Most Days

I went to go and see a doctor a few weeks after Gabriel was born. I could not sleep. I would lay myself down and stare at the ceiling, and I could not close my eyes. I was, quickly, becoming frantic. Terrified. So, I went to go and see the doctor who was filling in for my GP, and I explained that my son had died 14 days before, and I could not sleep, and could I have something to help me? Because it was bad already, and I knew it would be worse if I couldn’t sleep. He gave me, as if he was doing me the favour of all eternity, 7 nights worth of pills. He looked at me and told me that I would have to learn to cope. It’s a level of cruelty that astounds me still.

A week later I sat in my GP’s office and he told me that he wasn’t sure that 3 months would do it, but it was a start – come back if I needed more. There is, for the record, 1 pill left in that bottle.

Perhaps it would surprise you, those of you who have not lost a child, if I told you that there are places in my grief life I do not – cannot go. At some point in this process, you look hard at places in your sorrow, and you shake your head, and you realize that if you go down that path, madness lies at the end. However much, in the midst of our most personal moments of agony, we might wish for madness, we seem to know that it is not an option. We sit in our doctor’s office and we quietly explain that our baby has died, and we are very sorry to trouble, but we cannot sleep, and could we have some help with that. Not Valium or laudanum or entire bottles of rum, but a pill so that when we close our eyes, we can sleep. Our overworked brains can rest, if only for a few hours. And our outward behaviour does not match the pain and the fear and the sorrow in our hearts.

The truth is, I can see him at 18 months – reddish hair, his mother’s temper, his father’s logic. It doesn’t take much, and those thoughts are never very far from me. But I do not spend time there. That way madness lies.

I’m talking real madness. Not slightly crazy, distraught. No, I’m talking the have-you-committed, lose-your-job-your-house-your-car-your-will-to-live. You can spend so much time on what should have been, and the gross unfairness of it all, that you stop living. You can spend all of your time in what should have been, and lose your grip on what is.

I have never really lost it at Gabriel’s death. I have never screamed or wailed in public. Indeed, I’ve never done either in front of Mr. Spit. I have screamed once. Wailed beyond all comprehension twice. That way madness lies.

And so, most days, well, really all days, I move through my life. And more than moving through life, I actually like my life. It’s not what I wanted, what I planned, but it is what it is. And it`s a good life.

“Did you hear the announcement about our baby in church?”

A note on my Facebook page asking if we had heard the announcement at church about the new baby. An announcement on Father`s day. And I looked at this note, turning my head sideways, trying to figure out how to explain. Struck by this gap. I understand how they wouldn’t “get” the conjunction of the day and the news, and how hard that would be for Mr. Spit. I understand that. I get it, even if they don’t. And I am left confused and saddened. Because there is no way to explain a hurt that is so wide or deep. There are no physical signs of it. I am, solidly sane.

Because I do not scream, because I ask for mild sleeping pills and not tranquilizers, that doesn’t mean that some times don’t hurt more than others, and that doesn’t mean that we are the way we were, and that doesn’t mean that some days don’t take us too close to those places that madness lies.

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31 Responses to Most Days

  1. blueeyedtawni says:

    sometimes life i just dont understand.
    i remember when i had my tubal ligation in 1998 after my ty was born . i found out I was pregnant but ended up having a miscarriage.

    back then there wasnt support like there is now. and people can be cruel unintentional or not.

    grief can drive one a quiet insanity where only colors wash in jagged edges and people faces becomes distorted.

    ((((hugs you))))) I may not know the right words but i can offer hugs, a small minuscule of comfort to most.

  2. Martha says:

    The "What Ifs" is madness by pinpricks.

    In my experience, GPs are not always comfortable prescribing sleeping meds. Pyschiatrists/pyschologists usually are more experienced with symptom management for grieving.
    What an eff'ed up system.

  3. loribeth says:

    You sound a lot like me, Mrs. Spit. I tend not to show my emotions a lot, & when I do, it's not a big display. But grief must be expressed, one way or another. I thought I was doing OK after our third (last) injectable/IUI cycle failed — until the day I thought I was having a heart attack, which turned out to be an anxiety attack. I really did think I was losing my grip on sanity at that point, & it was a scary place to be in. My dr gave me a prescription for Ativan then. I was reluctant to use it, & wound up tossing most of the bottle out after a few years, but I was glad it was there when I needed it.

