Monday, May 7, 2012

I Make No Claims to Emotional Health

There's a popular theory on how people grieve, known as the Kübler-Ross model or the Five Stages of Grief.  The five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.   I can feel myself slowly easing into the anger stage, which is appearing so far as irrational irritation at everything that moves, but I think it's fair to say I've been camped out at denial this week. Is it weird to have a favorite stage of grief? Probably, but mine might be denial.  It's just so much less angsty than the other stages.

Denial is the stage where we insist that we're fine or refuse to believe the loss is happening to us.  I freely admit I'm not fine and I am very aware that I have, in fact, lost another pregnancy, but I do still feel a considerable degree of shock and a desire to numb the pain.  Maybe because I've experienced this grief before and know what's coming, I find myself trying frantically to hold back the tidal wave of sadness and anger that I know will sweep over me eventually.  Denial has been manifesting itself in my life this week in two main ways.

  • Grief-Eating:  Todd and I are foodies, I admit it. During pregnancy, however, I'm usually a) sick and b) obsessive about not doing anything that might be dangerous to the tiny embryo.  Which means no caffeine, no lunch meat, no hot baths, no sushi or undercooked meat, no standing in front of the microwave (my mother, who gave birth to her children before the age of helicopter parenting even in the womb, thinks this list is crazy and assures me that I turned out fine even though she took hot baths every day and ate tuna salad (the horror!)).  So I confess that to cope with the loss I indulge in small condolences like Diet Coke for breakfast, dinner out every single day, and a glass of wine whenever I feel like it (remember, "hot tea").   This time, however, I'm giving myself a time limit for grief-eating.  My birthday "week" ends this coming Sunday, so that's my deadline.  A friend who is a health coach has offered to work with me to improve my health (and hopefully my fertility) nutritionally, so I better enjoy the toxic chemicals in Diet Coke while I can.  Grief-eat vicariously with me:
Margarita: Habanero-infused tequila,
strawberry, and lime
Goat nachos

Asparagus tacos with beet salsa
Burmese food is a new favorite.  This is Todd's lamb curry.

  • Grief-Nesting:  Is this a thing?  The obsessive need to clean and organize my home as a defense against grief is a new one for me (the obsessive need to clean and organize my home at all is a new one for me).  I just had to clean the bathroom almost as soon as I stopped crying Tuesday night. This weekend my beloved husband humored me when I insisted that we clean out the pantry and refrigerator, wash almost all of the clothes we own, and buy a new kitchen rug.  I can't decide if it's the busyness that's helpful to me or the sense of control over something in my life or a driving force to create some sense of beauty and order in my life or just me finally losing my mind.  Either way, this is surely a form of denial, right?  In what feels somewhat healthier, a friend gave me a beautiful hydrangea plant and told me that at this time in my life, it's important to plant something.  Taking her at her word, I spent some time this weekend transforming my little balcony into my own tiny Mediterranean oasis.  I planted some flowers and the best smelling herbs I could find, bought a lemon tree, and found a little blue ceramic bird that spoke to Todd and me the minute we saw it. I'm hopeful that I've created a space to grieve and heal and reflect.  Here's my handiwork (by the way, I know absolutely nothing about gardening.  If I've done this all wrong, please let me maintain my illusions that these plants are actually going to survive).

Basil, rosemary, and dill

My beautiful hydrangeas - thanks, Betty!

My precious little lemon tree

Blue bird
Doesn't that just look like a good spot to heal?

I'm trying something new this time.  I'm not going to feel guilty about how I feel.  For me, at least, miscarriage comes with a heaping pile of stinkin' guilt, shame, and feelings of being defective and broken.  I rebuke that nonsense!  And I rebuke any notions that there's a "right" way to grieve.  I'm going to try to be honest and let the feelings come as they will, but I'm not going to feel guilty if I need to be cleaning the bathtub instead of crying in my bed.  Grief is a process and I'm sure there will be time for both.


  1. That balcony looks like a perfect spot to enjoy a glass or few of "hot tea" and watch the sunset :-)

    There is no 'right' way to grieve. Everyone is wired differently.

    As a wise old sage told me once, "Baskin-Robbins had the right idea when they knew it would take 31 flavors, plus the flavor of the day to satisfy everyone." Choose your flavor of grief and go with it. Best part is that you can change flavors as often as you want! Some days are a Moose Tracks kind of grief and others are Gold Medal Ribbon.

    Our prayers are with you both. I won't say God is in control, since I am sure you have heard that a gazillion times already, but just know that you have armies of intercessors praying for just the right little ones to be in your lives at just the perfect moment!

    Love ya both!

  2. Sarah - that's exactly what I plan to use it for! Although now I may have to pick up some Baskin-Robbins too. Can't thank you enough for your prayers!

  3. Kim, I had no idea - thanks for sharing - now I know what to pray for! I've really enjoyed reading your blog so far. You're a great writer with lots of wisdom. I wish I lived closer so we could enjoy some hot tea together! Love you :)

    1. Thanks, Margo! I wish we lived closer too! Love you.