Saturday, September 27, 2008

Good Grief... Bad Grief...

Hi all,

Guys are typically more stoic than their female counterparts. We all know this. We expect it sometimes... but there are other times when grief bursts forth like a raging torrent - consuming all in it's path. Maybe that's a bit dramatic, but in many ways it can adequately sum up how it feels when it happens.

I guess there have been a couple of things to deal with in this Oddyssey of mine when it comes to grief... How do I do it? Why is it that there are times when I seem to need to grieve but it feels so inappropriate? 

I've recently been musing to myself, and a few close friends, about this and phrased it like this..."How do you grieve for something that has never been?". We all instinctively know how to grieve for a loved one that dies for instance, but I would argue that this is no different. Granted I have never known the children that we've never had, but the emptiness remains... If someone dies then we hold a funeral, and the grieving process is expected and encouraged, but this grief goes unnoticed by many - those that know can appreciate that there are times when those of us struggling for infertility just want times to ourselves, but I've found that it's only really those who have been there who are truly able to identify with this hidden grief. 

I recently had one of my staff at work approach me because the father of one of her friends had died, and she wanted to travel out of town to be there for her friend at the funeral. I had no problem with allowing this, but it got me thinking - since our first failed IVF treatment I haven't taken a day off specifically for the purpose of dealing with that grief. Should I have? I don't know. 

Sure guys deal with grief differently - in some ways I don't think we deal with grief very well at all. For some of us it's simply a matter of survival - it is by no means because we don't care! I hope that I have been supportive enough of Sarah during this process - but there are times when the grief inside is like that raging torrent I mentioned earlier. As guys we need to find a safe outlet for that, because there are many way in which we could unleash it which would be disastrous

Personally there are times when all I want to do is sit back and cry. Sob my expressions of grief and longing to God. Because only he can TRULY understand what I'm personally going through. There are other times when to be honest I think I'm just down right clinically depressed. But God has been faithful and I know that during the roughest storm of grief God has always been the light of steadfastness which has seen me through. Some may consider that a crutch - to be honest with you, that's fine with me. I need to make it through this and I think he's the only way I am going to make it. We all have to have a foundational statement on which to base all of our other beliefs - for some it's scientific method, for others it's God. Personally I think when testing the theories and theologies of the supernatural - scientific method comes gravely short of being able to qualify or quantify that realm. 

How do I deal with grief? I think I internalise a lot of it. I think a lot. A lot of what goes on in my head is much more emotional than can be put into words or expressed in the usual sense. But I think that this blog and other journaling I've done has been useful as an outlet for that raging sea - so that it's less likely to spew forth and consume anything and everything in it's way.

Of course I'd be interested in reading how any other guys have/are/plan to deal with this type of grief process. And I also think it's useful to have female input on this to because you gals have got this thing so much more sorted out than any of us guys so don't be shy to comment or point out other blogs were this is dealt with.



J said...

I think there are 2 wrong ways to go with grief:

The first is to ignore it. It will not go away, and can end up popping up somewhere else. Depression, drink, anger etc.

The second is to embrace it. To hug it like a friend and let it take over your life.

The middle road is to acknowledge it without it taking over. It is hard to do, but I think you are doing the right thing. Blogging and praying!

God does have a plan for you, which may or may not involve having children. I would advise you to look for where God is calling you in your life, and to put your energies into that. Don't live your life on hold. God has a purpose for you that you need to persue.

I know that grieving something you never had is very hard. There is no focus to grieve on. But that grief will never stop if you embrace it, it will only get worse. I allowed my infertility to overwhelm me, and it wasn't good. I know others who are in worse situations than me, and they are full of faith for their future, regardless of whether thay have kids or not.

Do I wish I had been like them? I guess so. Maybe God gave me a child because I couldn't cope without one, where my friends could cope without one. I'm not sure about that, because you could end up holding on to a hope that might not be in God's plan for you, and believing that it will happen because you want it so much.

Anyway - I am starting to ramble. The only consolation I can offer is that I am praying for you.


p.s. have you told Stirrup Queens about your blog? They should stick it up on thier list if you want them to.

Abe said...

Thanks J,

Yes, I have registered with the Stirrup queen, its great that there is such a comprehensive list of IF blogs out there!

I guess that like many differnet type of grief, the grief of infertility is one of those "middle ground is healthiest" griefs. I always find though that when I'm at my lowest is because I've lost the plot prayer wise either through being distracted or busy or what ever. Being real with God is what keeps me in the middle ground. Internalising it leads to other problems sooner or later as you say.

Thanks again,

Searching for Serenity said...

Thank you for your note, Abe. I think I have a lot to learn from you and your perspective. Your blogging seems to be a very healthy outlet for the things on your mind. I hope it is bringing you peace.

Although my writing isn't nearly as eloquent as yours, the words you express describe many thoughts and feelings I've experienced. Thank you for sharing them.

J has offered you some great advice. In addition, I've tried to set boundaries for myself. I've learned to avoid triggers that cause me pain and grief. Instead I try to focus on the things that make me happy and grateful.

The Petersons said...

This entry reminded me of a quote I recently read:

"The problem with infertility is that I am mourning children that do not exist and I'm the only one who misses them." -Unknown

Aside from that, I think it is important for you to process your grief as it comes up. As a woman, I don't understand the ways that men deal with their feelings. Most of the time, they don't even acknowledge most of them. But I do know that while infertility may be affecting them differently, it still affects them.

When my husband finally opened up to me, he admitted feeling like the cause of our infertility may be his fault. Once I heard that, I realized that he probably chooses not to think about the issue as much as I do because of the guilt associated with it (although we are still in the process of trying to figure out the true cause of it all). I think it's good for you to be aware of how it makes you feel and the reasons behind that. Thank you for sharing this with us.