, 2010 at 11:19 pm 14 comments


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