Monday, May 4, 2009

The Elephant in the Room

I got this poem from my sweet friend Shiela at church. She said she thought of me when she read it.

It is amazing to me how people can avoid the obvious... very obvious. I understand why they do it, they are uncomfortable. But if only they could see into the heart and soul of one who has lost and see the deep pain, that has made its home there. Do they have any idea how uncomfortable that is? Do they even recognize me when I can hardly recognize myself at times?

I was trying to tell one of my brothers about this elephant in the room feeling. I told him how I saw a neighbor the day after I had Samuel. I had just seen her 3 days before.... hugely pregnant, we talked all about the baby coming any time. I sent Greg out shortly after we got home from the hospital, literally 2 hours after we said goodbye to our son, to tell the neighbors what had happened. I didn't want to see them a couple of weeks later and have them ask how the baby was and then have to explain over and over again to each neighbor what had happened. I just couldn't do it. (I did have to do it once when a neighbors mom saw me running about 6 weeks after Samuel was born... poor lady, I just broke down in her arms telling her what had happened) Anyways... I digress... this women didn't say a word to me about what had happened... my missing belly, my empty arms. She was talking about getting out her Christmas decorations. WHAT???? She knew, Greg had just spoke with her the day before. I just wanted to yell, "I just delivered my stillborn son yesterday. My son is dead. Yesterday I had that sweet boys body in my arms even though his spirit was gone. Do you realize what has happened to me in the last 48 hours?" I didn't say any of that of course:) It was the strangest feeling, to have the obvious ignored. That was just the start of it... I don't know if I will ever get used to it, but it has happened over and over again.

I was trying to get my brother to understand this feeling. It would be like you are at work or church like normal. You are going about your normal routine there and everyone is happy to talk to you, hang out with you, making plans with you etc. That same evening you get in a car accident that leaves you battered and bruised and in a wheel chair. The next week when you show up at work or church in the wheelchair... no one even mentions it. It is like they don't see the wheelchair, your bandages, bruises or you... They don't bring up the accident or your condition. Wouldn't it be strange if no one said anything about any of it???

Please know I am not pointing fingers at all. I get it. I do forgive people for not knowing how to approach the subject of my son's premature death. (I guess it really wasn't premature to God... He knew the exact # of days he would live... but it was a little, a lot premature to me:) It was so sweet tonight during our family prayers Caleb thanked God for giving us 9 months and 1 day with Samuel. You could hear in his voice how much he treasured that time with Samuel.

We have had a really rough week. But you know I am thankful that the Lord KNOWS exactly what I am thinking. He knows every intricate detailed part of my son. He created him in my womb. My son is in His presence. How I wish I could be there too:) Someday.... He is not uncomfortable with me, my tears or my loss, He wants to hear all about it. He has got to be getting tired of hearing from me:) But let me tell you there is great comfort in the fact that he never tires:)

Here is the poem:

The Elephant in the Room (by Terry Kettering)
There's an elephant in the room.
It is large and squatting, so it is hard to get around it.
Yet we squeeze by with, "How are you?" And, "I'm fine:...
And a thousand other forms of trivial chatter.
We talk about the weather.
We talk about work.
We talk about everything else---
except the elephant in the room.

There's an elephant in the room.
We all know it is there.
We are thinking about the elephant as we talk together.
It is constantly on our minds.
For, you see, it is a very big elephant.
It has hurt us all.

But we do not talk bout the elephant in the room.
Oh, please, say his name.
Oh, please, say "Samuel" again.
Oh, please, let's talk about the elephant in the room.
For if we talk about his death, perhaps we can talk about his life?
Can I say "Samuel" to you and not have you look away?
For if I cannot,
then you are leaving me
In a room...
With an elephant.

Have I ever told you hearing Samuel's name is like music to my ears:)
Samuel, Samuel, sweet precious Samuel!! :)


Tonya said...

Dear Sara,

I have read this poem before and it is SO true! There have been so many elephants in conversations with me, and I hate it! I have found it to be so different from when my mom died. No one was afraid to say they were sorry when she passed. What makes my baby any different? He was a person too. He had a heartbeat just like everyone else. He was just born into heaven instead of into this world.

Thank you for commenting on my blog. I do NOT mind at all if you write about the yarn analogy. That's why I posted it. I tried to express myself through it but I'm not sure I did it adequately. You may be able to do a better job. You can link to my post if you want to, or not. Hopefully, it will give people a little something tangible to relate what we're going through.

I'm sorry you've had a rough week. You've been in my thoughts and prayers. I wish we were closer to meet and talk in person. Sending you ((((Big Hugs)))).


Rachel said...

Sara - I hope this week brings some relief from the intensity of your grief. I am continuing to pray.

I know this "elephant in the room" feeling. Sadly enough I can think of one occasion when I had this "don't talk about it attitude" after an aquaintance's baby was stillborn (though she never used that term)about 14 months b/f Felicity was born. I asked this gal (now a close friend) to forgive me. I remember sitting by her in a meeting and rubbing her shoulder but not knowing what to say. So I didn't say anything. It meant so much to me when a gal from church saw me struggling during a service and asked me afterward how only Felicity would've been. I love to hear her name and I'd much rather have people ask "personal" questions that sit back and wonder about things.

I saw a short film on a twist of this elephant scenario - it was very powerful.

Amanda said...

Thank you for the honesty of your post. I know what you mean, and I still struggle with it today. Many people look confused when they find that I still grieve for my daughter. What seems a long time for them seems like last week to me.I've struggled with what is worse, the elephant that no one wants to acknowledge or the person who always compares their level of grief to yours. People just don't know what to say or how to be helpful. Well most people.
The one thing that helped me was a man in my office who lost his son to suicide. Our circumstances were different, but when he stopped by my office at the end of the day and said "how are you?" I knew he was really asking "HOW are YOU?" I'll pray that you find such a person or even a group in your life too. Some how knowing I had a 'grief' ally at work or church or where ever made it easier to deal with the people who were so hurtful. Blessings to you.

Pink Slippers said...

Sweet little Samuel.
How blessed you were to have him and yet I want to cry for you losing him so early. Do you wan to have another little baby? Not to replace but to help with your arms feeling the way they do? Maybe it would help? I'm sure you have your feelings about this. I wish I could just scream for you and yet hug your whole sweet family for enduring this pain.