When grief is too much

Today is a day of sorrow and self-pity, just because that’s the kind of day it’s been. The sun is shining, Husby and I are on good terms, yesterday was great fun and all is ostensibly well with the world…

But I am grieving (which is the only justification I can find for how I feel at the moment) and frankly, the world and all its loveliness can jump off a cliff. Even the sunshine and the colours outside seem to be rubbing salt into the wound as they flaunt themselves in front of the violent storms and darkness in my soul (which, if nothing else, goes to support the opinion that, for the English, the weather is never right).

Today is a day for words of pain and rage to spill out and be made whole and visible. Today is a day for putting names to my hurt in the hopes that in being able to identify it, I’ll be able to manage it more easily. Today is a day for you to click the red ‘X’ right now if you are having a good day and don’t want it marred by something which is probably going to turn out to be quite emotionally vampiric.

Today is not a day for ‘reasonable’ or ‘circumspect’.

I am hurting because of many things, most among them selfishness and the sense of injustice we get when our expectations are not met (even though we had no right to hold those expectations in the process). I can be frank enough about that. I am also hurting (and angry) because I am not able to accept that God’s will for my life is in any way ‘The Plan’ as I thought it should be (more disappointed expectations) and am feeling distinctly (though wrongly) Monkey Paw-ish about it (even though I know in my head that’s not at all how it works).

As a teenager, I always knew I wanted a family and after years of no boyfriends and no potential ‘significant other’ I prayed to God to provide me with one, and was able to leave it there and get on with my life. When I met Husby, I almost immediately felt a touch of destiny about him and was pleased (though not surprised) when we ended up married. Prayer answered (so I thought) but this was an answer with a sting in the tail (monkey paw?) as the husband I have been ‘given’ has spent most of our marriage battling a debilitating illness, which has put huge strain on our relationship, our finances and the manageability of everyday life.

Last year we decided (in spite of Husby being ill and tired) that the time was ripe to start trying for a family. Around the same time, the medics decided they’d found out the problem with Husby and could develop a treatment plan to help him. Brilliant – we’d been praying for this, for treatment, for good health to return. Yet another answer with a sting in the tail – the treatment he ultimately needs will render him irreversably infertile. So thought we’d better get on with it.

Then in November, the soaring, tantalising, exciting hopes of a brand new pregnancy and all the potential and expectations which goes with it, coupled shortly after with the devastating crash and burn of miscarriage, carrying most of it alone because Husby was still not treated and too ill to really engage with it at all. So we cried and hurt and told people and prayed, in fact we received so much prayer that we joked that the next baby would come out with wings and a halo.

Which s/he did, in March, when we lost our second child. The monkey paw must’ve been listening.

Struggling on, I tried to battle the time-frame which had been suggested – that in August, Husby would need to go onto the medicine which would make him infertile. There was no time to grieve as we were trying to conceive and at the same time, I didn’t want to try for fear of another miscarriage, and Husby rarely felt up to trying anyway, so our efforts waxed and waned. I prayed not to have another miscarriage…then after a check-up, we discovered Husby was already infertile, and somehow his body had performed a pre-emptive strike. More monkey paw.

Every time we’ve faced a struggle, we’ve stood as that rug has been pulled out from under our feet and have been knocked consistently lower each time. I am taking the advice of my friend and am not going to step back on the rug.

Husby’s endocrinologist has now discovered definitively how she can help him, so he’ll have more energy and be able to lead a normal life. In the meantime, she’s found a new treatment which can temporarily increase his fertility (perhaps). After that there’s fertility treatment (which at the moment we will get one shot at, the chances of success being low). After that we’re out of straws. And I know that even though I am not going to pin any hopes on any of the above being successful, once they’re finally all over and we’ve no more fertility treatments and Husby’s on his end-of-the-line medicine, it’s going to be worse. Whatever patch of rug we’ll have been trying not to stand on will finally and irretrievably be yanked from under us and we will topple into a chasm called ‘Can’t Have Children’.

That chasm is a dark place. There are people who inhabit it who are bitter and ever-grieving. I doubt there is anyone there who wouldn’t have had their own children if they could’ve. There are people there who have spent and lost time, energy, money (and even relationships) in their effort to do something which is absolutely natural; a fundamental biological function of being human, and which (for whatever reason) they cannot do.

It is unnatural. It is unfair. And it rankles.

And it angers when people who have no idea about it (why should they know or understand? This isn’t their world) offer advice “Maybe you should just relax – my friend/sister/whoever was trying to conceive for ages, then they gave up and almost immediately got pregnant“, silver linings “Well you should consider yourself lucky – I haven’t had a lie-in in years. And you get to do exactly as you want all day without demands being made of you. Wanna swap?” or platitudes “We don’t often get to know or understand God’s plan for us, but it is the right one – sometimes we only see it afterwards

And then there’s the pity face.


