Living With Grief

Rain on the Parade

Sayings (noun): Short, pithy, commonly known expressions which generally offer advice or wisdom

i) Misery loves company: People who are unhappy may get some consolation from knowing that others are unhappy too

I grab all of my definitions for the blog from Google and I’m really not a fan of this one.

Misery loves company, yes, but not for the obvious reasons you might think.

It’s definitely not that I get comfort from knowing that others are unhappy too. I hope it’s abundantly clear that we wouldn’t want any other passengers in our special little boat. (Thanks for joining us on our journey though!)

It’s just that baby loss affects everything, every thing, e v e r y t h i n g .

So in part, it’s helpful to speak to people who are going through similar, people who just get it. It means I can speak and not worry about feeling judged, that I don’t have to explain why I do not want to go to the farm this weekend or be wary about some of the things that people may inadvertently say. It means I can laugh with people about some of the more off-the-wall stuff.

But I’ve been thinking about this saying a lot recently and I’ve come to realise that my personal misery loves (specific) company mainly because, I don’t want to be the one to…

ii) Rain on the parade: Prevent someone from enjoying an event; spoil someone’s plans

On Friday, I met two friends for dinner and they are in good places. I am so pleased for them, they’ve both been through bumpier times and they’ve come out the other end, so we three were belatedly celebrating their new married lady titles.

As we worked our way around the table, it was my turn to give an update. And I didn’t want to. My misery does want company, but it equally does not want to rain on your parade.

Similarly, it’s a friend’s baby shower today. Probably round about now, actually. And I decided not to attend. I feel ok today, probably strong enough to withstand it, to cheerlead and celebrate. But I’m reassuring myself that it’s not only a kindness to myself not to attend, it’s a kindness to everyone else too. The mum-to-be and the majority of her friends know that I am existing through baby loss, so my being there would make it awkward, for everyone. It’s better to stay away, so that I don’t have to overcompensate, to dampen the mood or have to avoid any furtive glances. We should be celebrating, not commiserating.

I’ve also recently had two pregnancy announcements and though both ladies are trying to keep me in their lives, I am finding it difficult. I always loved being pregnant and I just want them to go and enjoy being pregnant. I don’t see how they can do that, with my tainted presence, when I can only be a maximum of 80% happy at the moment (I’ve stolen this phrase from V, a new friend and fellow loss mum, because it sums it up so perfectly).

So I think that misery wanting company, is not that we want to bring others down, it’s that we don’t want to bring others down. We’ve not come through our personal trials just yet, and we don’t want to be that person to rain on your parade.

iii) Glutton for punishment: A person who is always eager to undertake hard or unpleasant tasks

So what am I doing instead today? Well, the obvious nut-bar thing to do: I’m reading about the Holocaust, of course! How’s that for a glutton for punishment? I’m reading Cilka’s Journey and despite the depressing subject matter, I’ve already seen Summer’s name on pages 8, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 34, 43 and 50 – so she’s definitely keeping me company today (I’m also eating lots of chocolate digestive biscuits – so just a regular glutton on that front).

I’ve so frequently put myself through things I could surely do without. I hoped it would be character building, but often it’s just been soul destroying and to my character’s detriment actually. Kindness shrinking, bitterness blooming. So this setting boundaries or ‘personal kindness’ thing is warranted, but it’s still new, and still very uncomfortable. Should I just be womaning up now and getting on with doing the hard stuff? I just can’t figure out who should be the bigger person here.

I’m trying to combine all these sayings and thoughts, and put myself in someone else’s shoes: Would I personally be offended if my friend was “all baby loss” and needed some time out (even if it was indefinitely) – I don’t think so.

Going through any sad significant life event is a continual “happy for you, sad for me”. But which should dominate? Who should be expected to suck it up? Surely it’s easier to be the “happy for me, sad for you” person? That’s eventually what killed one of my friendships: when I was happy and she was sad, she couldn’t be happy for me. I was ok with that. But then when she was happy, and I was sad, she couldn’t be sad with me. I can’t shake that.

I like to think that in a way, sympathising with someone else’s sadness would add to my own gratitude. That I could sympathise and come away counting my own blessings, perhaps bizarrely heightening my own contentedness. So maybe pregnant ladies do want to be around me? No idea.

I was talking through some of these conundrums on Friday night. One friend said how she knew someone who had been putting herself first for a while, concluding by saying “do you know what? It hasn’t made me love her any less”. I liked that. A lot. I guess that’s what I’m asking for here:

If I’m a tad miserable, when being a glutton for punishment, yet trying not to rain on parades – please don’t love me any less.

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(2) Comments

  1. Claudia says:

    I missed a baby shower and a christening. Christening was the day after Charlie’s funeral (which there was no attempt to attend so if I’d gone it would have been a disservice to myself. And to others, because I’d just be a mess. So not guilty on that front.

    Baby shower – that’s waaaaaaay to positive for me. I didn’t get to have mine (didn’t get that far) but I struggle with it.
    Also, I’d be doing a bigger disservice to them. I’d probably be able to take it. But like you, I don’t want to rain on others parade. And being ok or not, people will always be giving you “the look”. Waiting for you to maybe be emotional. Or congratulating you on how well you are managing.
    So… kindness to me and others.

    I like your friends approach. Real friends will understand your retreat. They will welcome you when you’re ready. Or so I hope ❤

    (I’ve been eating spoonfuls of ice cream every time I go to the kitchen… so hell yeah for food!) Xx

    Oh, oh! Just one last thought. The reason you are reading about the holocaust or some other activity you named glutton for punishment, actually is you giving your body a logical release of your sadness. You need to feel it, even though you don’t necessarily feel it – confusing, but in my mind it makes sense and I hope it somehow makes a connection in yours. The way I see it, it’s like a cough drop, you’re soothing yourself by stimulating what hurts. Its healing. I know it. Because I wrote that. And I have qualifications because I am in the bath, with some salts and a candle. So obviously I know stuff 😂

    On a serious note though, you do what you have to do. That is being kind to yourself xx

    1. Anjulie says:

      … and that, my friend, is the daft “off the wall” stuff I’m taking about! You making me laugh, when it comes from someone who just 100% gets it 😘 xx

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