The Silent Treatment

Hi. My name is Kati, and I should be 25 weeks pregnant… but I’m not. My uterus is empty. My grief is real. My sighs are heavy.

Most days, I am fine. Other days, the waves of grief hit me over and over and over again until I am washed up on the shore, exhausted, standing over the stove, cooking dinner, and counting down the moments until bedtime — just hanging on so I do not have another breakdown in front of my kids. I know it’s ok for them to see me cry. Trust me, they have.

Do you want to know the worst part about grief? Most people just ignore it. Our society does not talk about what makes us sad. It’s too hard. It’s too painful. It hurts too much. But in this season of too hard and too painful, those grieving, at least myself, often feel like we are being given the silent treatment in regards to our pain.

I can count on one hand the number of people who continue to check in on me and how I am handling the loss of our baby. It’s no one’s fault. Truly. I don’t blame anyone. Our society has failed us and taught us that we don’t talk about such things. I’m honestly fortunate to have people that still do ask me about my pain. Heck, apparently radio stations are banning “Baby It’s Cold Outside” in fear of it lending its hand to date rape culture. That’s what we do. If its hard to messy or has the potential to cause pain or sadness, we cut it out of our lives completely.

But I just want to say, that is not the way to handle things. That is not the way to grieve. That is not the way to walk through grief with someone. Because grief cannot be ignored, at least not by the person grieving. It rears its painful head in the most random and bizarre of times, and people need to know they aren’t left to deal with it alone.

People need to know they can come to you with their sad, their mad, their glad, and every emotion in between, and that you won’t shy away from it. That you will be there for them, no matter the emotion. They need you to ask hard questions like, “How are you feeling about the loss of your baby today?” “How did that pregnancy announcement make you feel?” “What are you doing to help yourself grieve during this time?” They need the chance to talk about it, even when they don’t feel like it. They need you to acknowledge their pain without excluding you from your joy.

So let’s try to do better. All of us. I know I have fallen short in this category an infinite number of times. Let’s remember that we are all just walking each other home, and that the walk contains lions and tigers and bears (oh my!), and that together, we can face them head on.


The Oxygen Mask Scenario

A wise friend (hi Victoria!) reminded me a few weeks ago about the oxygen mask scenario. You know, the one where you are sitting on the plane, and the lovely flight attendant demonstrates how to put on the oxygen mask in case the whole thing goes down?And what is the last part they always remind passengers to do? Put the mask on yourself before helping anyone else.

This task seems easy enough when imagining a hypothetical scenario of a plane going down… but what about in the day to day of just doing life? Personally, I’ve caught myself lately (okay fine… basically my entire life) giving everyone else around me their oxygen masks and hoping I don’t suffocate in the process.

Listen. I’m a 2. According to the Enneagram Institute this means:

“Twos are empathetic, sincere, and warm-hearted. They are friendly, generous, and self-sacrificing, but can also be sentimental, flattering, and people-pleasing. They are well-meaning and driven to be close to others, but can slip into doing things for others in order to be needed. They typically have problems with possessiveness and with acknowledging their own needs. At their Best: unselfish and altruistic, they have unconditional love for others.

  • Basic Fear: Of being unwanted, unworthy of being loved
  • Basic Desire: To feel loved

Key Motivations: Want to be loved, to express their feelings for others, to be needed and appreciated, to get others to respond to them, to vindicate their claims about themselves.”

Basically — I LOVE to help others. Truly. It’s my favorite thing. It brings me so much joy and purpose. But I am really, really bad at making sure that I also help myself. I want to give you the oxygen mask first, every. single. time. Guess what happens if I do that? Eventually, I’ll suffocate.

The holidays are an especially trying time for many of us. We over extend ourselves to be at every Christmas party, bake cookies for every neighbor, attend all the classroom celebrations, and be happy every single second of every single day because #themagicofChristmas. We shove down feelings of sadness over lost babies and loved ones, singleness, not loving our jobs, missing home, etc. We brush under the carpet feelings of anxiety over family, money, lack of sleep, illness, and more. But what if this year… we didn’t?

What if this year, we were bold enough to put the oxygen masks on ourselves first? To step back and reflect upon how we can help others, without hurting ourselves. I really do believe that we do not have to feel tired, overwhelmed, and run down in order to also feel helpful. This seems to be the norm for many of us, and we brush it off by saying, “Oh, don’t worry! It’s just a season!” Well GUESS WHAT? THAT SEASON SUCKS!

This season, I am going to sit back and reflect on what I need to do for myself in order to love others well. I want to figure out healthy ways to love and help others, while still remembering to put the oxygen mask on myself.

How are your oxygen levels?