I think there’s a general feeling out there that once something truly bad happens to you, nothing bad will ever happen to you again. Or more specifically, nothing bad should ever happen to you again.
When I was pregnant with Annabel and I’d mention my fear of something going wrong with her pregnancy, countless people would reply, “Nothing is going to go wrong. You’ve suffered enough.” I wanted to believe that were true, but I knew better.
That whole “lightning never strikes twice” adage comes up a lot in grief circles because that is often what we have to tell ourselves to carry on every day. “I’ve already paid my price.” “It’s someone else’s turn.” It’s too terrifying to admit that actually, there is absolutely nothing preventing “The Bad” from striking again.
It’s hard to admit that so much is out of our control. You can ostensibly do everything right and things can still go haywire. I used to spend entire sessions talking to my therapist about how terrifying it felt to know I controlled so little of my life. The fear used to be overwhelming.
I still have moments when I really struggle with this, especially after last year’s miscarriage. It was a reminder that anything can happen. Anything. I am working to manage my fears but it isn’t easy, even four years in – I still find myself awake in the middle of the night, checking on my kids, my husband, my dog.
Sometimes the burdens other people carry seem unfathomable. The losses they have suffered are staggering. It’s impossible to comprehend why some people have to suffer so much. In the last four years, I’ve met so many people who’ve been dealt multiple blows, and it’s devastating. Life can be so unfair.
Eight years ago today out 1st son Jake died. He was born at 26
weeks and we never got to bring him home but we were lucky enough to spend 14 days with him.
Four years and 4 months later we woke up to find our youngest (full term, home and 6 weeks old) son Sawyer had died. As they were doing CPR I screamed “Sawyer can not die, our 1st son is already dead.”
Yes, I agree with you – life can be so unfair. Sending you hugs and hope.
L, I was thinking about you when I wrote this. I didn’t realize today was Jake’s day. I hate what you’ve had to live through. It’s so unfair. So much love to you, always.
After Jake, I thought “the bad” had already happened. After Sawyer I will never take it for granted that “the bad” can and does happen to people more than once.
I am right there with you up in the middle of the night checking our twins, my husband and our dogs. Thank you for this post Heather. Sorry about the 2nd comment – I seem to have a lot to say about this one. As always, sending you hope and hugs.
I am so very sorry for your losses.
I am so sorry for your losses.
I think people truly believe that with the laws of averages bad things just cant happen to people too many times. That we all get our share of bad and good luck.
I know that it’s said people make their own good and bad luck but some times it just doesnt happen that way. I knew some who’s life was a catalogue of disasters, none of them of her own making and none of them she would ever have been able to prevent. Still she battled on and wore a smile on her face, though I know she felt absolute despair.
The pain of ‘bad things’, what ever they maybe, often overwhelms the joy of the good things that happen to us in our lives. Its hard to do but remembering the joy of the good things can sometimes be the thing that can carry us through the pain of the bad.
You know, for some it is easier to move on and not think about the potential for things to go awry. Those types of people seem to find the little rays of sunshine needed to keep pushing forward. That is me. I continually search for the good in people or events, even when some would call it a bad event. I can only hope that my ability to be “Pollyanna” serves me well til the end. I have met many people who were not able to cope or move on from catastrophic life events and I carry a bit of guilt for all of them and what they are not capable of.
“For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.” I believe. Maybe this is what helps me.
Heather – grief is an emotion that takes the biggest toll of all the emotions we can experience. It can be crippling to the point that some take their own lives. And then there are those that get up everyday and continue on because that is what is needed.
As someone who has experienced suicide/homicide personally I can tell you that when the first one happened I was young enough to cry for my aunt but not really understand everything that was going on. When my cousin died when I was 18 I fell sideways and I don’t think I’ve ever stood up right again. Then there was a grandfather and great – grand and then my brother…and on and on. Now I take each day and try to own it because I never know when I’m going to face tragedy again.
Then there are days where I wake up and just go on autopilot and try to forget the ugly and find the beauty. Some days are easier than others.
Grief cannot be measured in losses or lives. It can only be measured by those that experience it.
