Last Wednesday the 15th was National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day. And the day’s prompt word was life. I tried to do the five minutes 3 different occasions and stalled out. The word for Thursday the 16th was adjust. I’m combining those two together, as well as their allotted time (and then some)…
My mom sat around a table with five colleagues. They’d worked together for a long time, and she was back–but not all back, if you know what I mean–at work after I’d lost the girls. Around the table, five of the six had been very close to some form of pregnancy loss, be it their own or that of a wife, or, like my mom, as a grandparent. Around the table, my mom became a member of the club.
A quiet club was how one of the others described it. “It’s a quiet club, and you don’t know how big it is until you become a member.”
And you always wish you could turn in your card.
Once you are in, though, meeting other members can be life as you walk on the other side of death. Because this is what I’ve learned about club members, since I joined nearly 3 years ago:
The conversation among them is honest. It does not matter if you lost your child last month, last year, or 20+ years ago. Club members carry their pain and their memories with them, and most of them do so for the express purpose of honoring that little life by caring for other members. They may not consciously do that, of course. At first, they do it for themselves, because the must. But along the way, many of them have realized that their pain has redemptive value, so they hold it for others as well.
Club members set no timelines. You can heal on your own schedule. The seasoned ones will let you see how it still hurts, decades later. In fact, sometimes, because of generational differences in attitude, there are members who joined long ago but were not given permission to heal. They were told, outright or just by the culture, that it was just something that happened, something to be ‘got over’ and adjusted to. Sometimes, the younger members in fresh grief show the older that the grief they were told to ignore can be felt now.
If you have joined the club recently, I’m so sorry.
But if you meet us, your fellow members, we will do our flat out best to honor your child, your pain and your story. That’s the pledge on our cards.