Monday, 22 April 2019

I'll never say never ...

There’s a phrase that is used, after loss, or grief, or infertility, that causes me to cringe. I’ve noted before that others use it to silence us, and ease their feelings of awkwardness. Yes, it is “getting overit.” But many of us continue to use it, using the instances where grief returns, or we feel isolated or hurt by comments years afterwards, to justify saying that they will “never get over it.” Personally, although I understand it (and I'm not criticising anyone who chooses to use it), I am not comfortable saying it and will, I promise, avoid it at all costs.

In the throes of loss or in the depths of infertility, or when facing that ultimatum that our quest for children is over, our feelings are intense, and getting over it seems impossible. I’ve seen many men and women object to the idea that they will “get over it,” because it seems as if that minimises their grief, and the extent of their loss. They feel, in the moment, they will never get over it.

But likewise, I imagine how it must seem to them in that moment, to hear someone else – five years or twenty years on – agree that “you will never get over it.” By saying this, I worry that we are telling those people, already in almost unbearable grief, that they will feel these intense emotions for the rest of their life, that they will feel this loss forever. What they thought was their worst nightmare will be, we are telling them, their worst nightmare. I don’t want to do that, because it not only adds to their grief, and it is just not true.

So ultimately I don’t think that it is helpful to say we never get over it. It needs to be qualified. What do we mean? That at times, it will hurt even many years later? Isn’t that different to saying we’ll never get over it? It may not feel that way to you. But for me it is. We’ll never go back to where we were before this all began, but that’s different to never getting over it.

So, given that I called my blog No Kidding, I feel a responsibility to be honest! Part of that honesty is admitting that pain over our losses – at some level, and often when we least expect it – makes itself known to us time and again. I’m not denying that, by any means. And I know that this is what most people mean when they say “I will never get over it.”

But I also feel a responsibility to be honest about the fact that we get better. We heal. We still have the scars, still feel the after effects of an injury, but still be healed. We can be changed forever, but still be healed. In healing, we accept these changes. In healing, we retake our place in the world. In healing, we refind joy.

So for me, it is simply this balance, that I am confident comes to all of us in the end, if and when we are ready. The balance between the past and the future, between pain and joy..

I think balance is admitting that we have changed, and that our changed circumstances will affect us every day until we die. It is admitting and recognising the pain when it visits, neither ignoring nor exaggerating it.

But balance also ensures that we are able to accept our new circumstances, and not be ruled by grief. It is in finding joy, choosing not to dwell in sadness, turning towards optimism and happiness,. It is celebrating when the pain leaves us as well, celebrating all the gifts of our life. It means embracing happiness, and sadness, and knowing it all passes, and knowing that we will be okay.

So you’ll never hear me say that I will never get over it.

7 comments:

  1. dear Mali, what a beautiful post. I agree with every single word!
    love,
    Klara

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  2. I personally hate the phrase "get over it" in general -- it puts grief in the same box as disappointment, ties it up in a tidy bow, and makes it seem like there's a finite point where it ends. I like what you say about healing -- you can heal from they pain of infertility and childlessness, because it doesn't hurt the way it did when it was fresh, and you can move forward towards a life that you love and isn't fill of constant pain. Healing, to paraphrase your words, means the wound is still there and it's a part of who you are, but it doesn't hurt in the same way, you can live with it and just occasionally have that "oh yeah, I have a scar there" pain.

    I can see how hearing "you never get over it" could be daunting to someone at the crossroads or newly CNBC, and could send the message that it is a sad and hopeless existence. Which isn't true. I love this post so much, it's a thinker!

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    1. Please forgive typos, using my phone for blogging is not my favorite!

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  3. I love this so much: "In healing, we retake our place in the world. In healing, we refind joy."

    Love your honesty and resilience and your willingness to talk about the tricky and difficult parts of grieving (and healing!).

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  4. Not being able to have the family I'd always wanted has had a lasting impact on my life and there have been echoes all throughout the past 26 years, it's affected relationships with friends, family, colleagues - it's things like this that's made moving onwards really challenging. So when you say we heal, yes we certainly do - but not without a heavy heart in my case. Does this mean then, that I'm not 'over it'? Or I've simply done the best I could do in difficult circumstances? Either way, dialogue is cruicial to finding that inner peace - which is why I love reading your words and hearing your take on these subjects.

    I'm not sure if I can say I'm 'over it' for want of better words. The pain isn't as raw as when I had my first or my last loss. But the pain still resides deeply and I've learned to live and navigate a different path with that residual pain.

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    1. I think you are a classic (and rather wonderful) example of someone who has balance. You enjoy your life, but not having a family has affected your life, and still has the power to hurt. But you don't let that stop you.

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  5. Dear Mali,
    thanks for your inspiring post! I think it depends on what you mean with "get over something".
    Infertility did change me, for sure I'll never be the same again (and today I'm even grateful for that). On the other hand, the pain got easier and less frequent. My loss is still there, but I moved forward...

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