Should I let it go? Extended family, grief, isolation - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 11-18-2010, 08:42 AM - Thread Starter
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I have a tendency to be long winded, but I'm going to try and keep this short and to the point. I hope I'm posting in the right area.

 

At the end of August, my son was stillborn. A week before he was born, I had a baby shower with all of my extended family present. He died, and I haven't heard a peep from anyone since.

 

Geographically, they all live within 20 miles of me, some a lot closer.

 

No one sent a card, no one sent flowers, no one called, e-mailed or brought food. This is the South. The Deep South. When someone dies, you bring food. I have known this to be fact my entire life. I never felt compelled to take food myself until I moved out of my parents house at age 17 and considered myself an adult. Since then, when someone dies, I take food. Its just what you do.

 

(ETA: I did receive cards, flowers and phone calls, but it was all from people I know exclusively over the internet. Strangers, basically, were the only people there for me when I needed it most.)

 

Thanksgiving is approaching, and my aunt called my dad last week to know if we would be attending. She told him to extend the invitation to me, my partner and my son. So, still no personal phone call from anyone. FTR, My extended family that lives locally consists of 3 aunts and their spouses and 4 adult cousins and their spouses, plus lots and lots of little ones.

 

My mother (this is my dad's family, her's lives a few states away) knows how much it hurt me that no one acknowledged the death of my son. She told my dad that there was no way she could convince me to go, and she explained why.

 

He is mad at me, because he thinks I'm being unreasonable. He thinks that I should just "suck it up" and go for my son's sake, so that he will have the opportunity to play with his cousins and be around his family.

 

I have stopped considering these people my family at all. I declared, after a month went by with no contact what so ever, that I was no longer a member of this family and I would no longer participate.

 

I have not only been grieving the death of my son for the past 2.5 months, but I have been grieving the realization that I don't really have any family. I feel betrayed and abandoned. I don't understand how they can all come together to celebrate my son's existence and his imminent arrival, and then a week later act as if he never existed and not even pick up the phone.

 

My dad has been mad at me for several days because I am unwavering in my decision not to go. My mom has been on my side, so to speak, until today. Now, today, she thinks I need to just let it go. This is why:

 

My mama called my aunt and told her that we would not be attending. Aunt wanted to know why, so my mama told her that it was because I was mad that no one called. Aunt says she was told by a cousin that I didn't want any phone calls or contact. This is absolutely not true. I never even spoke to this cousin. I don't know where this mis-communication came from. Aunt started crying, said she felt terrible, and that she thinks about me daily, but didn't contact because she was told not to. STILL, though, she has not called me. Knowing that I am hurt and feel abandoned, she still hasn't called me.

 

I cannot fathom going to this big family gathering and looking these people in the eye. They are going to look at me with pity and fear, because everyone (that isn't on MDC, pretty much) is terrified of dead baby mamas. They aren't going to talk about "it", "it" won't be mentioned, because that's the way I have discovered this dead baby thing to work. People are scared of you. Its really very awkward.

 

Even if this was all a big misunderstanding thanks to a cousin assuming I wanted to be left alone, I still feel hurt and abandoned by my family. I have felt this way for almost three months, and I am not sure what I can do to change how I feel or let it go. I'm not even sure if I want to.

 

I would really like some feedback on this. I feel that I have something to gain by hearing others perspectives. I think I am still too wrapped up in my own grief to really look at this rationally.


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#2 of 17 Old 11-18-2010, 09:02 AM
 
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I'm so sorry Mama.  That's awful.  I really don't have any advice, but I just wanted to say that I think it's horrible nobody contacted you, and I wouldn't go either.  I can't even begin to imagine why they wouldn't at least send a card.  I hope someone else can offer you some advice.

 

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#3 of 17 Old 11-18-2010, 09:05 AM
 
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Even if this was all a big misunderstanding thanks to a cousin assuming I wanted to be left alone, I still feel hurt and abandoned by my family. I have felt this way for almost three months, and I am not sure what I can do to change how I feel or let it go. I'm not even sure if I want to.

 

That's awful. My experience isn't the same as losing a baby, but I had a sort of similar experience. I had ovarian cancer two years ago. I was completely freaked out. No one - NO ONE - in my family called me to make sure I was okay. My mom told me that I was making it up and when it turned out to be Stage 1a (no chemo necessary), she told me that I had been a baby. I stopped talking to her.  She died in March and I still wasn't talking to her and I'm not sorry about it.

