Writer-Counselor-Wellbeing Coach

Category: Grief (Page 1 of 4)

Fear, COVID, Sacrifices

A friend shared this article which speaks of the author's loss of her husband and her baby and how her ongoing mourning helps her see the current pandemic through a different lens.    These words from the article specifically spoke to me today:

In our fear of death we simply do not want to think about what happens after our loved ones die. But we must. We seem to be willing, in our understandable terror, to trade away many essential things: basic freedoms, our public life and public institutions for the promise of greater safety from sickness and death, but when that sickness and death come anyway (as it must), what will we do when we find we have made the world worse than it otherwise might have been? If we trade the beauty and order of our society for safety, not only will we find we have lost our dear ones anyway, we will sit and mourn them in a desolate land of our own making.

I have spent many anxious days thinking about families in isolation, older people living alone, scared, separated and maybe even living their last weeks or months away from those who love them.    I have wondered if the trade off is worth it.  Of course I don't want people to be dying from this terrible virus.  I also don't want those I love and care for to be alone and scared and just biding time until (in the case of the elderly) they ultimately die anyway.  That doesn't seem okay.

So it does beg the question, 'what are we most afraid of?'

I am more afraid that my husband or one of my children, or parents, or grandchildren will get this virus and die in a hospital without me there.   I am most afraid that as they struggle in last weeks, days or minutes, that there won't be a truly loving hand on theirs, whispered words of comfort and assurance that their lives were worth living.

I am more afraid of what this fear is doing to our children as they must remain apart from extended family and now in many places see only strange faces as even those of friends are covered in masks.

I am also afraid of becoming sick and finding myself in a hospital where I am unable to say all the important things to those who can't be by my side and to reassure them that all will be well even if it won't.

BobbyIn three days we mark the anniversary of my step-son Bobby's death.  I write a little about Bobby here.

During Bobby's illness I had a strong faith.   God was a palpable presence in my life.  People all over the world began a prayer chain for him and for us.  I prayed always for a miracle, but mostly for God's will and the courage and strength to endure it as I knew on the day I saw his first x-ray that Bobby would die.  I'd worked in oncology for a number of years.  I knew the statistics on this kind of cancer.  Mostly I just knew.   I also knew that in spite of this knowledge, I was to pray for a miracle and accept the outcome.  It sounds now like such a contradiction but at the time I just did it.  It was a double-edged sword to know the ending.   In many ways I thought that if only I did 'enough' I could make him better.   I also knew that it was right to spend every moment with him, that we wouldn't have a long lifetime of moments and that we needed to make these ones count.

So what are we doing now with all those from whom we are now separated in fear that we or they may die? Is it worth the sacrifice of the moments?  If we had a sure faith that there was something better to follow would it make a difference?

I wish for the sure faith I had that somehow left me years ago.  Perhaps it would make the enduring easier.  Perhaps it would change my own priorities in how I spend my time.


We are missing the point about Michelle

Michelle Williams speech at the 2020 Golden Globe awards has sparked much debate among abortion advocates and prolife communities, the former applauding her courage and decision making, and the latter vilifying and condemning her.

This condemnation and hostility is disappointing given the compassion and support toward women that could be extended, and is professed to be extended by prolife groups. Let's break down what Michelle says.

"To choose when to have my children and with whom, when I feel supported and able to balance our lives...'

Given what we know about the reasons women have abortion, this should have alerted those who understand the lives and decisions of women to the actual issue:

"When I feel supported"

Most women have abortions because they lack resources, whether financial, material, or relational, to continue a pregnancy.  They have abortions because they are taught from an early age that to be successful they must strive for education, career advancement and they must not under any circumstances allow unwanted children to interrupt the path they set before them.

When a woman experiences an unintended pregnancy she get messages such as 'it's YOUR decision' and 'you will have to choose' and 'if you have this baby you will pretty much be on your own'.

