Avoiding the 'Jelly Mould'
people who lose a baby also lose their confidence - it's hardly
surprising that when one of our most basic functions doesn't
function 'correctly' we start to question everything, and
lose confidence both in the world around us and ourselves.
To be suddenly faced with the very new, very frightening and
very unfamiliar feelings of being a bereaved parent is so
outside our experience and, usually, the experiences of those
around us. No-one knows what to expect and the tendency is
to greatly underestimate both the strength and the duration
of our feelings, so that what is known to the more knowledgeable
as very normal may seem both to the bereaved and their associates
as gross over-reaction. At this time we often feel 'jelly
-like', quivering and formless and so uncertain of ourselves,
especially our feelings and reactions, that we may tend to
rely on those around us to show what is and is not appropriate.
It's easy for them to make a mould into which we slide, so
that to outward appearance we are the people that others want
us to be. Someone coping, someone positive, a confident forward-looking
person who is unlikely to cause distress by harking back to
that 'incident' which by now they are surely almost over.
Unfortunately, the 'little' person inside may still be unhappy,
Uncertain confused and perhaps frightened. Added to that is
the frustration of not feeling allowed to show that person
to the outside world, and guilt because, being so unsure,
we can't be certain whether our feelings are valid or whether
we should be feeling as others obviously expect us to.
friends and family, however close previously and however hard
they try, rarely have a full idea of how bad we can feel,
partly because we don't share our full feelings, especially
those that seem inappropriate, wrong, or even wicked. To think,
even momentarily, when exasperated with the disturbed behaviour
of an unhappy toddler "The wrong one died" causes
such shame and guilt it can't be shared. To look at a pregnant
woman and think, however fleetingly, "I wish it would
happen to you, so you know what it feels like" again
makes one feel so guilty, almost wicked, it must be kept secret.
To wonder resentfully why your young babe should die when
some aged relative thrives seems such an unspeakably wrong
thought it has to be kept hidden, yet both these and many
other "unacceptable" reactions are so natural, although
probably only fully understood by those who've felt the same.
may also seem bizarre; the familiar cradling of the baby that
isn't there, or the instinctive response to the cry of that
babe, whom you may never have heard cry, may make you feel
you are going mad. That fear, along with the other strong
emotions, is too scary to share with those who may be alarmed
by them. By now it is realised that although many reactions
and feelings are very typical and shared by most bereaved
parents, others are totally individual but that does not make
them wrong. People react to crises according to their development
up to that point - their whole history, including the experience
around the loss of their baby is so totally their own that
it would be very unusual to find any two people reacting in
exactly the same way. This can cause problems if you expect
your partner to react as you do - it is a quite unrealistic
expectation. For even though the baby belonged to both of
you, and you remained together throughout the experience so
that your loss may appear to be the same, you are each individual
with different life experiences both before and during this
most major event.
you may be reassured by talking to your befriender and other
Sands members, that the way you feel in the months and years
after baby loss are normal and although no one can stop your
fear or guilt about those feelings. NO ONE has that right
or power, I would urge you to have confidence in your feelings
and say this is the way I feel. These are my feelings. No-one
has the right to tell me they are wrong, for they are mine
and I'm entitled to feel as I dot.. Try to avoid being squeezed
into a mould made by others - it may become very tight and
when it eventually shatters, as it must, the emergence of
long-established but newly expressed feelings can be quite
traumatic for all concerned.'