  4. Heather says:

    I remember the sleeplessness. On day 4 of my post-baby hospital stay I begged my ObGYN for something, anything, that would let me sleep. She gave me something with the disclaimer that these were the first sleeping pills she had prescribed in 20 years. I was so grateful for the few hours of nothingness they provided.

    I'm like you- later, life had to go on, there were things to be done and jobs to do. It's functional, most days, but that doesn't take away the sting when you're caught off guard and something bites. It's invisible to almost everyone, except us.

  5. Aunt Becky says:

    I'm here, Mrs. Spit.

  6. ScientistMother says:

    again I have no words. Only my prayers and support. and hugs. many many hugs.

  7. Heidi says:

    I see we are in the same place again. Friends who can't grasp the concept that we are still only hanging on by a thread. The thread is strong-you have Mr. Spit holding it tight.

    You are right madness lies at the end of many paths. What a wonderful way to put it.

    Sending you hugs right back. And peace.

  8. ..... Carmen says:

    I can't understand why you were told "you have to learn to cope" only 14 days after his death. My Aunt lost her daughter 2 years ago in an industrial accident. Their family is still coping. Probably always will. You never let that person go. They are part of you. A person like that shouldn't a 'professional'if they can't be, professional.

  9. Bluebird says:

    Oh wow. That’s it. That’s it exactly. I’m going to print this off for all my family.

    There have been so many things since our babies died that I have allowed myself to do – or not do. To think – or not think. Because I feared that if I were to do or think those things I would shatter into pieces and never be put back together again. It is in those places, down those pats that – to use your words – that the madness lies.

    Sometimes I am thankful for this control, this ability to sense the madness is down a certain path and to stop and not go there. I believe it is what has saved me; saved many of us. But I will admit that there are times – just times – when I wish I could give in and go to the madness. If for no reason other than to allow those around me to see that no. I am not okay.

  10. alicia says:


    not sure what to say…i am frustrated and sad for you, but so happy you have a positive outlook.

    more hugs

  11. Sam says:

    if I could just "scrouble" you up in a hug I would! (I know that's a totally made up word, but how else do I describe that arm enfolding, gathering, squeeze that says "hey")

  12. Hope's Mama says:

    Mrs Spit, can I just say, you are moving through this new life, the life you did not chose, with such wisdom and grace. It is such a pleasure to read here.

  13. Two Hands says:

    I'm with Hope's Mom. You do move through this with tremendous grace, even if it doesn't feel that way sometimes. I'm honoured to know you and to bear witness to a life which continues, in the face of unthinkable heartbreak, to glorify God in its honesty and courage.
    Much love and peace.

  14. Virginia says:

    I have lost it, gone into the madness, albeit briefly. At times I want to go back, but there is too much here, waiting for me.

    I remember going to a psychiatrist, actually, a few days after Ben died, and he first saw me and started to say, "You look like you're doing…" and was about to say "okay" when I burst into tears and he said, instead, "really lousy."

    He was very much a man and had no clue what to do with a hysterical woman in his office, but he tried. And gave me all the pills I needed.

  15. Reese says:

    I have been walking around with a slight buzzing lately, and I think you have described it perfectly. I am completely put together on the outside, but there is a need to scream, to hold my hands over my ears and scream. And I can see it, the people coming to drag me away, my co-workers talking among themselves, muttering 'she looked so good, we had no idea she was insane….'

    But I don't, because I feel I am not allowed, because I have a child now, because the world thinks I am healed.

    Somedays I am a better faker than others. Tonight, I am going to have a drink….

    Thinking of you—-

  16. jess says:

    {{Love you, Mrs Spit.}}

  17. Julia says:

    I sent JD and Monkey skiing a few weeks after A died. It was a trip that was in the works for a while, but the final arrangements weren't made until after. And yet, I told them to go. This was so that I could wail my heart out. I went into the room then, and I cried until I was exhausted. I think it was a very necessary thing for me to do.

    Your "friend" is an insensitive boob. And I think you should tell her(him?) exactly why you did not hear the announcement. Because she(he?) doesn't deserve your silence. It's not fair (and I am talking human terms now, not existential) that she(he?) gets to have a baby, a celebration, a cluelessly happy life, AND the ability to poke you right where it hurts without consequences.