Colleen MN says:
Autopilot is great, have used it a few times myself. Life is not fair, but life is good, so we muddle through. Fortunately, most of us are surrounded with family and friends and people who love and support us. Dogs help too.
Colleen, you said this well. Because of life tragedies, I am thankful every day I wake up. And yes, dogs do help One thing I have learned recently, after a significant loss, is I will never use the phrase “I don’t know how you do it”. In other words, how do you live through whatever is happening….what do you mean? What choice do you have but to muddle through each day.
I know what you are talking about. My first son was born at 26 weeks and did great spent 91 days in the NICU. Then my second son was born at 25 weeks. He spent 515 days in the NICU before coming home. He had a lot of issues and came home with short gut a feeding tube and a Trach. I lived in constant fear that something really bad was going to happen to both of them 24/7. We truly lived our lives different. Finally they are both adults and I am starting to not worry so much. My second son still has health issues and is cognitively delayed but is a joy, lives at home but works 26 hours a week. Now the other shoe has dropped Zach was diagnosed with colon cancer on 6/6/13. We are now fighting for his life again. It is stage 4 and he doesn’t have much colon to start with. All I can think about is enough already! Life is not fair and I don’t understand why. I have followed your story since Maddie was born and couldn’t believe it when she got so sick so fast. I alway thought that could of been me. Zach had his Trach until he was 6 and was sick a lot. I will continue to pray for your family. I pray this type of fear never comes back into you life. Your family had had enough too.
So sorry to hear about your son…wishing you the best.
Oh Sue. I am so sorry. Please let me know if there is anything I can do.
Sue Salewski says:
Great post you are so right in that life is unfair. This doesn’t have much to do with your post but I heard this quote yesterday while watching Six Feet Under and thought it was interesting and very true.
Brenda: You know what I find interesting? If you lose a spouse, you’re called a widow, or a widower. If you’re a child and you lose your parents, then you’re an orphan. But what’s the word to describe a parent who loses a child? I guess that’s just too fucking awful to even have a name.
This is a timely entry. Just this morning I read this blog post: http://www.teamlinzer.com/2013/08/seriously.html by a blogger I follow who only two weeks ago lost her one-year-old daughter to a genetic disease. Her most recent post says that three days after her child’s funeral, she found out she has invasive breast cancer (at 35 years old, and with two young sons at home). I don’t understand how some people can have so much bad happen to them while others have seemingly charmed lives. Same with you and Maddie and Jackie!, same with Diana Stone and her recent horrific loss after losing her twins. It’s not fair and it’s heartbreaking.
I feel sick for Diana. I hadn’t heard about Eileen Linzer…gosh, that is terrible. UGH.
It really sucks because there’s already such a helpless feeling with grief and watching other people suffer. When more than one blow is dealt, it leave me feeling like what can I do? I’ve been thinking about (who I believe to be) the catalyst of this post nonstop for the last few weeks. Life can be so cruel sometimes, and my heart goes out to this person, as well as you, your family, and anyone who has suffered such excruciating loss.
I wish there was something more positive to say, something that will ease the pain or make a difference, but know that there is a lot of prayer – then, now and always.
Yes, I really can’t stop thinking about her. It’s so unfair.
Abby Leviss says:
This is really well put. When I was pregnant with my second, after losing my first to SIDS, I was scared OUT OF MY MIND. Everyone told me that “lightening doesn’t strike twice”. But, “EVERYONE” also thinks that bad things happen to “OTHER PEOPLE”, so what do they know? It kind of drove me crazy. Once you experience tragedy, you kind of wonder how you’ve made it as far as you have and you start to expect the worst.
Exactly Abby. It’s terrible to know that anything can happen. It can be crippling.
It’s true. We don’t get inoculated against tragedy just because we’ve experienced it, and I wish I didn’t know so many examples of how unfair this is. The precious moment is all we have–so let’s cherish the hell out of it.
“We don’t get inoculated against tragedy” is the PERFECT way to describe this.
I am dealing with the opposite of this right now. I have had 2 miscarriages and a stillbirth @38 weeks. I am now pregnant again only 6 weeks. I keep thinking how is something bad not going to happen when I have lost so much already. In the last 2 years we have lost my brother, my daughter, another baby at 11 weeks, and my grandpa. I am struggling with staying positive and that this baby is going to grow and come home with us in April.
