When we got to the MISS conference in Arizona, we were fortunate enough to meet "Dr Jo", as she's affectionately called, the woman who started the MISS Foundation because of her own experience losing a baby to stillbirth. I spoke with her briefly on the first morning and a lot of things came pouring out of my mouth - the people who have abandoned us at the worst time in our lives, and how many other families we have met going through the same thing. She probably gets that all the time! People wanting to share their stories with her in the first three minutes after saying Nice to meet you. She said, "We have a saying here - friends become strangers and strangers become friends."
Monday night, for the Global Wave of Light, we took photos of our candles and tweeted them out, posted them on facebook and blog, and sent them around by email. It was fun to share our candles with other families and see their candles. I'm new to twitter and have been surprised at how I've been able to connect and share with other people on the topic of grieving. I was on fb before Toren died but had to suspend my account afterwards because I just couldn't face any of it. I reactivated it on Mothers Day to solicit donations and raise awareness, then had to disable it again before my birthday hit. My birthday was one of the hardest days since he died and I knew I couldn't face any chirpy birthday messages. Nine months on, I feel like I have the fb thing sussed. I have it set up as a grieving tool. The only things I get in my news feed are posts by other bereaved people, or from the groups I have joined that deal with loss. Someone recently started a private group for Canadians whose babies have died (there is one for Americans - or from anywhere, really - that I also belong to). I communicate with women all over the country, sharing experiences, supporting each other and having a safe place to express fears, sadness, anger, doubt, love. All the dodgy emotions! All these things are outlets for my grief.
I do have a local network of bereaved parents whom I meet with whenever I can, and I also attend a support group every two weeks. When we are not together, we call, email and text each other, soliciting and offering support, venting, exchanging information, making plans or just larking around. It doesn't mean I don't sit alone with my grief when I feel the need. Trust me, I have plenty of that. But when something difficult comes up, I don't have to face it alone if I don't want to. And of course, there are our old friends who are sticking by us, however difficult that can sometimes be, logistically and emotionally. They continue to check in and be a support to our family. Sometimes I forget that because this grief can be all-consuming. When I am able, I try to let them know how grateful we are and how loved we feel.
Last weekend, I used my phone the old fashioned way to talk to another bereaved mom. She lives in Newfoundland. Her baby daughter died in August, and she posted a message on one of the online support forums asking if anyone wanted to talk. It's almost not possible for us to be further away from each other in this country! But once we figured out the time difference (three and a half hours, not so bad), we called each other and spoke for an hour and a half. Even though we were discussing a very sad subject, the deaths of our children, it was so wonderful to connect with another person going through the same thing. Someone who understands, someone who I can help by listening and who helped me by listening to my story. She has one of those cute Newfoundland accents so now I hear that when I read her online posts! There was nothing going on in her area for October 15 so I asked if I could include her baby's name on our memorial the day of our walk. Afterwards I took a photo of it and sent it to her.
I feel so much gratitude that, where ever I am, geographically, or on this grief path, I am not alone. That is what has made the biggest impact in coping with Toren's death. Distance means nothing, connection means everything.
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