Monday, 7 April 2008

Lost for words

Out here in the blogosphere, all we have is words. And yet there are times when that doesn't seem nearly enough.

At the weekend, Mr H came into my study and found me in tears. What was wrong, he asked. I explained that I had just found out that Luna had received a negative from her final cycle. Luna has been through so much over the past six years, she has been so generous in her support of others in the blogosphere, and this FET was her last chance for a baby. I had been hoping and willing with every ounce of my being that this cycle would work for her. Mr H could not understand why I was so upset. 'But you've never even met this woman,' he reminded me, gently. 'You live on opposite sides of the Atlantic. You very probably don't even know each other's real names.'

Mr H is, of course, right. I have never met Luna, or indeed any of my other blogging friends. And yet I feel a deep connection with you. In many cases, we have shared interests that extend beyond the common thread of infertility - we would, I like to imagine, get on well if we were to meet in Real Life.

You have all been a tremendous source of support to me over the past few months - not only through your kind comments here, but through your own posts. I have in particular learnt a great deal from Luna's wise and astute writing. And this is why, at this particular moment, I feel so powerless. I can find no words of comfort to offer her.

It strikes me that society in general isn't particularly comfortable with grief. Mourning is seen as something that should be hurried through as quickly as possible - 'coming to terms' and 'moving on' are seen as the ultimate goals for the recently bereaved.

And yet in our little community, it seems that grief is always just around the corner. And so perhaps all any of us can do is to acknowledge each individual loss, and to sit and mourn quietly with those whose hopes and dreams are not now going to come to fruition. Phrases like 'I'm sorry' and 'I'm thinking of you' may not seem much, but out here in the blogosphere, all we have is words.


shinejil said...

Your post makes me think of the lament tradition in E. Europe, songs that were both cathartic and protective... You do some of the weeping for someone else (you can't weep and sing, really) and protect your hearts from being crushed by grief. We've lost that channel, that way to mourn, and there's nothing meaningful to replace it. Perhaps that's one reason why grief gets shoved to the back of the emotional closet and treated like a communicable disease.

I wish there were an IF lament I could sing for my internet friends.

annacyclopedia said...

This post makes me think of something completely different. Although I completely agree with Shinejil that we have really lost something in our culture by not embracing mourning or even allowing it to happen, and I love the idea of having a lament to sing to each other. This post reminds me of the instruction that is at the core of my meditation practice, which is simply to pay attention to what is. To not turn away from or push away what we experience as negative, but to allow it to be there, sometimes even turning towards it consciously as a means of changing our habits. And by doing this - to allow anger, and grief, and emptiness, and everything else to come into our hearts, we are awakened to compassion and we are transformed.

Ms. H, you are right that our words feel inadequate. But when I am faced in my real life with someone who is grieving, everything I do feels inadequate. I can weep with them, I can listen, I can use touch, I can do practical support like cooking meals. But to me, that feeling of inadequacy stems from that feeling of discomfort with grief - I want to make it better. I think for anyone raised in a culture where mourning is not really allowed will probably always feel that way. But what we say when we leave a comment, even as brief as "I'm thinking of you" or "I'm so sorry" - to me, the intention behind these words is so enormous and powerful.

For me, having a community where we are all free to grieve for all the myriad losses we have collectively and individually experienced has been a form of spiritual practice in a way. Sometimes it is scary, sometimes I really don't want to hear about how much suffering others have gone through. But when I can read your stories, honour your experience in all its strength and all its fragility, my heart changes a little, and greater gentleness is awakened in me. My experience is that, whether they would see it the same way or not, the others I've met in this little corner of the blogosphere have all been transformed in the same way. There is a greater comfort with grief and mourning than I've found anywhere else in my life.

Thanks for this great post. It feels really good to know that you feel the same connection as I do to this community.

luna said...

ms. H, just know I am sitting here crying reading your words...

no, words can't change the situation, but they and the feelings behind their conveyance are often all we have to give. in truth I've received more comfort through blog comments than I have in real life. so thank you for your words, and especially for the feeling and intent behind them. (it took a long time for my husband to realize the kinship of my virtual circle of friends may be even stronger than any circle "in real life.")

I like shinejil's comment about our loss of mourning rituals. and annacyclopedia is so right about the way our hearts open to the suffering of those around us, in this community.

a mere thank you from across the atlantic cannot possibly convey how much your words and support have meant to me, but thanks again from my heart.

s.e. said...

I read this at work and cried right at my desk. You wrote what I think so elioquently. Thank you for putting this out there because some days all I need are the words.

jp said...

What you wrote was so beautiful, and so true.
I realized I have been so guarded and cautious these days, keeping myself as safe as possible.
It is difficult to read of someone else's terrible losses.
You are so brave to feel so much.

Dagny said...

Beautiful words. And so very true.

i know if I was in a room with all my infertile sisters that we would all get along like we had known each other for our whole lives. Seems that way sometimes, and for sure, all of you are the only ones that really understand.

Thanks for posting that.

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

"that feeling of inadequacy stems from that feeling of discomfort with grief - I want to make it better. I think for anyone raised in a culture where mourning is not really allowed will probably always feel that way. But what we say when we leave a comment, even as brief as "I'm thinking of you" or "I'm so sorry" - to me, the intention behind these words is so enormous and powerful."

What everyone hear has said - including you Ms Heathen - and then some more. Most of the time all we have are words, so they're all we can use. But when our intentions are truthful and supportive they can be the best thing available.

Love to all of you, you're regularly in my thoughts.

Malloryn said...

Thank you for posting this. I'm sitting here at the office trying not to cry.

I've learned so much during my relatively brief time in the IF blogosphere. One of the most important things is not backing off in the face of someone else's grief. I also feel like words can seem inadequate at times, and yet they can be a source of great comfort to the recipient. In years past I would try to hide my grief and tended to be awkward when people expressed theirs.

I think I would feel a quick connection if I were to meet one of my fellow infertile sisters. There's a different kind of understanding there that you just don't feel outside of this circle.

luna said...

just so you know, I sent your post to my husband, and he emailed me right back saying he was "holding back the tears" before his next client came in... thanks again.

s.e. said...

Don't worry it was a healthy cry. A good reflection!

the Babychaser: said...

I'm so glad you wrote about Luna. Her grief seems to be reaching out across the blogosphere, and I know it's hit a lot of us really hard. I've been thinking about her every day, and I find it comforting to know that others are as well.

My blog-friends have been my salvation these past few months. I think part of it is BECAUSE we don't see each other, don't work with each other, can't lay any burdens on each other. I never have to worry that you've heard me say it before, or that I'm sounding totally insane, or that my sorrow will bring you down. Hell, if you don't want to hear it, you can just stop reading.

My IRL friends never really know how down I am. Even if I tell them "I'm having a really hard time," I still spend my lunch hour laughing and joking with them. It's not like they never see me cry. But they never see me sit and stare into space like a dead person. Or berate myself. Or do anything that would make them too uncomfortable.

In blog-land, there's no need for a brave face. So even when you're at a loss for words, those words can carry so much power.