Sunday, July 12, 2020
Home > My Babies > Gaelen Evangeline > I is for Ignorance (Uncovering my ignorance through grief)

I is for Ignorance (Uncovering my ignorance through grief)

In the baby loss community, we point out the ignorance of those who don’t understand what we’re going through, who expect us to just pick up and dust off and move forward, who don’t stop and really try to imagine what it would be like to walk in our shoes. We do this to educate, in hopes that they will gain more empathy and understanding. But our families and friends aren’t the only ones who can benefit from being “de-ignorant-ized.”

Before the Mess

I used to be so good about keeping my life in order. Whether I was at work or at home, whether it was planning a project or putting together a vacation itinerary, organization and dependability are what I was known for. And I enjoyed this; I enjoyed the sense of accomplishment that came with order.

By the same token, I couldn’t comprehend how others could be so “messy” in their day-to-day living. I couldn’t make sense of why it was so hard for someone to fill-in and mail in an RSVP card when it was already stamped and addressed (especially for my wedding—didn’t they know I had better things to do than call or email or Facebook to confirm whether they could attend?). I also didn’t get why some people never paid their bills on time and then complained about the late fees when it was their own fault.

This was before I got pregnant with Calvin, before the amniotic bands, before the I’m sorry but the baby has passed away, before I was induced, before I got pregnant with Rainbow, before I started bleeding, before a year of trying to conceive and failing, before getting pregnant with Gaelen, before making the decision to have an MUA because I couldn’t wait for my body to let go of the pregnancy naturally.

Then the Grief Brain settled in

After things started going wrong with Calvin and continuing through after losing Rainbow and Gaelen, I started to lose it in other ares of my life, as well.

I is for IgnoranceMy sense of organization and order began to fall into disarray. From missing bill payments, to mixing up credit cards, to losing invitations and forgetting RSVPs, to mixing up appointment days and times, to missing the bus and then the bus stop, to forgetting birthdays (or never committing them to memory to begin with), to being nonexistent when it came to staying in touch and returning phone calls, texts, and emails. I’ve heard the term grief brain applied to this sense of disorganization (and, sometimes, disorientation). It’s like my brained had turned into a jumbled mess, like garbage that collects under and behind a couch that has been unmoved for years.

It wasn’t until I’d experienced this almost dizzying “side effect” of grieving that I began to realize and cringe at how my thinking reflected both ignorance and self-centeredness. I couldn’t believe the assumptions I used to make about what people should be able to do (when it’s really not difficult to forget a bill when you’re mind is racing and bogged down at the same time) or about the “courtesies” I expected them to have time to extend to me (when it’s so easy to lost sight of others’ expectations when you are busy just trying to keep yourself afloat).

This awareness (embarrassing as it is to admit how I used to think) has made me more sensitive and considerate. I have learned to stop when I find myself passing judgment and to become more respectful and aware of what another person could be going through. Although there is still more room for me to grow in this area, I am grateful for having gained this small bit of compassion.

Have you uncovered an ignorance of your own after a loss?

What did you learn? How did this knowledge change your perspective of others? How about of yourself?

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.

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 “I is for Ignorance (Uncovering my ignorance through grief)

  1. I was exactly like you talked about, and I spiraled for 7 years after my loss. I now have worked through it, plus the ending of my marriage. Days are still hard but learning to smile takes effort and I have finally found my joy again. Let’s just say… I’m digging out of the chaos that became my life. Your loss touched me and I’ll be following and praying for you.

    1. Thank you for your prayers, Vanessa. That means a lot. I’m glad that you are starting to find joy again and are starting to make sense out of all the chaos. It gives me hope that even after being through so much you are able to smile again.

  2. I’ve never lost a child or a pregnancy, but I have certainly been through the kind of grief you’re talking about. The kind where your mind is full and yet you can’t think. Where you go through the motions and wake up at some point in the day and wonder how you got there.

    It’s unfortunate that we have to experience it in order to have true empathy, but part of what helped me get through it was the knowing others had been there too.

    1. Karen, you described it perfectly. I think that with loss, even if the circumstances are different, a lot of the feelings–of shock, of “static” or “fuzziness”–are still very common. I agree, it does help knowing that others have been where I am and have also found a way to both honor their grief and find joy.

  3. Oh, I can absolutely relate to this as well! ‘Grief brain’ is a very good term for it. Just trying to remember to breathe can be a struggle sometimes. I remember a few months ago, not long after we lost Elijah, I was typing a letter at work and I couldn’t remember the day’s date to put at the top of the letter…and it was my birthday that day!
    I think that you are deeply insightful and you have a way of putting to words the things that so many of us feel. Thank you for your willingness to be open to the grieving process, and to be willing to learn from it and deepen your sensitivity and compassion to others.

    1. Thank you, Katie, I really appreciate that. I can’t (and yet I actually can) believe you couldn’t figure out the date on your birthday. It’s amazing how (and how many) things just seem to fall out of our head’s, isn’t it?

  4. I was absolutely nodding through this entire article. I am so type A-I used to have lists for everything. People would drive me nuts! Showing up late, rsvps, everything you said. Now, 2 years out, I feel like my brain still doesn’t even work. Like I let sooo many things slide. And when you let them slide, it adds to the feeling of “losing control.”
    You write so beautifully.

    1. Christy, I’ve past the 2-year mark since my first loss,two, and I know what you mean about feeling like your brain is still out. I definitely feel like I still need to regain some sense of control… It’s hard to let go and accept that so much is out of my hands.

"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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