Mentorship in Grief
Grief Writing - Prompt 8
This was supposed to be a reflection on having a mentor or guiding star in our grief.
In a culture where grief and death are rarely discussed openly, it's hard to look up to someone else's grief journey and take on a mentor or a guiding light. Women who have written books about their grief and losses have been my biggest points of encouragement and connection, other than those mentioned below.
My mom has also been great. She calls me every month on the 23rd and speaks Miles' name without hesitation and this is the best gift she could give me. To remember and honor our son on that important and life-changing day. I love you, Mom!
My husband was my partner in grief, and he's wonderful.
I don't know that there are mentors in baby loss. There are people who understand and people who can't imagine. And for those who get it, the hurt never stops. That is a resounding message in the community. We will always yearn for our children and their missing futures.
I went to a stillbirth mama retreat at 6 months postpartum and there was a woman there who had lost her daughter more than 20 years prior. Hearing from her and how grief changes over the years was good, but she couldn't become a mentor to me, as she had never told her story of her daughter before that day. Ever. She gleaned strength from us! She is a peer in grief.
I rarely have mentors because by the time I am strong enough, I find myself leading. I lead by writing candidly and vulnerably about my grief on Instagram and shared dozens of informational articles about baby loss on Facebook.
Perhaps I mentored myself. Facebook groups and women alongside me in similar types of losses definitely helped to keep me alive. I made a friend with a very similar story to mine. Homebirth. Long labor with midwives who wouldn't transfer care. Dead baby right in the middle of laboring or during childbirth. Maybe that peer was my mentor and I was hers. Honestly, we just stumbled through grief together as our sons are 3 weeks apart in age.
I now lead a tiny group of moms whose babies died during childbirth. Because people with similar experiences tend to feel less alone.
My therapist was a wonderful person, but I wouldn't call her a mentor. Other grief-familiar people on social media who become grief counselors and put up poignant memes are definitely people I look up to, but I never sought them out for mentorship.
Megan Devine was probably the biggest guiding light in validating my grief through her book IOTYNO, but I couldn't even pull it off the shelf until I was 13 months out from Miles' death. And by that time I was leading the book club WHILE reading it and was serving as a leader, and probably a mentor to some, simply because I was willing to lead the group. I was still processing a lot of the residual junk of secondary loss and disappointment in family members but did the best I could to show up every week for all of us.
I don't have mentors in grief. Only peers and a couple of guiding lights. One that guided me here. :)