It is as though the pregnant woman is isolated from all potential supports or encouragement and isn't even allowed to consider the ways she might be helped to continue a pregnancy.  In fact, such help seeking would be a sign of weakness, a vulnerability at an already vulnerable time that can feel very unsafe.   Few women hear the ways in which they can continue a pregnancy and NOT be alone, but be supported to still pursue other paths, achieve great things, and not carry the burden alone. Worse in some ways are the messages I still see among many prolife groups that demonstrate concern only for the baby a woman carries and not for woman as they promote the removal of her baby after birth as a way to meet her needs.

They are not hearing it now from all those busy judging and condemning Michelle Williams and such hostility will be no encouragement for any woman to feel that she can share her grief or regret after abortion, a not uncommon, but largely silenced experience.

Another interesting and revealing statement by Michelle was this.

"...when it is time to vote please do so in your own self-interest. It's what men have been doing for years, which is why the world looks much like them...'

This statement also typifies the largely negative attitudes that men live with today, that they are self-interested and without care and concern for women.  Interestingly the blame for how the world looks is laid at their feet instead of at the foot of the feminist movement that has driven the abortion discourse based on 'women have to be like men in order to achieve'.

The best and most efficient way to do that was to control women's bodies, their biology, so that they 'fit' the way society operated.  In doing so, they have perpetuated a society that just makes it harder for women to experience true choice.  The world looks much like men because feminists told women they had to BE like men.  They held men up as the ideal and said 'what do we need to do to be like that' instead of saying, 'how do we need to change society to meet women's needs'.

I wrote about this here

How did it happen that women led the charge to freedom by telling each other that there are no sacred ties; that the only way to have all that men had was to give up all that women had?    How is it that women attributed so much greater value to men’s worlds that they not only willingly gave up the value of their own, but now they encourage other women to do the same no matter what the cost?   How is it that we lost touch with the strength and value of ourselves as women and allowed these to be labelled and demeaned as weakness?

 Now we have a society where women are uninformed about the potential grief and trauma following abortion, yet still lack the structure that will support them in different decisions.  We live in a society dominated by one acceptable thought regarding the issue of abortion that denies women access to information, resources and supports to exercise any actual right they should have to their own free decision-making.

What are you doing to create actual change rather than sitting in judgement on all those women (and men) just doing what the dominant message tells them is 'best'?





Human trafficking dressed up as beautiful adoption

The 14yr old's perspective

Imagine being 13yrs old living on the street because you ran away from an abusive home, used for sex by men who see you as an object to do with whatever they please while money changes hands and you barely get to eat. But the man who takes that money puts a roof over your head most nights and looks out for you to make sure you are at least relatively safe... within reason of course.  A few bruises here and there are part of the fun for some of the men, but it isn't good for business if they are allowed to go too far.

At barely 14, and 6 months pregnant you are arrested for soliciting on the street.  You are given an option to go to a maternity home where, you are told, you will be cared for until you have your baby.   You arrive and are welcomed with fresh clothes, a comfortable bed, people who tell you how wonderful you are.   You experience hope for the first time in a long time.  Maybe your life can actually be different.  Maybe you can even keep your baby with the help of all these people who seem so kind and caring.  Maybe it won't be all that bad to have your baby live with that nice couple who gushed all over you.  After all they promised you could visit as often as you want.  You'll still kind of be the baby's mother and you'll have a reason to pull your life together.. to make your new little daughter proud of you, and then maybe you'll even be able to get her back one day, or maybe even move in with them.   The couple seem so kind, perhaps they would be happy to help you both.

You have a long, scary and painful labour, finally giving birth to an actual baby.   An actual baby girl.  You hold her, marvelling at everything about her.  She has the biggest eyes, you see yourself in those eyes.  She cries and you want to nurse her but the social worker who sits beside you says it isn't a good idea.  It will make it harder to let her go.   You feel panic.  Let her go?  Of course, you have to let her go.  You ask, hesitantly... do I really have to? 

