Thursday, September 27, 2012

A *Grief* Conference? Oh god.

As we get ready to travel down to Arizona for the MISS conference, I can’t help thinking, I’m not looking forward to this! I know I will be glad to be there and glad I went, but looking forward to? Nope! My mind rejects the idea of this conference, of attending it as a bereaved parent. I often still can't believe what has happened to our family. So this rejection of the conference, it's really a rejection of what we are going through. At the same time I’m curious about it and looking forward to being in a supportive environment where grief is the norm. It’s been hard to be in the “normal” world with grief. Hard, hard work. It always feels uncomfortable. I have changed since Toren’s death and I’m still figuring out how to be this new person. Friends are trying to figure out how to be with me as this new person. Some people can manage it, some can’t. Everyone is doing the best they can with a difficult situation. One person's "best" can seem not good enough. Being with other grieving people is easier right now. They might be complete strangers but you are in a moment together, no bullshit, no petty hang-ups, no stage-managing - just people having a real connection. I’m pretty sure it’s why we’re here, to make those connections. It’s incredibly empowering. I just don’t think anyone should have to die so we can have them.
The Still Life group is planning its own conference in July next year so this trip will also provide some ideas about what a conference in Vancouver could look like. Ideally, it would involve parents and the medical community coming together to discuss ways to support both those groups during and after a traumatic birth. One of the MISS conference posters says, "This is not about professional detachment." 

I told Pete there will be grief yoga available at 6am. He responded, "Six am?? I don't start grieving until 7." Ha!
The week before the conference in Phoenix will be holiday time. I'm particularly looking forward to the Desert Botanical Gardens. Desert....gardens??  That sounds magical to me. It’s not a “break” from the grief because that is always with us. But it’s more integrated than it was in the early months when we went to Hawaii so it should be a little easier to enjoy ourselves. 
Everything is changed. A conference is not just a conference, a holiday is not just a holiday. And gardens can be in a desert!

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