The pity face makes me want to break things. When you meet me and hear my story, by all means side with me “That sucks, you’ve had to deal with a lot.“, offer (well chosen) words of support “I know someone who couldn’t have children, and they found it really hard, but they’ve adopted and have a lovely family now.” or encouragement “Just take it one day at a time and don’t expect too much of yourself at the moment.“, but if you give me the pity face, given how rapidly my ability to cope and my resolve are crumbling at the moment, I might just haul off and punch you in the snoot.

You may well pity me, but internalise it, okay? Also, I know you feel bad for me, but there’s nothing you can do to help. Really. Nothing you can do will fix this (though sometimes I might take you up on something which will provide a shiny distraction) and nothing you can do can make it better. I wish more than you will ever know, that there was something you could do. Truly.

If you know me in real life, be patient with me.

I know there are worse problems out there in the big, bad world, which are faced by ordinary, wonderful people undeserving of such horror, but at the moment, what makes this one so much worse is that it’s mine.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Ten (pretty bloody valiant) Things of Thankful

1. My family, who are a constant source of love, support and have an ever-extended shoulder to cry on.

2. Ditto Husby.

3. My fertile friends and their children, whose joy and abundance I get a small part of, a short time of vicarious living, and a bittersweet reminder of what I’m missing.

4. My infertile friends, who understand exactly what this is like.

5. The warmth of the day (because even if the sunshine and colours are pissing me off, at least I’m not cold)

6. I have my health.

7. I have my health.

8. I have my health.

9. Many prayers and well-wishes from many corners of the world. I’m sure they have helped (somehow) and will continue to (somehow) – I just believe it with a part of me that can’t quite believe it right now.

10. There’s always alcohol…

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8 thoughts on “When grief is too much

  1. Ever my pleasure! I think you and Husby will work through it and find some happiness.

    And you bet! For all the challenges, there are wonderful, happy, fun moments. He's smart and funny. He's OCD, so he rearranges anything that isn't nailed down (my books, the pantry, etc – behind my back). And he teaches me patience. πŸ™‚

    May you have a beautiful and blessed day.

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  2. Thank you for your kind words Terrye. I shall try to brush less under the carpet in future and be less 'bottled up'. Hopefully this is the start of some decent honesty for Husby and I.

    Thanks for sharing your story, too. It's so sad to hear about your little boy and the challenges he faces. I only hope that there are some really good times as well to balance it all out. Bless you x

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  3. Everything that you are feeling is completely normal. To brush them aside and not work through them is not healthy or encouraged. Rant the good rant. Cry. Break things. It's part of the 'healing process.'

    Hubby and I had a miscarriage the first time we tried. It was devastating. A year later, we had our little guy. That brought a whole new set of heartbreaks that we're still working through (he's developmentally delayed, non-verbal autistic). He's now 6 1/2 and it's been a challenge every single day. I still grieve. For the baby we'll never know. And for our little guy that may always need someone to feed and dress him. For never knowing what he's thinking or feeling even when he's sitting on my lap while I read a story to him. It breaks my heart every day.

    I hope that this bad patch of road that you're on eventually becomes a smoother path. Know that there are people thinking of you and hoping & praying that all the good things in life that you and your husband deserve finally make it to your doorstep.

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  4. Your feelings aren't less painful or less real just because other people “have it worse”. You have a reason to be sad. Very sad. And angry.
    I'm glad you're keeping up with the thankful list, even on days like today.

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  5. We have an innate sense of justice and fairness (as we should, and as is useful in everyday life) but we extrapolate too far and think things *should* go our way, when in fact they are often against us. Either we can grapple with it and try to change things (which, as the couple in the story found, often makes things worse) or we can learn to accept it and enjoy the things in life which do go right (as I am currently experimenting with).

    While there may be no 'magic', trying to come to terms with pain in this world will always be a struggle and people will always try to get around it.

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  6. I am further taken with you and your blog, (it) being the only one (in my admittedly microscopic view of the immense blogosphere) to grasp and (take into account) the Monkey's Paw effect, as referenced in today's Post.*

    I admire your strength (and reinforce the value in) continuing your '10 things to be grateful for'… sometimes there are things that are good for us to do, despite how much we don't like doing them. This gratitude thing is one of those… the act of doing it, not the emotion felt while doing it, is what invokes/produces the benefit.

    good work, yo

    must have been around 7 when I first read the story (Monkey's Paw) and even at that age, I couldn't help thinking, 'if there is no such thing as magic why are there so many stories where the morale is to stay away from it… '

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