Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Survival

Author's note: I am taking an unusual step with this post, deviating from my typical perspective of writing only about my personal experiences. I am taking liberties, I admit, drawing upon the collective unconscious from the hundreds of stories I have listened to and cried through. My words are not meant to judge or assume or patronize. Rather, I mean merely to provide perspective and hope. I welcome your comments.

We are survivors - we parents who have experienced the tragic death of a child before he is born. We have survived horrific ultrasounds that reveal no life where there once was the beat of a heart. We have survived making the impossible decision to miscarry naturally or have painful, invasive surgery, and the consequences of each. We have survived our babies unceremoniously being taken from our wombs while we lay in an anesthetized slumber. We have survived rounds of medical tests and hopes (and fears) something would be found. We have survived despair (and relief) when nothing was. We have survived not having graves to visit (or having graves to visit). We have survived pitying stares and ungracious comments from strangers and loved ones. We have survived doctors saying I don't know what's wrong with you, there's nothing else to be done, it's nature's way. We have survived silent tears, fearing reactions if we shared why we weep. We have survived facing down unimaginable horror and saying, "This will not break me."

We have also survived tremendous compassion. We have survived prayers and well-wishes from strangers who share our bond and friends who do not. We have survived unlikely compatriots sharing their own stories once they learned ours, and feeling less alone. We have survived advances in research that now identify more causes than ever to explain the death of a baby during pregnancy. We have survived getting up the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that, and finally one day taking a breath that wasn't wracked with grief. We have survived creating new relationships and strengthening existing ones with those who have chosen to walk beside us in our grief. We have survived making the difficult choices to end relationships that didn't withstand our experiences. We have survived the incredible joy of realizing life can be beautiful, despite the pain, and perhaps because of it.

I believe it is not what happens to us that defines who we are. Rather, it is what we choose to do about what happens to us that defines our character.

We are survivors.

6 comments:

Christa said...

Cynthia, Wow, your words touched my heart. You said exactly what we all feel, with such honesty and grace. You are a beautiful writer. Thank you for this. We are survivors, beautiful survivors, shaped by heartache but filled with hope.

The Blue Sparrow said...

Wow. Your post is beautiful. I had never thought about it that way before. I hope one day I can look at life and think its beautiful again too. You gave me a little bit of hope for the future with this post, thank you for sharing it!

Brie said...

well said.
day by dayday by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, we are survivors, and we are strong.

Yaya said...

WOW.

(((((HUGS)))))

This is absolutely an perfect post.

I did not have many people stick by my side through my grief, unfortunately. I even got fired from my job. Yes, fired, for grieving.

Ter said...

Hi, I came here via YaYa's post in which this post was linked.

I, too, am a bereaved parent (and bereaved wife).

Survivor, I am, but not by choice.

Colleen said...

Hi Cynthia,
What an amazing, wonderful, well-written post. Everything you said is so true, but we never think of it... Thanks for bringing it out into the open for my eyes to read, and for my heart to feel.
And thanks for spending 3 hours visiting with me today, I really needed it! :) It really meant alot to me...
Take Care!

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