Thoughts from the M.I.S.S. conference

It’s taken me a long time to be able to sit and write this. I’d hoped to knock it out right after the conference – a quick recap with some easily digestible (but powerful) takeaways.

The truth? I’m still reeling.

Sitting in a room with 250 other parents whose children have died was horrifying. And deeply moving.

The pain of a child’s death is debilitating. It’s against the natural order of life.

It’s not supposed to happen.

But it does. Every day. And we don’t want to think about it, or talk about it, because those of us who know what it’s like to have our hearts walk around outside of our bodies can’t imagine – and don’t ever want to experience – the devastation.

There is a silence around child death that only isolates grievers further. As a society we don’t know what to do. It hurts too much.

And so it was affirming to hear the stories. It was also terrifying. I listened as parents told of how only children, multiple children, all their children died. I ached. I cried. I used every tool I have to not shatter into a thousand pieces. I laughed, moved rocks, and walked labyrinths. I heard statistics, research results and why grief shouldn’t be medicated. I learned that I could have brought my baby home and I sobbed at the thought of his sister, his grandparents and the bravest of our friends being able to meet him.

I wondered how long I will be able to do this work that I believe in so deeply.

At a business meeting this week, a woman suggested I read the book The Anatomy of Suicide. Then she mentioned that on his deathbed, when asked if he had any regrets, the author Louis Everstine said, “I wish I’d studied love“.

Those words are still ringing in my ears.

Grief is heavy. Living with it can seem a sisyphean task. But if we don’t let ourselves feel it, we limit our capacity for love. We increase our susceptibility to anger, to depression, to living as shadows of ourselves.

My favorite quote of the conference came from Peter Breggin, M.D., a 76-year-old psychiatrist who, in his over 50 years of practice has never prescribed psychiatric drugs for a patient. He summed up his philosophy on mental health care, and on life, with these words:

All we have to offer each other, is each other.

Tattoo this on your heart.

If you are grieving right now, do not do it alone. Find your right people. Find the therapist, the minister, the friends or the online community that help you know you belong somewhere, that you’re going to be okay. Find compassionate hearts who are willing to hear your story and love you in your darkest – and brightest – moments.

If you’re not grieving now, know that you will be one day. So be that person for someone who is. Offer your heart as best you can. Listen without judgment, without trying to fix. And if you can’t, because your unresolved grief gets in the way, then perhaps it’s time for you to explore it.

All we have to offer each other, is each other.

I offer you my heart, my ears, my compassion. I offer my belief that you will be okay that you already are okay. I offer you love and I wish for you a life where you are able to sit with the depths of your grief so you can touch the center of joy.

with love,
Alana

P.S. Registration is open for the next round of The Picking Up the Pieces Tele-Retreat. Wondering if it’s right for you? Schedule your free 15-minute Shift Session, no strings attached.

P.P.S. Today is National Pregnancy and  Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Everyone, the world over, is invited to light a candle at 7pm for at least one hour, so that there is a wave of light around the world to honor and remember our babies, gone too soon.

 

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One Response to Thoughts from the M.I.S.S. conference

  1. “All we have to offer each other, is each other.” That says it all, doesn’t it? So simple. The most profound things usually are.

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