The Thing I Didn’t Tweet About

Last Friday, Dan, the children, and I headed to Erie to celebrate Christmas with my parents (aka Nonna and Pap-pap).

On the way, feelings of intense grief began to surface.

I reached for my phone to tweet something about it. Something like, “Suddenly really missing Gabriel.”

And then I didn’t.

I put my hands back in my lap, and let the feeling engulf me. I cried a little. I turned to my husband and told him the way I was feeling. We held hands. I said, “I would think I would be over this feeling by now.”

I didn’t mean I would be over being sad. I’ll never stop being sad or missing Gabriel.

The grief continued on and off throughout the weekend. For the first time in a long time, it wasn’t just feeling a little sad that my first son wasn’t with us. It was grief, painful and sharp, keener than it’s been… probably since Kate was born.

I didn’t tweet about my grief for one reason.

It wasn’t because I felt I would be ignored, that my grief for my son would fall on deaf ears. My followers are in many cases my friends as well, and they wouldn’t let me down. They would reach out to me (virtually) in my time of grief. Of this I have little doubt.

It wasn’t because I wanted to hide my grief. That I didn’t want to talk about my baby loss (as Dan termed it this weekend “baby sadness”) at what is supposed a joyful time of year — about the birth of a baby. It wasn’t because I thought I would be raining on people’s Christmas or holiday parade.

I didn’t tweet about my grief because I needed to be with my grief. And I needed to be with my grief with my small group, primarily my husband, of course, but I did talk about the way I was feeling with my parents after dinner on Christmas Eve.

I don’t know what factors contributed to the resurgence of my intense feelings, whether hormones, exhaustion, or stress, or why some of the music I heard made my sentiment well (“Coventry Carol” and “Gabriel’s Message” from A Very Special Christmas album were definite triggers, as well as a couple of tracks from A Christmas Together – John Denver & The Muppets). Although I consider myself very blessed in my marriage and my other three children, something about Michael being a year old perhaps made me feel Gabriel’s loss more keenly.

And, let’s face it, what I love Twitter for (besides my tweeps) is the immediacy of the medium. You have a thought or feeling or question, and you can just shoot it out into the ether and be done with it. And then you can check your @’s obsessively to see if anyone agrees, disagrees, or has the answer. It can be used for conversation, for soliciting good prayers and thoughts (something I had just used it for the day of Michael’s ear tube surgery), for checking in with other tweeps. I have never made any secret of my fondness for Twitter, but it’s not necessarily for dwelling on things.

I had to do that with my grief. I had to sit with it, share it with the people who were physically present to me, work through it. By Christmas Day, I really felt much better — not just because some of the external factors were resolved. I had had a couple of nice days with friends in Erie (and beer), and with my kids and parents, and I was more rested.

I also processed my grief, recognized and acknowledged it. It surprised me in its timing and intensity. I thought those high waves were far behind me; clearly I was mistaken. And that’s okay.

I hope you all had Merry Christmases and Happy Holidays. And if you had grief, I hope, like me, you had the time and space — or took the time and space — to go through it. Many well wishes and happy thoughts for you all.

20 thoughts on “The Thing I Didn’t Tweet About

  1. My grief this weekend was hard, too. It never left my side. Once Christmas was over I felt a relief, like maybe I can finally breathe again.

    Sending you hugs, and thinking of Gabriel today.

    • The first Christmas after Gabriel died, I didn’t even want to celebrate. We didn’t do a tree, and my husband and I were alone up in Erie with my parents. “Subdued” didn’t even cover it.

      I understand that feeling of relief. There is so much pressure surrounding this season: to be perfect and pretty and prepared and joyful. And when grief doesn’t leave your side, you are none of those things. That’s okay. Hard, but okay.

      I thought of you, too, as the feelings started. This is my eighth Christmas without him, and only your first. Sending you hugs right back.

    • I am also sending hugs and hoping your journey through the most intense part of your grief is closer to finished than begun.

  2. so so glad we could get to together over the weekend…I thought about all of you a lot after Friday night. Realized how much I miss spending time with you! There is nothing like face time and in person hugs with friends! I had my own waves of grief at different points…it is amazing how strong the feelings can be, and come out of nowhere (it seems). It will be three years this week since my mom passed. Doesn’t seem possible. Yet, especially at Christmas, or whenever the family gets together, there is always a “missing piece.” And I know that it will always be there. Some days the missing piece seems like a huge abyss…other days I don’t notice it quite as much…but it never goes away. I wish you all peace, and a happy and healthy new year!

    Much love always to you and your family!

    • I love seeing you! What a fun night that was! I slept GREAT that night. 🙂
      I agree that there is nothing like getting together with people in real life. I always think of your mom this time of year, too. Gabriel is my “missing piece” and we miss him more when surrounding by our whole family I think. The presence of all those children doesn’t quite fill the gap left by him.

      Much love in return. Hug those munchkins for me!

    • I am very lucky that my family is so understanding, that they let me feel my feelings without question — I don’t get that “When are you going to get over this” from them. A small gift without a doubt.

  3. Thank you for sharing these thoughts, when you were ready. I’m glad you and your husband are there for each other and that you had time to be comforted at home with your family and friends.

  4. Big hugs mama. It’s hard to enjoy the joy of the holiday while missing a loved one. I’m glad hubs was there for support.

  5. So many hugs to you. Your feelings about Twitter are right on- I feel that way about a lot of things less intense and personal than what you deal with. It is great, but it doesn’t take the place of real live people. I’m happy that you had people there to talk with when you needed it. xoxo

  6. @MamaK, @TwinMamaTeb, and @Jennifer, thanks, all. Dan was great, even carrying his own grief, not just about Gabriel, but his grandmother passed away last year right before Christmas. It was nice to have peace at my parents’ place. And helped a lot, too, that our children slept through the night! Sleep definitely helps. Hugs back!

  7. I cannot even imagine what you must have and are still feeling. Even just the thought of losing a child makes me stop and catch my breath – to actually feel it and live with it…it’s unimaginable.

    You’re so very strong, Dawn. I have nothing but respect for you. May little Gabriel rest in peace and shine down on his awesome mama.

    • The one bright spot: I feel like my family has a special guardian angel now. Not that I don’t wish it had been different — our family has enough saints in heaven! — but… it’s a way of living with it without letting it stop us from going forward. Thanks, dear.

  8. As always, many hugs and lots of love to you and the whole family. No matter the occasion, all you can do is exactly what you did and in the end, it’s the best thing for you. It might not have been the most joyous of holidays but it was the holiday you needed and that’s what counts.

    • Thanks, sweetie! Christmas was still very joyful for us, I just had some intense moments. Like I said, I am very blessed, in my family AND my friends. We need to have a glass of wine together soon!

  9. I lurk around your post and am not sure what to say. I liked your thoughts about being present in the moment without tweeting because sometimes we have to do that, we have to feel all of it before reporting. I am sorry for your loss.

  10. Thank you for sharing this post. While I cannot relate to your grief, I can definitely relate to this idea of being fully present with your emotions, really experiencing them not as “events” to share, but as happenings in your life in those moments. I’m so glad you took the moment to feel your feelings and be with people who support you!

    • When I first dove into writing online, and then into Twitter, I wanted to report everything. My kids would do something cute, frustrating, or funny, and I’d think, “That’ll make a great story.” I wanted to tweet every thought that crossed my mind (I didn’t — even as a noob, I realized that wasn’t a good idea). I’m learning to step back, to be more thoughtful about my online life and how I create it. I’m learning more about my story-telling style. And it’s good.


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