Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Relatable Honesty

Yesterday I watched the second part of James Frey on Oprah. He was the guy who wrote "A Million Little Pieces" and marketed it as a memoir and he actually embellished and fabricated many parts of the book. It was a big controversy about 5 years ago because Oprah picked his book as a book club book and defended him on Larry King etc...

Anyway most of the interview was on what that time of his life was like taking the heat and whether Oprah was too hard on him when he came back to answer what was true or not on her show.

I have said before on this blog how much I dislike lies and how I have a hard time with people who always embellish or just lie about things. So I have never really been a big fan of Mr. Frey and I have never read his Million Little Pieces book.

But during the interview Oprah brought up the fact that in 2007 James and his wife lost a child. I could feel his heart tightening as he spoke briefly about his son Leo who was born with SMA which is incurable and fatal. One of my angel mom friends had a little girl named Mia who also had this. Mr. Frey and his wife had no clue their son was not healthy until after he was born.

As he spoke about his son I could see and feel the emotions he was feeling. It is not an easy thing to talk publicly about your child who has passed away. Oprah asked him if his son's death put things into perspective for him. He said it did. He said that as bad and hard as the public scrutiny over the Million Little Pieces scandal was it wasn't even in the top 200 of the bad days of him life. Then gave examples of what really "bad days" are like the day your child dies, or the day you plan his funeral. And he said the hundreds of days after that ... those are rough days.

After that Oprah asked something where she referred to the time after he recovered from that loss. He didn't answer her question. Instead he said, "I don't think you ever recover from something like that." I am not sure that is a direct quote but he went on to say that he has recovered from lots of things in his life but the death of a child isn't something you "recover" from.

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to someone about this blog and how I wrote my feelings out. She offered that they were my "edited feelings" and it made me think about how much my feelings are edited here. I told her I do not think my feelings are very edited on here. I mean they are expressed in a way I like to see them. And of course I don't write every emotion every time because I just don't have the time to do that. But I believe this blog holds a true sampling of the feelings I have felt over the last three years.

And listening to Mr. Frey I thought it would be good to record my thoughts about his statement about never recovering. Because I think some people may think that I have "recovered" or that I feel "recovered." I cheered when Mr. Frey corrected Oprah on that point. Because I agree. But as often is the case, it all comes down to how you define "recover."

The way I define it and I think Mr. Frey meant it is that you never "get over" the loss of child. There is never a time when that loss stops hurting or that spot in your heart isn't tender to the touch. It is just like the article I posted a link to when my grief was fresh said. The piano of grief that has landed on the stage of your life never leaves the stage. It just becomes incorporated into the play or pushed to the background.

But I do feel whole again - forever altered, but whole. I do not have physical pain about my loss everyday anymore and I do not even feel sad about it everyday in that same searing way. But I do still think about Camille everyday. I do still miss her everyday. And I do still have times when I feel the waves of grief and the shock and loss feel fresher in my mind and heart. In those times, it is hard to breathe. I have to round up my mind back to the place where I can be back in the present and remind myself that I am okay.

These waves don't last hours, usually I can ride them out in a few minutes these days. And they don't come every day or every week. But they have been coming a bit more frequently as summer comes around. Tis the season.

So, at least for me, that is my truth. I am glad Mr. Frey made the correction so others can see better understand what this grief is like. It is good that others know that losing a child is not something to "get over" or "recover" from. It is something you learn to deal and live with. You learn how to keep the show of your life progressing on the stage despite the presence of the piano. And in the best cases you learn and grow because of it. In the best cases you learn to play new and beautiful music.


Karm said...

And I would add "move on" from...the pain yes...slowly, gradually but, not the love, the beautiful wonderful memories, the thoughts of and the talking about. I lost my one an only sibling a few years ago, A Sister, my best friend in the world. She died due to complications after the birth of her 5th child. Recently, my brother-n-law made this statement to my Mom, "we have had to move on so should you all." I've struggled with that statement in so many ways. My mother wasn't greiving for my sister in any unhealthy way only holding on to her memories and reminiscing with her grandchildren. The biggest thing I have learned through my experience with death is that we all greive and heal in our completely own individual ways and that it is so very important to respect that. (I planned to be brief but these things just spilled out) Thanks for listening but even more thanks for how you've shared your has been a light of peace, understanding and hope in my life :) So thankful for the strength of those who share my beliefs.

angee said...

Amen! Yes, grief changes, but you never "get over" or "recover from" the loss of a child. My mom lost a son 22 years ago. She says she thinks about him every day (as do I, as his sister). There are moments, like her friend losing a baby or her own grandchild being in the NICU hanging on for life, when she says the past comes completely back, and she remembers and feels every moment. You tell me. 22 years later. Is she "over it?!" Has she "recovered?" Yes, she has found joy again. Yes, she has been healed. But you don't just "move on," even years and years later. Thank you for this post. I think it's something people need to hear and understand. You have such a way with words.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. I had a baby boy about two weeks after you did this year, and he follows his older brother who died last year mid-pregnancy. I have had a way harder time bonding with him than I did with his big sister, and it has troubled me that this has been the case - even though I really wanted another boy after our loss. Your comment made it clear to me that my numbness was an invisible barrier that I hadn't let go of and that it is okay for me to feel that I don't have to necessarily "recover" from my first son's loss to enjoy this new good fortune.

Evanstown said...

Amen. Beautifully put.

Chelsa said...

beautifully said. i whole-heartedly agree!

cynphil6 said...


Lena Baron said...

Yes Stephanie, Thank You! This also reminds some of us not to pretend that we have recovered. Sometimes it's easier to just shrug it off in a passing conversation. But in reality, I think it feels better in the end to have a plan about what to say ahead of time when the subject of your loss comes up. Not just, "ah, it's been a long time I'm okay..."

Thanks again for the reminder!

Diana said...

Very well put, thank you for sharing!