The new friends have turned out to be like a raft in a stormy sea. We listen to each other, we cry, we laugh, we rage, and we offer each other our own perspectives on a very confusing experience. It took me a long time to feel able to go to a support group. I was terrified of the idea of it, of speaking about my experience in front of strangers. A woman I was acquainted with told me, "Don't take on other people's shit. There are a lot of sad stories out there. Don't let them drag you down." At the time, I thought she was right. My fear used it as an excuse to put some boundaries on the idea of going to a support group. I would attend, for a short while, but I wouldn't get involved with the people there. I realize now that person didn't have a clue what she was talking about and shouldn't have presumed to try to influence my coping choices with her fear and ignorance. She has not lost a child (thankfully) and has never had to try to find comfort in community and a shared experience. It's a club no one wants to join but I'm so grateful to have found these friends. No one should ever have to go through a difficult life-changing experience alone. Fuck boundaries. I'm not afraid of people's grief, of tears, of sad stories. I want to take on other people's shit. It doesn't drag me down. It makes me feel less alone.
At the MISS Conference, I attended a presentation by a psychiatrist in his 70s who doesn't believe in drugs (!). He is not a grieving parent but he met us where we're at by sharing a personal story from his childhood. He talked about losing the person he most cherished in the world when he was a small child. I cried as he told his story. I thought about this vulnerable little boy, the same age as our daughter is now, and how she would feel if we suddenly disappeared with no explanation. We might die, yes, but she will be loved and supported through that. When he grew up he trained as a psychiatrist. After decades treating patients in all kinds of circumstances, he has come to this conclusion: "The only thing we have to offer each other is each other."
Today Toren's Aunt sent me this song by Pink which had me in tears. It expresses beautifully how I feel about him.