Your social worker reminds you that the baby's parents are right next door waiting for her.  You agreed.  You can't let them down. Where would you live with your baby?   Doesn't she deserve better than to be back on the street?  How would  you take care of her?  She tells you how brave you are.  What a good thing you are doing.  What a wonderful life your little girl will have.    You'll be able to see her remember.  She'll only be a few hours away by bus.   You'll have photos, you'll know how loved she is.

You don't want to let her go, not for a second.  You wonder why it is that there isn't someone who wants to help take care of you so you can take care of your baby, but of course the couple only want the baby.  And you did agree.

The social worker is right.  You can't take your baby onto the street with you.  In fact she said you probably wouldn't be allowed to.  The baby would be taken anyway, but this time she would go to foster parents and you know what foster parents can be like.  That's what you ran from.

You stare at the nurses, willing them to help you.  "You are brave.  You are selfless." they tell you.   You are a loving mother.  You sign your child away forever.  

You return to before.  The only way you can ever visit your baby is if you can get enough money to cover the bus fare each way and you want to be able to stay over so you can have a proper visit.  The only way to do that is to go back.   Now you put up with the men because the men are the means to seeing your baby.

You catch the bus and arrive to visit your beautiful baby girl.  It has been 9 weeks.  She has grown so much.  The couple look at you strangely.  You realised you're a bit messed up looking.  You had a shower, but you didn't have shampoo.   Maybe they will offer you to stay there for the night so you can snuggle your little girl.  But they don't.   In fact, they tell you they only have an hour because they are on the way out to a family event.  They tell you how grateful they are.   The baby cries.  You ache to hold her, to comfort her.  But the couple take her from your arms, they say she needs a nap.  You watch her leave the room.  You ask if you can come back the next day.  They look at each other.  They tell you they are busy, that maybe next time they will have more time for a longer visit. 

You know they are lying.

The nurse's perspective:

"I'm a nurse that works in a birthplace.  I've witnessed several adoptions. I've held biological moms as they cry and I tell them how brave and selfless they are.  I've also handed an adoptive parent their newborn and said "Meet your daughter/son". This is by far the most magical moment. There is not a dry eye in the room when this happens. I am a huge proponent of adoption."


"I do believe open adoptions are the best for the child in the long run but that is not always possible of wanted. I see many situations in the birthplace, many types of families and difficult situations.  I've taken care of 14 year olds that are homeless, that have no family support and are sleeping on their pimp's couch.. when he lets her..  and yes we involved social services but I think a child put in that situation if going to have a lot more trauma in their life than being raised by parents that have longed for a child for years.

Adoption is beautiful... that is my opinion."

These last 2 quotes are real.  The story of the 13/14yr old is made up, but has come from true stories.  It may be the real story of one of the 14 year olds mentioned by the nurse.   Or maybe the real stories are even worse.

What I want to know is how this isn't simple child trafficking?   How does a 14yr old who can't even 'choose' whether she gets a couch to sleep on, or whether multiple  men rape her each day, 'choose' to sign a contract relinquishing her newborn baby?

How can any decent human being see anything beautiful in such a tragedy?   Maybe this is an extreme adoption story, but maybe not.  It is clear that most adoptions are not freely chosen, but are the desperate decision of mothers with few resources who are groomed to believe that adoption is braver, more selfless, more loving than parenting.  How can any woman hold a new baby in her arms and feel 'happy' that she has severed that baby from the only person he/she knows and longs for?  How can she ignore the grief and trauma of the woman who carried and birthed this baby? 

The nurse quoted above is from the USA where adoption occurs at a much higher rate than in Australia, is privatised, and couples and agencies advertise looking for 'birth mums' to fill the need of infertile couples.   For those advocating more adoption in Australia, is this what you want?  Because this is where you will end up if we continue to talk about the 'tragedy' of low adoption numbers, or worse still the long waiting lists that prospective adoptive parents must endure.  

There is no entitlement to children.  We can't allow this to take a foothold here.




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