Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Cemetery


It's maybe a mile from where I'm sitting now... I chose this specific therapy location not because it's closest to our house, but because it's close to those rolling green hills that just a year and a half ago meant nothing to us. Two days a week, I'm so close.

At first, I wanted to go there. I mean, as much as a mother can want to go to a place like that. For whatever reason, I felt a need to be there. To go and talk to her and make sure that as often as possible someone was there for her. At first, if I could have made sure that someone was there every day, I would have.

But lately, my feelings towards that place have changed. I hate to think it, I hate to say it- it feels like the words burn my mouth. But lately, it feels like an obligation. The amount of guilt that accompanies this thought and feeling is indescribable. What kind of mother feels like it's an obligation to go visit the place where her daughter rests?
I used to feel like I had to go there to feel close to Ellie. But I don't feel like that anymore. I've always felt that her spot is just where her body is, it's not Ellie there. The Ellie that we loved disappeared from a PICU room on October 24th, 2010. Sometimes, I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea that it's really her body in that casket anyways. The baby that was in the casket when it was closed, did not even resemble our sweet girl... Her happiness, her joy and her sweetness are not buried in the ground.

It might sound weird or even a little hippie, but I really believe that the essence of our Ellie left her damaged little body and spread itself out into the world. And we see little pieces of it all around us...

We see her beautiful face in the pink and purple sunsets and sunrises.

We are reminded of her little attitude whenever a light burns out in our house- which it does quite often!

We see her joy and sweetness reflected in the kindness of others who so willingly contribute to Ellie's Light, and by those strangers who reach out and let us know that Ellie will not be forgotten.

Ellie isn't here anymore, but she is all around us. She is on my mind all day, every day. And lately, the cemetery just serves as a reminder of what we are missing. It's so obvious in our every day life and I don't like going to the cemetery and staring down at a beautiful headstone that bears my daughter's name.
Surviving the loss of a child is a conscious decision. Every day you have to choose to keep going on. And for me, that's easier to do if I focus on the happy memories and reminders of who Ellie was and what she is still doing even now as an angel. I really feel like going to the cemetery only sets me back.

Am I in a little bit of denial? Possibly. Am I trying to protect myself from things that I don't want to think about? Definitely. Is it selfish? I'm not sure...

I really don't think Ellie cares that I don't go to the cemetery as much. I still take care of her spot and make sure that decorations are placed for each holiday, but I don't just go out there anymore. It's a hard thing to put into words... I want to want to go out there- for Ellie. But I don't feel like I need to. There's a lot of guilt... It's hard to be at that place with that headstone that bears her name, but it's hard not to be there too...

As time goes on, I'm sure my feelings towards the cemetery will evolve. And hopefully, eventually, I can come to a place of peace about whatever feels right... Either way, whether I'm there or not, I miss my girl. I love her. And I am constantly thinking of her...

11 comments:

Tiffany said...

((hugs)) i understand how guilty you must feel. i think grief is ever evolving. so it's understandable that something that may bring you peace and comfort, may one day feel like a weight/obligation. but you should never think that your love for your daughter is any less. it's just that that ritual no longer holds the meaning it once did. and that's ok. we have enough to deal with without adding extra guilt on top of it. Ellie wouldn't want you to make yourself any sadder. i know it. she exuded happiness and love. and you are right, she is always all around you. there is no 1 place that contain that awesome spirit of hers. sending you lots of love...

Kelly said...

Big hugs. I totally get it. I burn a candle every night at 8:45, the time Adam died. I've done it every night since he passed. Lately it's been feeling like an obligation, an annoyance sometimes. I've thought about not doing it anymore. Then I feel horrible that I'm annoyed with getting up off the couch for 5 seconds to light a candle. Like somehow Adam will be mad at me if I stop.

And I also think that Adam's spirit left his body and that he really isn't present in the cremated remains. After he died in the hospital, he was bathed, and then we spoke to a medical examiner for like 3 hours. They left Adam's body in the same room with us while we did this. When we wrapped up and went to say good-bye again, I felt this overwhelming feeling like Adam was gone. His body was right there, but he was gone. It's a feeling I can't describe, and I know only other BLMs could understand.

