Thursday, March 22, 2012

Chicken :p


My division at work had a "town hall" meeting this afternoon, preceeded by a "networking" session.

The guest speakers at the town hall were representatives from our company's philanthropic program -- and prior to the meeting, we received an e-mail, which contained this line (edited):
"As a warm up to the presentation, take advantage of the networking session and talk about a recent volunteer experience, or a charity that you support, with your colleagues. "
So!! -- Who wants to hear about MY 10 years of volunteering -- with a pregnancy loss support group for bereaved parents -- or just how I wound up doing that??

Those closest to me at work, who were there at the time, knew about the group, of course. There may still be a few around who, if prodded, might remember. But as time went on & people left, fewer and fewer knew the full story behind my vague excuses about "other commitments" when everyone else would go for after-work drinks on Thursdays (party night downtown).

I can remember, once, early on, screwing up my courage to approach my coworkers for pledges for a fundraiser I was participating in to benefit the group. (Lord knows I've chipped in for umpteen Jump Rope for Hearts, danceathons, Relays for Life, etc., for THEIR kids.)

"You're STILL doing that?" one woman said to me with a quizzical look.

It was barely nine months after my daughter's stillbirth. Ummm, yes, we're STILL doing "that." Wonder what she would say if she knew we were STILL doing it, 9 years later too. ; )

Dh encouraged me to go to the networking session this afternoon, to speak up about our work, to be proud of what we did.

I AM proud of what we did in the group. I AM proud of my daughter. I would love nothing more than to be able to speak freely about her, about the amazing courage and strength of the dozens of parents dh & I met over those 10 years.

But.

It's hard. Still. Almost 14 years later. Knowing the likely reaction. Watching the dawning horror in people's eyes.

Volunteering with children, or for breast cancer or at a child's school, or at an animal shelter, or even a women's shelter, is viewed with approval. People want to know more about it.

Dead babies and grieving parents, on the other hand, just aren't as readily acceptable as topics of polite conversation (nevermind in the workplace). Still. It's something that people don't want to hear more about. (If they don't hear about it, they can pretend that it doesn't happen.)(Even if -- odds being what they are -- a sizeable chunk of the people in that room either could have used the group's services at some point in their past, or will need them in the future.)

So... I'm sorry to say -- I chickened out. :( I just couldn't do it. (What probably sealed the deal was being privy to New Grandma Coworker's daily call to her new-mom daughter to get the daily baby report.) I hid in my cubicle as others drifted off to the networking session -- and then joined them just before the actual meeting started a half hour later.

I didn't dwell on the fact that, exactly 14 years ago today, I took a home pregnancy test -- and watched in amazement as two blue lines immediately popped into view. But that was probably a reason too.

8 comments:

  1. Hugs, Loribeth. I can completely understand the reasons why you didn't. I'm these days quite happy to talk about ectopic pregnancy - but I never quite know when my emotions are going to get the better of me (if I'm feeling sad anyway, if I'm tired, rundown, sick, hormonal etc) and I hate that.

    Oh - and over 10 years since my first ectopic, I'm still helping out at the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust. I actually think at this stage (10 years on) people might be more prepared to understand that it's something we're committed too, rather than a passing whim due to grief. (I cannot believe that woman said "Still" to you only 9 months later).

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  2. Oh hon -- my heart is with you for the anniversary.

    I don't see that as chickening out. Chickening out is when YOU desperately want to do it, but you're too scared so you beat yourself up for not being able to get over your fears. Whereas in this case, someone else wanted you to do it. Someone else came up with the idea to talk about it. That would be like someone coming up to me and telling me to go bungee jump. If I didn't do it, it wouldn't be because I was chicken. It would be because someone else was making decisions about things that affect me emotionally in my life. Subtle difference.

    So I think it was more that you made a choice of what worked best for you in the moment. In another time and place -- like here -- you talk about Katie. And we're all grateful to listen.

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  3. Sending huge hugs. It's an anniversary of a wonderful moment... at that exact moment, (and regardless of the events that followed). Those events that followed make you the wonderful, caring, sensitive woman that you are. So I am abiding with you on this day. Here, this is your space to be honest and open and to talk about Katie among friends. We love and support you.

    I confess, it would have been tough for me to do too. But I don't see it as chickening out. You're simply doing what is right for you at the time. Nothing wrong with that.

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  4. You didn't chicken out. It just wasn't the right audience. - Heather

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  5. Ah, hun (*hugs*)

    I don't think you chickened out. Sometimes it's the right time to talk about these things, and sometimes it's not. I understand why you turned it down.

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  6. Protecting your heart is not chickening out. Sometimes it's too hard, and that's ok. But let me just say that volunteering to help bereaved parents survive those early months/years is beautiful and selfless and amazing volunteer work. It's a gift that you and Katie have given to many people for many years, and whether you feel like talking about it or not, it's definitely something to be proud of.

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  7. You've been volunteering to help bereaved parents - there's no shame in that - the fact that it makes people uncomfortable - should not cause you to remain silent. In fact, by "coming out of the closet" so to speak, you never know how much you can help another person. And you may end up liberating yourself in a way. When the time is right, you'll know it.

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  8. Huge hugs! I can only imagine how hard it would be to stand up and talk about this. You have to do what is best for you. I think it is so awesome that you moderated this group for so long, but talking about such things in front of mixed groups of people.

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