in the shit

September 4, 2013

i’ve spent the last month, muscling my way through a book that is difficult to read, a book about the effects of genetic testing on women’s decisions to continue a pregnancy. i’ve had to take a lot of breaks and step back, not because i’m judging these women but because it’s a terrible thing to be drawn in close to the nitty gritty of the decisions they have made.

in august, i began a course to become a certified bereavement doula – that is, a doula who will support women facing stillbirths or the possibility of postnatal death. looking over my required reading was another muddle of ‘difficult’ books. i ask myself why i’m doing this, what is the point. in forcing myself to study tragedy, i’m going to drive myself into the depressive rut that i so carefully and daily combat.

but why am i doing this? in becoming a bereavement doula, i am asking to be repeatedly thrust into terrible, tragic situations. i know that, right?

a year and a half ago, some dear friends lost their firstborn in a stillbirth. knowing this would be the likely outcome, they asked me if i would be willing to still be their doula (plans we had made when they were first pregnant and believed the baby was healthy) under these new circumstances. tragic and terrible as that situation was, sofia’s birth was one of the most powerful experiences of love and of God that i have ever had. truly, truly i learned that hope and love burn most brightly when in the tight context of pain.

we live in a society that is repulsed by sadness, treating it like a disease we can catch, fearful of getting too close to those who are hurting lest their pain rub off on us. but where is the hope? i’ve realized over the last few months that most of my depression is wrapped up in anxiety and fear. and i’m sick of being scared. i don’t want to be scared of pain, of death, of hurting, of the dark, difficult decisions. i want to be willing to be there.

and i am well aware that this is so, so, so much easier said then done. i remember clearly the nagging pain i dragged around me when working with teenage moms in englewood. this very week has had a dark weightiness to it as i converse with a friend considering abortion. practically speaking, i’m not very sure how to walk with women in darkness while maintaining the hope i profess. likely there is no practical way to go about it.

even so, i will finish this bereavement doula course.

i will make myself available for difficult conversations.

i will see where this goes.