 

My husband was less than supportive, too. He was completely freaked out and  refused to talk about it. Nothing changed at home. I was still doing as much of the parenting and working and everything even though I was pretty sick for a couple of months. I was also trying to get my finances and make a plan in case the cancer was more serious. I felt unsupported and exhausted. It took me more than a year to get over it with him. We had many arguments about it. I talked about divorce. He said he would do better the next time I had a serious illness. I finally let it go and it's okay.

 

Whatever you decide, give yourself time. You've had a terrible loss. It takes time to get over it.  People don't have the right to tell you when and how to get over it. If you don't feel like Thanksgiving, don't go. 

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#4 of 17 Old 11-18-2010, 09:14 AM
 
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Oh, man, I'd tell your mom what you just told us - despite now KNOWING you are upset and that you feel unsupported, STILL no one has called. 

 

I wouldn't go.

 

((hugs))


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#5 of 17 Old 11-18-2010, 11:18 AM
 
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I wouldn't go, either.

 

My extended family mostly didn't know about my first lost baby (and I don't think they know about either of the other two), but even after they found out there wasn't much support. And basically after a few weeks, my close family stopped talking about it, either. No one wants to acknowledge it. I don't know if they think it's to spare me or what. But I WANT people to acknowledge that I am missing three children! So I totally get it.

 

And your baby was much farther along than any of mine. Even if it was a miscommunication, that has been resolved, so they need to get over themselves and reach out. Maybe you can send your DS with your parents. Then he can play with his cousins and you can have some free time. Or would that make you lonely? (Personally I'd love it but fully realize I'm a little more independent/a loner than others.)


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#6 of 17 Old 11-18-2010, 10:44 PM
 
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I am so sorry, Mama.  I never wanted to join the dead baby club...but here we are.

 

My dead baby was second trimester, and I knew he was gone before his birth, so not quite like yours.  It was a rough ride.  I nearly lost my mind.  Then a year later when I was 8mos pregnant, I attended the birth of my bff's dead baby.  That was 3.5 years ago.  That's where I'm coming from.

 

I know the pariah factor.  And the stupid things people say...(my dad said "don't you think you were being a little greedy?  You all ready have two perfect kids.")  And how they don't say anything.  No one in my family acknowledged my loss.  A couple of friends brought me food.  No one from my family even called.

 

For the longest time, my attitude was, uh, I would need an expletive to describe it.  I was really angry.  I went to family gatherings where no one made eye contact.  I cried all the way home.  I skipped other family gatherings.  They criticized me.  I didn't care.  The only way past grief is through it...or however that stupid platitude goes.

 

And then something changed.  Once the fog cleared, I realized that the bell had been rung and could not be unrung.  The dead babies had shown me a new way of seeing the world.  I won't say I like it...but it's mine, and I accept it.  I still sometimes feel like it is the most enormous of injustices that I don't have a mother or grandmother to turn to--someone to pull me in to their arms and cry with me...but I don't.  I like to think my granny would have been able to do it for me, but she passed 15 years ago.  It turns out that now I'm that person for my family. 

 

You said you wanted feedback...I don't know what to say about that...I know it took me a long, long time to feel like I was close to rational again. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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#7 of 17 Old 11-19-2010, 07:45 AM
 
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I am so very sorry.

 

In my opinion, if your mother would like to be involved and would like to improve the situation, then perhaps she should extend her energy towards contacting the rest of the family and encouraging them to reach out to you -- if that's what you decide would still help.  People need to make an effort in your behalf, not lay a burden on you to meet on their terms.

 

 

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#8 of 17 Old 11-19-2010, 03:27 PM
 
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i would not go either. ((hugs))

i have had some similar issues with not only family but friends. and my thought is this, if you can not acknowledge what has happened to me and my child, you can not be part of my life. thinking about these people causes me too much stress, and now that i am painfully aware of how short life is, i can not imagine using an ounce of my short life on this earth to worry about selfish people.

so sorry you have to deal with this.

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#9 of 17 Old 11-19-2010, 03:53 PM
 
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Mama, I am so sorry for everything you have gone through, your child's death and the sense of abandonment.

