I woke up this morning feeling fairly ok, but then I read something which made me into captain grumpy.
I should explain that the content was not what upset me or made me grumpy.
No, in fact it triggered a memory that I didn’t even realise I was recalling.
A memory I didn’t consciously think about at all really.
A friend of mine shared a just giving page on Facebook.
A friend of his (I’m guessing) is running the Marathon Des Sables to raise money for our local hospital’s neo-natal unit.
I donated as this is something close to my heart having watched my wife go through the trauma of losing our first 2 babies as 22.5 weeks.
It wasn’t until much later on this morning though that I realised it had had an unexpected effect on me.
It was when I lost my temper with my kids this morning.
I realised that I was angrier than I should be in the situation at hand. I had taken myself off to cool down and began to think about it.
I realised I hadn’t felt like this when I woke up.
They hadn’t been that bad and this was definitely an over-reaction on my part, so what was causing it?
The only answer had to be that I am still carrying around so much hurt and anger over those two loses.
Even though this lady’s experience had, in the end, been a positive one and had lead her to want to help others, it had reminded me of my loss and left that pain and anger in my sub-conscious chipping away and niggling at me.
Not anger at my wife, or anger at the people involved at the hospital.
The pain of losing a child you never even got to know.
I think this is something that is often overlooked by other guys in a similar situation.
We’re kinda programmed to think our needs at this time are totally irrelevant because what our partners have just been through is something we simply cannot comprehend.
That’s true, although we feel loss and pain and anger, we can never truly appreciate just how big a difference there is between what we go through and what they go through.
We cannot understand.
We can be there, we can love them, support them, hold them.
But, we’ll never understand.
Now there are two things here which are not so much secrets as things a lot miss:
- It’s ok that we cannot understand.
- The fact that we have not experienced quite the same loss as them does not mean we don’t also need to recognise that we HAVE experienced loss and be open about it and grieve.
I grieved for both of the children we lost.
We talked about it, we cried and I felt like I had grieved properly.
I still have anger left though.
Anger and pain that this had to happen to us.
Anger that our children could not be saved.
Anger that I could not help my wife either during the deliveries or since to try and heal the wounds left by their deaths.
Having recognised that it was this causing my anger and not really my children, although they do know exactly how to push my, and each others buttons, it became much easier to calm down and deal with the actual situation as it was.
It did surprise me though.
It also made me wonder: how many other men in this situation don’t realise what is the root cause of their anger and simply let their feelings be caged up ready to explode at the wrong provocation?
Theres a big push at he moment to get men to open up about depression and mental health issues and I always try to forward these messages amongst my friends.
I figure if I can try to put into words my feeling about how this experience left me then maybe it will help someone else do the same.
Maybe the pain and anger wont eat someone else up until it’s all they have left.
Maybe they will talk, or write on a blog that no one reads, to pass on the message that it’s ok to hurt and ok to admit you sometimes just dont know how to make it stop.
Its ok to be open that at times you feel weak and useless because there was absolutely nothing you could do to stop this terrible thing from happening to the person you love.
It’s ok to talk.
It’s ok to accept help.
It’s ok to cry!
Even if my words help just 1 person and they pass it along this will have been worth it.
If not, it was still worth it for me.
In case you also want to help, the Just Giving page is here