Sending you love. <3

ccc said...

I have to admit that I too have been feeling this way. You said it perfectly-obligation. I think I have been too afraid to say that word out loud or even in type..you are more honest and courageous than I.
On one hand I think--what kind of mother am I to not do it?-and on the other hand, I think that it evokes all types of thoughts that I do not want in my mind right now. Not that I want to forget him, but how does visiting where his body is help his memory? When I go to the cemetery I am transported to Oct 2010 and I don't like Oct 2010.

Kelly said...

I know I already commented, but I wanted to say thank you for posting this. I was feeling like a terrible mother for the whole candle thing. I'm happy I'm not alone.

Maxie's Mommy said...

Agreed. I think about going to visit my Maxie. The cemetery is 5 minutes from our house. When I go, I set myself back 100s of days. I am already so fragile, I just don't do it....for now. At some point, I hope to start going again. Thank you for posting exactly what i am feeling. Max is with me...not buried in a casket under the ground.

Ashley said...

I could have so written this. Its crazy how I have felt this exact way. I hope eventually the guilt will go away because I do believe that Beckett doesn't care whether I visit his grave or not...cause I think about him every second!

Thinking of you always ((Hugs))

Robin said...

It is nothing you should feel guilty about. It sounds like you are entering a new place in your grief, and thats ok. You used to feel good to go there a lot...now your feelings have changed. There is nothing wrong with that. Your love for Ellie will never be measured by how often you go to her spot. You know Sweet Ellie is with you, not in the ground. You are a wonderful mom, we can all see that. You need not feel guilty for taking great care of her spot and only going there on certain days. Ellie doesn't care. What matters to her is how her family is keeping her memory alive. You all have so many ways you have done that and continue to do that. She is proud of you all, I can guarantee that.

Natasha said...

I understand that guilt. I can relate to so much of what you've written here. I often feel guilty when I enjoy myself too much or when I don't feel like crying every day. Guilt for the change in my grief. But I think everyone is exactly right when they say that grief is ever evolving. I truly believe that I will never stop grieving Aiden just like you will never stop grieving Ellie. It's just that our grief changes. We move into a different space, a different phase. We learn how to live with our grief. But it's always there. Because the love we have for them is always there.

You shouldn't feel guilty for anything. We have so much on our hearts and minds as it is because we are BLMs. You are an amazing mom to all your children and I know Ellie loves you and is with you no matter where you are. You have done amazing things in Ellie's name and I know she looks down on you with a huge smile every day!

Oh and I love the thought of Ellie's essence spreading itself around the world. That's just beautiful ♥

LauraJane said...

I believe Ellie is all around. I don't like to think that Jack exists only in the ashes on our dresser, but instead in our hearts and in our memories. I remember thinking the EXACT same thing at the hospital - that he didn't even look (or weigh) anything like the little boy I had birthed just a week earlier... That he was already gone, and that it was okay.

I hate that you feel like you have to visit Ellie's grave out of obligation. It certainly indicates a shift in your place in grief, but I really don't think Ellie would take it as a slight in the least if you decided not to visit as frequently anymore. I have seen you celebrate and honour her in so many ways in the year or so I have "known" you, and she would love that. I'm sure she would much rather be remembered for those happy times than where her earthly remains lie.

xox

Deanna said...

I shared with a friend a little while back that for the first year, I went to the cemetery every day, really every day. Midnight, 3am? I didn't care, I went there. I had to. The last year has been much more sporadic and I don't feel like I have to go there all of the time anymore.

Grief changes us, and over time grief changes. It's normal and does not mean our love has changed at all. I see our children all over the place. Sunsets, flowers, butterflies, water, everywhere they are.

Love you, Tiffany!

Kim said...

I have these same feelings, too. I feel guilty if I don't visit my daughters' grave enough, but I know how much they are in my heart and on my mind and that is what matters most. I remind myself of that often when I'm feeling guilty for not being there enough. Thank you for sharing your feelings. Thinking of you.

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