‘The university cannot allow you to grieve indefinitely’ and other random thoughts

I have been kind of quiet on this blog lately–I often feel like there is not a whole lot that is new to say.  Or maybe I am just tired of it all.

I met with my official academic ‘mentor’-mentioned in previous posts because he was the interim chair.  We met because he told me he needed my annual plan.  My annual plan–which also includes a statement of what I did the past year and how close I came to my goals.  The response I thought in my head.  Fuck last year.  I did not meet any of my goals.  I was nauseated and then grieving.  I accomplished nothing.  Goals for this year. Get out of bed.  Take my emergency family leave and work on healing.  Seriously?!  Our real conversation had him saying that he wanted to be supportive, and that he thought that holding me accountable would keep me moving forward.  The university cannot allow you to grieve indefinitely, he explained.  Ummm….first of all, I know that.  Second of all, since when is 5.5 months, when I am still on emergency family leave, indefinite.  I have to give him something on Tuesday-objective me thinks it’s great to have goals, and I do want to slowly start doing more work.  I’ll technically be back full time in January when I start teaching again.  But emotionally, it is just symbolic of our society’s discomfort with grief.  Eli’s preschool teacher pulled me aside yesterday, and told me Eli had had a rough day, and kept saying that he missed me.  “Is something going on at home?” she asked.  Ummmm, well, yes, his brother is still dead, I wanted to say.  What does she mean is something going on at home?  Plus, I don’t think it’s all that unusual for a 3.5 year old to miss his mom.  I told her, well, we are still grieving, and also, my husband started his curling league twice a week, so Eli’s nighttime routine is a bit different.  She accepted that answer.   Watched.  Judged.

I started going to a six session yoga for grief workshop.  I like it.  We have been working on breathing.  It is an interesting mix of people, mostly widows, a few people who have lost parents, me and then two other women who also lost babies–although both lost a twin, one to SIDS and another to a stillbirth.  I like it as a space, and have been practicing my breathing when panic seeps in.  I even tried it during a faculty meeting but I had to be careful, since you breathe out of your mouth and it can be noisy.

We were invited for dinner at the home of another loss mom and her husband.  It was the first social event I went to in a long time where I didn’t have a horrible fear that someone would ask me lots of questions about children or my summer.  Even though not everyone there knew what happened to me, they care about their friend,  and I knew would be sensitive to her situation.  So that was really nice.  And she gave me a necklace with an E and an S on it, along with Sidney’s birthstone.  I was/am so unbelievably touched (Thanks, Steph, if you are reading this).  It is really nice to feel heard and understood.  img_20161015_19563850211

I also started volunteering at this afterschool program for children in the area affected by the uprising.  I have only been once, but I really enjoyed it, and the children seem to really need the extra attention and support.  I think I will also be helping my colleague organize a project with some middle schoolers in the city.  This is not my favorite age group–I am better with slightly younger kids–but we will see how it goes.  We are going to meet with them Monday morning and help brainstorm a project they can do about once or twice a month with us over the course of the year.  I am hoping they pick something related to poverty and vacant housing but we also want it to be something they are interested in.

I ran into the asshole OB today, although I don’t know if he saw me.  I had taken a walk with a friend and then we went out to lunch.  And then I noticed him sitting at the table next to me.  The same OB who last heard Sidney’s heart.  The same OB who asked me if I had bouts of periodic weepiness and did not bother to call me with the autopsy results.  Then another OB from the practice joined him.  I tried to avoid eye contact but being near them was too much, so we asked for the check and I ran away.  Being visible. And invisible at the same time.

Halloween and my birthday are coming.  I am not looking forward to either.  Last Halloween, I was in a bad mood.  I took Eli to a party and then trick or treating–my husband was out of town, and I felt so sick.  He came home from a week away later that night, and we were bickering.  But now I miss the morning sickness, which for me was all day sickness that was the worst at night.  And I miss the tiredness.  And most of all, I miss Sidney inside of me, and the hope.  Nov. 1 is my birthday.  I don’t want to celebrate it.  I don’t want to think about time going on, and getting older, and having a birthday without Sidney here.  And it falls on a Tuesday.  And Tuesdays just suck in general.

But I do appreciate the emails I occasionally still get from people checking in on me.  I am a little behind in replying, but know that being thought of really means a lot.

Oh, and did I mention that I am still sad, and anxious, and ashamed, and grieving, and scared–while also having occasional moments of laughter, feeling appreciative, or even mild contentment?

 

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6 thoughts on “‘The university cannot allow you to grieve indefinitely’ and other random thoughts

  1. I’ve been thinking of you! I totally know what you mean about not writing. Sometimes I’m like why bother? I still feel the same as I did yesterday, a month ago etc.

    And totally feel you on the goals at work thing. The first week back I had to document what I accomplished before Cora died and what my goals are for the next year. I thought maybe it’d be too much to say “to get pregnant and have the baby live” – like seriously, that is my only goal. I’m glad you are finding moments of laughter…it is so nice to feel ‘normal’, even if it’s just for a few moments. and I love the necklace your friend got you. It’s so beautiful ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know. Seriously. I’m actually meeting with the vice-provost Monday, and I might actually tell her that coming up with an academic plan is challenging, not only because of grief, but because having more living children is also essential to my life ‘plan’ so predicting when I am going to be able to travel to remote parts of Peru seems awfully difficult.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Neoliberal academia makes very little space to recognize and accommodate mother-work, much less the work of grieving the traumatic loss of a child. But aside from that, the discouraging and frustrating truth is that people who have never lost a child will simply never understand what you are going through. At the very least I am glad you are finding some solace in your yoga for grief workshop.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, and it seems hard for people to grasp that getting tenure might not be my number one priority. It wasn’t before Sidney died, and it definitely is not now. My mentor actually said to me early on, ‘you do whatever it takes in these six years.’ And I thought, absolutely not.

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  3. I meant to tell you with the necklace, why I picked an emerald colored stone.

    “The emerald is the sacred stone of the goddess Venus. It was thought to preserve love. The emerald has long been the symbol of hope. It is considered by many to be the stone of prophecy. For some the emerald acts as a tranquilizer for a troubled mind.”

    Sending love.

    Like

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