Friday, April 30, 2010

Art Therapy

Do you remember when you were little, and you would play the "what do you want to be when you grow up?" game?

What did you want to be?

I wanted to be a comedian at one point. And a truck driver. A war correspondent. A writer. To me these were all things to strive for.

Now, I just want to be normal.

I want to be that mom who gets to complain that she has been up all night because of the baby, and not because she can't forget the way the baby died. I want to live in a world where spending the day with my child means laughter and playtime, not tears and a worn patch of grass. I just want to be what I always took for granted that I would be, a normal, happy, mom.

I was thinking about this the other day when I happened across this blog. Ironically, it was on the same day that I wrote my angry little post about facebook rubbing in just how far outside of normal that I am.

The blog is written by a BLM named Rachel, whose daughter Lyra was lost at 30 weeks to placental abruption this past December. As a means of processing her grief, Rachel has made a commitment to expressing herself creatively every day.

I am no artist. For me, having to draw a stick figure is a bit of a stretch, so to stumble across a blog like Rachel's, and see what I am feeling expressed so beautifully through art in a manner that I, myself, could never dream of expressing it, really spoke to me.

There were two pieces in particular that struck a chord with me. The first was this one titled "Left Behind."

For me, this piece really highlights the way that we babylost parents are made to feel like outsiders. When your child first dies, you are surrounded by crowds of family and friends who want to do everything they can to help. Masses of people call and send flowers. Folks come to be with you at the funeral, and hold your hand as your child is lowered into the ground. Then, just as quickly as the crowds appeared, they begin to drift away and resume life as usual, and you are stuck on pause, alone, staring at a mound of dirt and a plaque that used to be your child.

Grief (and infertility for that matter) makes it feel like the sun shines with ease on everyone but you. The world goes on but you can't. When you have been left behind in the world of babyloss, a black cloud seems to follow you wherever you go with reminders of what you no longer, and will never, have. Then, more than ever, you just wish that you could be normal.

For those who are normal, a visit to your side of the universe is a temporary, heartbreaking event. For those who are normal, it's possible to walk away from having witnessed something as tragic as a baby funeral, and to not look back. Their compassion is genuine, but the loss is not their's. They have the choice to go on holding their children. They can distance themselves from babyloss. They can do all of the things that those of us who have been left behind, cannot.

The second piece that really resonated with me was this one, called "The Weight Of It All."

I can relate to this figure, slumped over, trudging through that black cloud, wearing her grief like a heavy cloak that has been sewn into her being. It has changed her. Morphed her. Grown into her. This figure can never remove the weight that her grief has placed over her, and as hard as I try, neither can I.

What struck me first was how central the themes of loneliness and failure were to the piece, and how large a portion of Lyra's mommy's grief revolved around these feelings.

Justified or not, the sense of failure is something that weighs many of us in the loss/infertility world down, and with those feelings comes a greater sense of loneliness.

Whether due to self isolation, or feeling left behind by others, loneliness and failure can be two of the heaviest burdens of grief. When I lost Peyton the sense of failure overwhelmed me. I had failed to bring a healthy child into this world. I had failed to save her life. Once infertility was added to the mix, my sense of failure mushroomed. Not only had I lost my first child, I had failed to create a second.

Seeing this piece offered me some validation for how I was feeling, that even though what I am going through might not be normal by society's standards, for those of us living through these very abnormal circumstances, they are.

Thank you Rachel, for allowing me to discuss what I drew from these pieces, and for expressing yourself in such a profound and relatable way.

***Side Note***
The pieces above are copyrighted material. I was granted permission by the artist to re-post them here. If you would like to re-post or copy them, please contact the artist first for permission. Thanks :)


  1. When I grew up, I wanted to be a ballerina (@4yrs), an artist (@6yrs), and Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes (at 7yrs-present). Well, at present I'm also hoping to be a normal person too. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and connections with my pieces. I appreciate you so. Thinking of you and Peyton daily.

  2. Such amazing pieces of art. I completely relate to those feelings of failure - my baby died inside me, how on earth could I not feel like I'd failed.

    A very true post.

  3. wow I just came across your blog... I am so sorry for your loss!! Peyton is beautiful!! I to lost a little one Oct of 08 he was born with a rare neuromuscular condition. They never were able to identify it before he passed. What amazing art work!! Sending many hugs to you!

  4. As my tears are falling for you, I just wanted to let you know that your writing is amazing--I could never put into words such depth of feeling and insight as you do.

    Yes, the drawings are powerful, but when combined with your words the impact is magnified ten-fold. My heart breaks for you--I pray for you each time I check your blog.

  5. I wish I had some kind of artistic outlet for my grief. I really liked those drawings. Thinking of you. *hugs*

  6. i had someone say to me once ' its ok anne, you're a grieving mother' so i guess thats what i grew up to be, certainly not what i had in mind though. i love curls work and yes the two you chose resonate with me also , warm hugs, anne xxx

  7. Oh gosh! That first piece literally took my breath away. Like a dagger right through me...that picture completely wraps up just about every feeling I have right now in one picture. Amazing. Just amazing.
    Thinking of you!

  8. Amazing artwork and I definitely identify with some of the emotions you talk about.

  9. Those are amazing pieces. The first piece especially struck a chord with me. I have not suffered through the loss you have experienced, but had battled infertility for almost 8 years and I so relate to the feelings of being left behind.

  10. Her pieces made me cry. She got it exactly. Everything we feel, encompassed in one painting boldly displayed with startling clarity.
    You also got it right. Being left alone in our grief, feeling guilt and sadness is overwhelming and weighing.
    Thank you for posting the paintings. Their beauty and truth left me speechless.

  11. I could imagine myself in each of those pieces. They are amazing.

  12. Thank you for verbalizing your feelings about loss and grief and infertility. I too long to be "normal." Those paintings were beautiful.

  13. You are SO not a failure. You are really, really, really, a success. I promise you, more than you know.

    One day you are going to look back on how many people you have reached with your beautiful blog, and realise it.


  14. Here's sending a hug and a wish for you to feel "normal" someday soon. And a very, very Happy Mother's day to you, from afar.
    Blessings to you