    I am sorry.

  18. DysFUNctional Mom says:

    I think the fact that you do go on, and don't curl up in bed and allow the madness to come on, says much about your strength. I can't even imagine.

  19. Trish says:

    I'm sorry, my sweet. I wish I had something better to say.

  20. Sweet Camden Lass says:


  21. Donna says:

    Somedays if feels like the path to madness wiould be so easy to follow.

  22. Ya Chun says:

    yes, there is peace to be found by not letting your imagination carry you somewhere that reality doesn't let you go.

    and holidays don't help

  23. CLC says:

    You hit the nail on the head Mrs. Spit. It's too hard to go some places. I don't think anyone else gets that. I am so sorry that they don't. It only makes for feeling more alone.

  24. JamieD says:

    Beautifully written.

    Holding you in my heart . . .

  25. Candid Engineer says:

    Eloquence, as always, Mrs. Spit. Thinking of you, living your good, if not expected, life.

  26. Natalie says:

    Yes indeed. We look fine. People who don't know our stories would probably never guess. People who do know often forget. But it's always there, just right there under the surface.

  27. Sunny says:

    I can't even imagine. But I thank you for sharing with us, you have beautiful words. I am learning and feeling so much.

    I am so, so sorry for your loss. And for the idiocy of that stand-in GP.

  28. B says:

    Oh Mrs Spit. It's true and also not true. I wonder that I keep bouncing back from those places at the edge of sanity, and realise that perhaps the edge is further away then it seemed at the time.

    It is true though, the protest of "it's unfair" (well that is an understatement) leads nowhere good, despite its truth. I guess it is the reason I have let many friendships slide, cause I can't swallow the unfairness, it is easier to back away from dear friends then to be reminded of what should be, and what is for them. It also shakes my faith deeply (which perhaps exposes its original shallowness or lack of empathy – I'm not the first in the world to suffer) and my trust in others who do not understand the weight of this experience.

    I find all of that collateral rather sad, and thinking about it starts another round of "it's not fair". A cycle I obviously need to break,

    love to you and Mr Spit at this time. How could you possibly "miss" an announcement such as that?

    love B

  29. Sue says:

    Oh, Mrs. Spit… I am there. I thinking of you and trying, myself, not to lose it today.

    If one more otherwise sensitive friend or sister-in-law jokes about giving her kid away, or how glad she is to go to work so she can get some peace and quiet, I honestly don't know if I can hold back.

    The most recent was from a SIL, whose status on FB said "anyone want a three-year old who does (bad thing A) and (bad thing B)?" I SWEAR TO GOD it was all I could do not to respond with, "Sure, I'll take her." and just leave it at that.

    And her friends jokingly offer their little ones for trade with hers. How about two dead 18-month olds? Would that be a fair trade for your aggravating 3-year old?

    I don't want to hurt her, my SILs, my friends. Why should they watch what they say in case I'm reading? They have no idea of the impact. And I don't want to hurt them, inflict this on them, all the hurt and anger. That way lies madness, as you say.

    But oh, sometimes — not most days — but sometimes it is so hard to hold back.

    Thank you for sharing this. If you ever want to scream, or wail, I'll be there to join you. Unfortunately, I've got more practice than I'd like.

    Please take care.

  30. Tash says:

    I'm sorry I'm late to this.

    For a long time, the madness seemed to bubble right under my skin, and occasionally it got vomited up. Now it's more internal, but in a way that makes it a bit more scary — it's more likely to come out interwoven into words and thoughts, and I stand back and wonder, "Where did that come from?" There are some fine lines there between grief, depression, and madness. And sometimes I just have to believe that we're the sane ones who have the knowledge and it's the rest of the world who operates so blithely that's batshit.

  31. Kami says:

    It is because you are so polite that you don't respond with, "My baby died. Not everyone always greets baby announcements with joy" which is how I responded to such an announcement. Not surprisingly, we haven't corresponded since.

    I am sorry. I understand, I think, that sane facade. We go through our day and wonder why the world cannot see that we are dying inside.

    I used to be very much against taking drugs for any reason. Until death and IF struck. A night of sleep, a few hours break from feeling – it is well worth it.

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