Saturday, June 6, 2020
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O is for Other (This loss made me an alien)

O is for Other Unpacking Grief Zombie Crystal
This was me last Halloween. It’s not so far off from how grief made me feel.

I have never felt more alone as I did after I lost my first child. Even among people whom I loved, whom I trusted, who knew me, I felt awkward, strange, disoriented. I would often find myself sitting in a group of friends or family as they laughed and shared stories. I could only be in that space for so long before I felt the world zooming away as I shrank further and further into myself. Eventually, I would become a dazed observer, watching from a shell within a shell within the shell of my body and wishing I was somewhere else. There was no connection. At all.

No man is an island, entire of itself,1 so says John Donne, but in the middle of grief, it sure effing feels like it. I felt lonely, unseen, and misunderstood. The more people’s good intentions failed to provide me with comfort and solace, the more isolated I became. And what Donne said about death diminishing him, I definitely felt that. As grief overwhelmed me, I embodied what it meant to be Other, especially to myself. I lost all sense of who I was or how I fit into this world even at the most basic level of recognizing my face in the mirror.

Losing Calvin alienated me in a way that was blindsiding, in a way that is impossible to understand unless you’ve been affected by losing a child. Even with knowing what it’s like to be marginalized because of my culture, because of my gender, because of my family’s income, even with knowing the grief of losing loved ones, this Other-ness was almost debilitating, and I was unable to find my footing until I found the baby loss community and realized that the effects of this grief were “normal.”

Have you experienced this sense of being Other?

How did it affect you? How did it affect your relationships? Do you still feel this way? What helped you find a sense of belonging again?

This post is a part of a series called Unpacking Grief, which I began as part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.

1John Donne, “Meditation XVII,” in Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions (1624), Luminarium: Anthology of English Literature, last modified November 4, 2010, accessed June 18, 2010,

Crystal is a mother-wife-writer whose explorations include parenting, grief, food, and semi-crunchy living. She is currently an MFA in writing student, a content editor for Still Standing Magazine, and the technical editor for Switchback.

0 thoughts on “O is for Other (This loss made me an alien)

    1. I will add that I have started to feel a sense of belonging in this baby loss community, and thank you, Holly, for being one of the first people to make me feel less alone in this. ♥

  1. Yes. Absolutely. My social life has been altered completely-I have to think about everything I do and say, I swear, and I still feel so…uncomfortable. I’m uncomfortable in my own skin. So much of the way I feel about people and the way I look at others has been changed.

  2. I’ve felt that isolation, but never really thought about how it feels when you’re physically standing amongst loved ones and you still feel like you’re all alone, disconnected, like a dazed observer as you said. It does feel like you’re just not part of the rest of the world anymore, and for me there were times I felt angry that those other people were still part of it. I wouldn’t say that I’ve ever really found a sense of belonging again (or at least yet), but I’ve learned to live with my life… much better now than I used to. For my situation, knowing it won’t ever be over (I can’t make my eggs better!), I think it has forever changed me. Like now I’m part of some “club” with lifetime membership, or maybe like my eyes have been opened to the real world a la The Matrix! And I can’t undo the things I’ve learned through all of this, but I think they’re good lessons that I have been able and will be able to apply to other difficult times in life.

    1. Maybe that’s part of it, Shannon–learning to live with the life we have now. I like how you compare it to “The Matrix”; it very much like that and seeing a new reality, and, I agree, it is a good thing. And I wouldn’t wish to undo what I’ve learned or how I’ve changed. ((hugs)) I wish we could somehow “restore” our fertility… maybe there is?

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29)

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