So there’s a thing going on in Canada right now on social media called #BellLetsTalk. It’s supposed to bring awareness to mental health issues and to raise funds. I have a Twitter account but I mainly use it for professional purposes and hesitated to post this there…but in the last hour of #BellLetsTalk, I’ve been feeling increasingly grumpy and have some stuff to get off my chest.
First, let’s be clear: grief is not a mental illness. But the people who ostensibly are there to help us are usually mental health professionals. I dealt with a few in the earlier years of grieving.
I remember the social worker who came to see us in the hospital. She had black hair and was wearing a creamy Aran sweater. She was quite thin, and she stood against a wall, her arms wrapped around her body, like she was trying to stay as far away as possible from us and to protect herself from us, too. She was timid, obviously frightened, and completely unreassuring. She told us about services like Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, but discouraged us, saying, it’s all volunteer run and since it’s a Saturday…[trails off, casts eyes aside]. I was in too much shock to think much about this then, but I remember it all so clearly now. Her back pressed into the wall. Her arms tight around herself. Ok, yeah, it was fucking sad and traumatic, but surely a *mental health professional* can do better than that? Surely this wasn’t her first go around at a dead baby in the province’s busiest maternity hospital??
Next up: I was referred rather urgently to the post-partum unit at the hospital nearest me. I’d been told there was a six-month waitlist, but after maybe being a bit too open about my anger, I was suddenly fast-tracked. I had one appointment there. It was good. I like the counsellor. I wanted to go back. They said they would call to schedule another appointment, and they did, but they offered me one time, and when that wasn’t going to work for me….nothing. No other time offered. They hung up. They never called back. Sorry for the profanity but….the fuck??
Third round: the child psychologist. I wrote about her earlier. She told me children don’t grieve for siblings they never knew. Um…This blog is evidence to the absolute contrary. Idiot. That’s all I have to say about her.
Number four: the counsellor I saw, again at the province’s busiest maternity hospital, who berated me…who made me feel like a bad mom…because I hadn’t bought diapers for M when I was about 30 weeks pregnant. I know I wrote about her somewhere here, too. She was so concerned that I didn’t have these diapers: you know what? We live in one of the biggest cities in the country. There are 24-hour pharmacies. There are lots of places to buy diapers, and it’s easy enough to stop on the way home from the hospital, run in and buy diapers for a living baby. What’s not so easy? Confronting an unused box of diapers for a baby who died. Sorry, again, health care professional, but I don’t think making that particular decision to wait on diapers was the most crucial thing we could have spent our limited time together on.
Well, I guess there’s still some of that good old anger kicking around. Take that stupid corporate advertising-that-we’re-supposed-to-believe-is-pure-philanthropy. I feel better now. Goodnight.