 

I do also know from many situations that tragedies can make people stupid, like deer-in-headlights frozen. Of course, it should have been so obvious that it would almost always be welcome to send a card (at the very least!) to say, I'm here for you, I"m so sorry, etc)... It sounds like the family thought they were respecting your wishes. It seems dumb, but people do get frozen into inaction when situations are different from what they are used to.

 

I wouldn't say you should 'let it go,' as in, pretend you weren't devastated and hurt by the family's terrible lack of response. But your story makes me think of why, when there is a death in the family, people do follow stock scripts - bring food on day 1 or 2, go to funeral on day 4, (or whatever). I think the obligatory act of showing up at the funeral is important for people to make that initital contact to the family of the lost loved one. It makes me wish for you that all of them had had some event to attend for you in which to connect with you and see what you needed/wanted by talking to and hearing from you themselves. Maybe you didn't have a memorial service or similar by your own choice, and I don't mean to imply you "should have" if it wasn't what you needed. But I was just thinking that this is probably why we have these little rituals as a society, to bring people right together when the death first happens.

 

For Thanksgiving, I agree with others, do what most feels right to you, if that means not trying to face all of them. But could there be a way to come together soon with some of them? It does seem like a big loss to not have this family anymore if some of them (according to your aunt) do care for you very much.

 


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#10 of 17 Old 11-19-2010, 07:07 PM
 
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I'm really so sorry.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mamabutterfly View Post

I do also know from many situations that tragedies can make people stupid, like deer-in-headlights frozen.

 



I agree with this.  When I lost my baby, nobody said a word leading me to believe that some people in my close family (ex: brother, sister-in-law, DAD) didn't know.  I thought perhaps my mom hadn't said anything (it was an early but very upsetting loss).  When I confided in a few people, I was shocked to find out that they did know.  Maybe people really don't have a clue what to say so they just avoid avoid avoid.  Stupid and hurtful, but it seems to be a common reaction.  Or maybe they think if they say something it will cause more pain.  But a simple hug (or even a card in your case) is all it takes to show they care.  I don't get it.   HUGS

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#11 of 17 Old 11-20-2010, 08:38 AM
 
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People act stupid all the time, and most especially around death and stillbirth.  What happened in your family after your son's death was very sad, and perhaps a miscommunication, and definitely their behavior is on them.  BUT, and here's the "but": hanging onto resentment is like drinking poison hoping the other person will  die.  It doesn't work and you only hurt yourself.  You sound very hurt.  You said you don't know if you want to let go of it.  Maybe you are not ready to let go of it. But I bet that some day soon (maybe now b/c you are posting here about it), you will be tired of being hurt and angry, and then maybe you can consider letting go of it.  You can always just talk to them directly: "I was very hurt that no one called or brought food when my baby died, and I am still sad.  I need my family to be there for me now.  Can you do [whatever would be helpful to you right now] for me?"  People cannot give you what you need unless they know what it is, and stillbirths happen rarely enough that people do not know what to do.  Obviously b/c of your aunt's reaction, they do love you and feel for you, but they are likely scared and don't know what to do.  Meet them halfway and tell them what you want.  Then you can judge (fairly) who you want to keep in your life based on their reactions.

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#12 of 17 Old 11-20-2010, 08:57 AM
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Big hugs to you Mama.

 

My first instinct is to want to just wrap you up in a big blanket of warmth and love and tell you to just walk away.

 

But on reflection, I feel that it is important to share with others how they are making you feel. I know this burden should not fall on you, when you have so much emotion that you are coping with right now. But the reality is, people do not always do the right thing. And some people really do need things spelled out for them. They need and want to love you and help you, but they have no idea how to start and worse how to ask you how to start. Then, they panic the longer they leave it.

 

So I would go. And I would call the family members first, or perhaps write them an email. And explain how their actions have made you feel and what actions you would love to receive from them. Tell them that you are not sharing your feelings to berate them, or make them change, but simply to explain how you feel. you can not make them change, but you can show them how you feel and give them pointers in how to be more supportive and involved.

 

I realise this is not ideal. i know you wish they just "knew". But they dont and you cant control that. But you can control what you share.

 

After you explain your feelings and perhaps invite them to respond, you will then see who really wants to stand by you, but just had no idea how to. Anyone else who does not step up, you can walk away from.