It must be the moon because this post couldn’t have come at a better moment! I sit at work terrified that something “else” will happen to me. After losing my 1st son at 21wks in Jan. and now being pregnant again, every pain & odd occurrence sends my PTSD brain into overdrive. I often wish my luxury of being naive to “the bad” wasn’t gone but it is and now we all just move forward… Broken but beautiful!
Hits home. I’m coming up on the 10th anniversary of two classmates dying in a car crash in high school. One of the two who died in the crash, his parents had already lost their only other child a few years earlier.
Where is the sense in that? One of the many reasons that I’m just not sure what I believe in any longer.
I am so terribly sorry for your pain, Heather, and that of others in these comments, and that of my classmate’s family.
There SHOULD be a limit to how much tragedy can be put upon one person.
Heather, you captured my thoughts exactly. There absolutely should be a limit to how much grief one person or family should have to endure. It’s so unfair. My heart breaks for Diana and her family and for everyone suffering a loss.
My best friend was married to a widower who had 2 young sons. His wife had died of cancer. So when she was diagnosed with cancer herself, after having 2 more sons with him, we all assured her she would beat it. I mean, what were the odds that this man would lose 2 wives by the age of 46 and that those older boys would lose another mom. Unfortunately, she lost her fight and he is again widowed and the boys motherless. Life can be so so unfair and the fear can be crippling. I don’t have any answers but I understand and I wish you peace xoxo
PS I am so sorry to read all these tragedies that your commenters have suffered. My sympathies are with you all.
Life is unfair and I have dealt with the same issues you mention, thinking nothing else bad can happen because something already has. When our daughter was born with a serious heart defect, we were devastated and thought it was bad enough. So, when she began having weird jerks at age 1, I didn’t think much of it at first. Then, I learned after a few months, that she was actually having seizures and was diagnosed with epilepsy. I was devastated again. I had missed it. I was so naïve and I felt like a terrible parent. My mother caught it because it never occurred to me something else would be wrong with her. Since then, I constantly worry every little thing means something, every little thing could be something bad. I have a hard time thinking something means nothing. Remember the saying, “Think horses, not zebras.” I always think zebras first. The fact that she was diagnosed with an eye condition the next year and scoliosis the year after that has only worsened my issues. I feel like pediatricians don’t really like me. No new diagnosis this year yet…we’re crossing our fingers and hoping her fall down our stairs will be our only issue. One good thing did come out of it. When our other daughter had a lazy eye, I caught it so quickly the eye doctor couldn’t believe it. She said it was very slight and was amazed I noticed it. I said I notice everything! I guess it can be a curse or a blessing. I’m still working on accepting it all. I like what Dory said in Finding Nemo, “Just Keep Swimming.”
I have been following your story for a long time. Life is not fair. We lost our baby boy last year at 27 weeks 5 days. He was stillborn due to placental insufficieny. This huge blow came to us after a 3 year journey though infertility and repeated fertility treatments. There is alot of pain in this world and I struggle with it because so much of it revolves around infertility/miscarriage/stillbirth. We are blessed with a current pregnancy of a little girl that will be here in November.
We will never know why these things happen. My heart breaks for you over Maddie. I wish you much peace and good times with Annie and James!
Oh Amy, I am so sorry to hear about your sweet baby boy. Congrats on your little girl – I know how scary it is. Lots of love to you, and if I can ever do anything for you, please let me know!
kelly cole says:
YES. A million times YES.
When our daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor, I remember thinking “well, this is our THING.” But now I realize we can have MORE than one THING. Yikes.
Grief can be crippling at times, but after having my baby boy born sleeping, I no longer believe in happy endings. I’m petrified that one day I will wake up and my kids will be gone. I can’t sleep thinking all the things that can go wrong. I no longer trust people, and I want to keep them in a bubble. Because why would I be so lucky, that nothing bad will ever happened to me again??? Life is unfair and after all of this years I’m still angry and hurt.
I have the same worries. I have had enough happen, and seen enough happen to others, to know that no one is immune and anything can happen. Hugs to you xoxo