Tuesday, January 17, 2012

When Tragedy Strikes

*cross-posted with my infertility blog*

The day after I received news about my Dad's death, I felt this urge to tell the whole world about it. One reason was probably 'coz it felt surreal to me. I mean, I didn't see his body and I wasn't there at the funeral home. I wasn't there at all to help out and my life here in Finland continued as if nothing had happened. I think telling the world (well, mostly through FB announcement) about it has helped me remember that my Dad no longer lives on earth.

Another reason was probably because my world will never be the same anymore and I want other people to know that. Funny thing was that if I compared my grief with my infertility grief, I accepted my Dad's death MUCH better than my infertility grief.

First of all, I had had time to prepare for my Dad's death and also opportunities to let him know how much I appreciated him. Secondly, his death was a natural one and he didn't have to suffer long. Thirdly, other people readily acknowledged his death and my grief and thus I got the kind of warm support that I needed.

When tragedy strikes, it feels like your universe is going on a different pace and rhythm. You notice that there are cracks and perhaps even holes all around you. Your whole world has changed. Perhaps you've even stopped living your life for a while though other people don't even realize that. Anyhow, the trouble with infertility is that it's an ambiguous loss that sparks off disenfranchise grief (click on the link to read what it means) and it took us by surprise (a hit below the belt so to speak). When I first realized that (gasp!) we could be infertile, I felt that my whole universe started cracking...and then with each month appeared one hole after another, each with different size and depth.

At that time around our journey, I also felt the urge to let the world know about the changes in our universe. It didn't help when I tried telling some people about the cracks and holes created by infertility 'coz they made me feel like I was delusional. In their eyes, those cracks and holes were invisible. And the "wrong" things they said felt like they were poking the holes (involuntarily making them bigger) or even ripping off the cracks, making me feel defensive or even angry. Or both.

But at that time, I couldn't help feeling that I was really making such a big deal out of my cracks and holes 'coz if they are blind to them, there must be other invisible cracks and holes in other people's universes as well that I may have involuntarily poked and prodded and ripped off and that made me feel guilty for lashing out on them or for being defensive. That realization also made me feel guilty for all the past wrong things I may have said to them.

However, this thought in turn made me feel angrier and frustrated 'coz I felt that I had valid reasons to be grieving in the first place and I was denied the support that a grieving person needed. Thus the cycle of doom continued...Anger, jealousy, frustration, guilt, grief, sorrow, despair, self-hate, self-loathe, self-blame, doubt, depression...you name it...one by one tumbling one after another and sometimes many of them bursting out all at once and becoming a concoction from hell.

To be fair, there were some people who did acknowledge there were holes and cracks, but more often than not, the things they said made me feel like they were suggesting band-Aids to cover them up to "heal" my universe. After some time, I felt like giving up in "educating" the world about our universe and what it may entail. (FYI, every once in a while I still try to do this, but not with the same concoction from hell like before).

Side note: For those of you who want to know the list on what not to say to an infertile, here are some links:

What Not To Say to An Infertile
Infertility Etiquette

What helped the most was probably - after a long and twisted journey before coming to the decision so trust me, it wasn't easy to make a decision like this - surrendering ourselves to a future without kids (thanks to all the prayers - I specifically asked some friends to pray The Serenity Prayer for us - and the fact that God has answered those prayers by giving us both a united voice in terms of what to do or not do and in time we could let go of that particular dream).

Our universe will never be the same, but we've stopped focusing on the cracks and holes and focusing more on looking at each other and trying to find ways to make each other happy and spending time together. We try our best to cherish every moment 'coz nobody knows when death is coming to get us...what would be the sweetest ending for our story is if God chooses to take us from earth together at the same time. :-D


  1. I read both "what not to say" links, and I was surprised to see many of the same things listed on both. Wow, people can be insensitive! But it's very admirable that you and your husband have come to agree about what to do.

    And I think, like your link about disenfranchise grief says, that you were a bit more devastated by infertility because it forced you to deny your desire and vision for your future, something that was obviously very important to you. Most people will experience the deaths of their parents, and while I imagine it's absolutely horrible, it's one of those things that happens to everyone as we age. In a way, it's a pain that binds us all. By contrast, not everyone has to experience the pain of infertility.

    Either way, I'm sorry that you've had to experience both of these things. And my hope is that, despite the very sad beginning, that it will be a great year for you. :)

  2. @Elena: THANK YOU SO MUCH for taking time to read the links (I even dare say this: on behalf of all the infertile out there as well). The world needs more people like you. :-D And THANKS for your kind words, too.

    It's been a long infertility road, but we've finally coming to a MUCH better stage. :-)

    I think more often than not, infertility will be shocking 'coz there's this assumption that it'll be "easy" to get pregnant with all the condoms and birth control etc.

    But anyway, all in all, what doesn't kill us makes us stronger, eh? :-D

  3. Weeping for the awful things u have to go through... Praying that our good Lord gives you peace in abundance, especially in times when the ugly feelings surface. HUGS

  4. @Piot: Don't worry, the ugly feelings come less and less and less often. Actually, these days only stabs of longing and sadness appear...I haven't felt the others in a LONG time. :-D HUGS back!

    THANKS for reading and esp. for having been there and having tried so much to understand that you've developed a bunch of empathy towards us folks. :-D You're a treasure!!!

  5. *HUGSSSSS* gak tau mau ngomong apa lagi because well ... gw tau gak banyak kata2 yg bisa membantu. One thing for sure, I am praying for you. *HUGSSSSSSS*

  6. @Shinta: It's not about my current IF situation actually. It just made me remember the ugliest part of IF (the grieving period) compared to my Dad's. Right now we're doing fine and we've surrendered to a future without kids.

  7. I know :) I didn't say it well, I guess. Cuman gak kebayang aja the things you have gone through. Bener2 bikin gw speechless. You are one strong and brave lady!
    Jadi yach, that's what I wanted to say ... plus that I am praying for you still (juga buat your mom and brother) supaya God's peace stays always (and supaya ugly feelings from IF gak nongol2 lagi. Kalo gw teuh masih nongol kadang2, biarpun udah punya Pooh)

  8. @Shinta: Ahhh...IC IC...OK deh...THANKS for clearing it up. I was just worried that I may have given the wrong idea by writing the post. I understand what you mean about IF feelings masih nongol2 walaupun loe udah punya Pooh. It's just human, I suppose.

    Gua baru aja baca kan buku Silent Sorority dan di situ juga ditulis pengalaman 1 orang ibu yang sempet ngomong apa yang loe omongin - soal IF feelings yang masih nongol itu walaupun dia udah adopt 2-3 anak. That doesn't mean she doesn't love the kids with everything she's got. :-)))

    Anyhow, THANKS A LOT for the prayers. REALLY appreciate each of them. :-D :-D :-D Bukannya gua ga pernah ngerasain lagi IF feelings sih, tapi porsinya JAUH lebih jarang dan JAUH lebih minim - buat perbandingan mah kalo dulu siga ditampar, ditonjok, ditendang, skrg mah kaya disuntik ama orang yang ga bisaeun nyuntik atau kaya digigit semut he he...soal frekuensinya juga udah jarang banget (THANK GOD for that!!!). I sure do need more prayers, though he he he he...'coz they have magical powers! :-D