 

I hope you find the path to peacefulness in which ever way you need to. But from your post, it sounded like even if you do not go, you will still be upset. So I say go ahead and work with it one last time. There may well be family there just desperately wanting to reach out and grateful that you had the strength and wisdom to show them how.

 

Much love to you and Henry...and remembering Jack.

 

 

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#13 of 17 Old 11-20-2010, 08:55 PM
 
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i'm so sorry you're going through this. It sucks big time to feel a lack of support from family. I came across a great website with suggestions for others to be supportive. Perhaps you can share your feelings with your family and give them some of these suggestions. If it's distance you need, take it.

 

http://www.miscarriagesupport.org.nz/helping.html


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#14 of 17 Old 11-21-2010, 10:56 PM
 
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hug.gif  I'm sorry for the loss.  I've been there (stillbirth at 37 weeks) and it's hard.  So very hard.......  To add in family problems and I can't imagine what you are dealing with.

 

I would not go if I were you.  But really, you are the only one who can answer that.  Meditate on it and TRUST yourself.  Even if you think the answer isn't rational or you don't like it, TRUST.  Love and honor yourself first and do what would make YOU feel best, not others. 

 

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#15 of 17 Old 11-22-2010, 04:24 PM
 
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Quote:

Quote:
Originally Posted by mamabutterfly View Post

I do also know from many situations that tragedies can make people stupid, like deer-in-headlights frozen.

 



I agree with this.  When I lost my baby, nobody said a word leading me to believe that some people in my close family (ex: brother, sister-in-law, DAD) didn't know.  I thought perhaps my mom hadn't said anything (it was an early but very upsetting loss).  When I confided in a few people, I was shocked to find out that they did know.  Maybe people really don't have a clue what to say so they just avoid avoid avoid.  Stupid and hurtful, but it seems to be a common reaction.  Or maybe they think if they say something it will cause more pain.  But a simple hug (or even a card in your case) is all it takes to show they care.  I don't get it.   HUGS


Same here. My first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage RIGHT before Christmas. My husband called my parents and his parents and let them know. I know they had both already bought baby things and maternity things. It was like I had never been pregnant. There was never another word about it even though everyone had been so excited and it was all we'd been talking about. I think they just didn't know what to say or do. To play the Devil's Advocate here I'll mention that honestly, I personally preferred it that way. But that's how I am. I didn't need to keep reliving the pain every time I got a card or hug or "how are you doing?" I'm not saying its healthy, that's just how I process things. Maybe your family is trying to be kind by keeping silent?

 

I'm so sorry for your loss and so sorry you aren't getting the support that you need.

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#16 of 17 Old 11-22-2010, 05:17 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by L J View Post

No one sent a card, no one sent flowers, no one called, e-mailed or brought food. This is the South. The Deep South. When someone dies, you bring food. I have known this to be fact my entire life. I never felt compelled to take food myself until I moved out of my parents house at age 17 and considered myself an adult. Since then, when someone dies, I take food. Its just what you do.

 

I know you're hurting, but this made me smile. It's so true. My family's from the Deep South as well, and yeah, the first thing you do after a death is ask about when and where to bring food.

 

As for Thanksgiving, I think you should do what you feel in your heart is best for *you* right now. After reading your aunt's explanation, I can understand it. If they thought you asked to be left alone, then they thought they were respecting your boundaries. I'd probably take it up with the cousin who started telling people that to find out what happened, but I wouldn't do that until I felt healed enough to have those conversations.


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#17 of 17 Old 01-18-2011, 03:26 AM
 
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So sorry to hear of your loss, unfortunately people can be unfeeling morans, even family. Some just dont know how to react to death, so they choose to do nothing, unfortunately this is selfish and the most hurtful. Your feelings must still be raw, and sometimes we feel the need to channel it to something else, its less painful i would imagine. I wouldnt let them off by not attending i think it would be worse for you, and they still get off scot free by not seeing the hurt. Your right they are not guenuine but maybe take the high ground if you can, and talk about your loss as much as you can, and then see how they deal with it, at least they cant ignore you if you are there. And the food thing its all the way here in Australia, they are killing traditition, no class about them, you were obviously taught this by your parents, just put this to your dad,when things calm a little im sure he will agree with you, but some people get defensive about families, so be prepared to let it drop, but we know whats right, so good luck.

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