Life – its all about perception. Life, is exactly how you perceive it to be.
My first and biggest lesson of this, was back in 2010. It was June. Early June. My daughter had died at full term pregnancy in January 2010. I had just gone back to work, 16 weeks later.
My work, was working with homeless people. My office was based in a hostel. We worked to provide supported housing to people that were homeless and vulnerable and waiting to be housed by the local council.
I wasn’t looking forward to going back to work. As my child had died and i knew that there would be pregnant women and babies there. But work were kind. They said that I didn’t have to work with those cases and they would allocate me different clients.
All should have been well. But life was still to teach me. My first client was an 86 year old Scottish lady. She had a round smiley face, big glasses, and really reminded me of Mrs Doubtfire.
Returning to work, was staged, so I wasn’t working full time at first. It was my last client on my first week back, and I glanced at my watch, it was time for me to go home. My client asked “why are you leaving early?” “Oh, I said, rather hurriedly, I have been off for a while and am working shorter hours for few weeks” I secretly hoped that she would be happy with this answer and I could leave.
Her interest peaked, and I knew she was going to ask me further probing questions. I fidgeted on the spot. “So, you have been ill?” It felt like more a statement than a question. I could tell that she was looking for further information, but was determined not to tell her. I gave what i thought would be the safest, least complicated answer. “No”, I said with a feigned smile. I thought as fast as I could….. ummm…..”I have had a baby” I blurted out.
Mrs Doubtfire’s face creased into a smile, and she peered at me, pushing her large spectacles further up her nose. “Oh, and how old is your baby?” I froze, what was I to say to this? I paused, and glanced at her. She was waiting for an answer. At that moment, I debated what would I say? I couldn’t now lie. It was true that i had been off because I had a baby. But of course, my daughter was no longer alive.
I weighed it up, and decided to be honest. But that I would just be matter of fact about it. I weighed it up in my head, did I dismiss her? Did I lie? What should I do? So, I decided, to go with it, and tell her. “Well, I said, unfortunately my daughter died”. I honestly didn’t know what else to say, I could hardly say I had a 4 month old little girl. Although that to me, was the reality, I knew that if I said that, then I would be open to further questions. I knew that I could get into trouble for saying this.
She broke into a smile “ah, a miscarriage, i had one of those” she said with a strong Scottish accent. I was slightly offended at this, she didn’t understand. “No, I said, its wasn’t a miscarriage, it was s stillbirth. I was full term, my daughter was 7lb 4oz”. She looked at me slightly puzzled. “Ah, is that what they call it these days? stillbirth, there is a fancy term. Yes, I had one of those”. I thought she still wasn’t quite grasping what I was saying, my child died at FULL TERM, I thought to myself, desperate to get home, and starting to feel quite uncomfortable.
Mrs Doubtfire looked wistfully at a photo of a woman in her 30′s, that stood on her dresser. It was a nice photo, in a frame, a pretty lady with dark hair. She continued, “yes, I had one of those, I was a 21 year old girl, it was 65 years ago. She continued, I was 40 weeks”. I started to pay attention. So, she really did understand…
Her voice quietened, as she continued with her story ‘I knew that there was something wrong, i gave birth to my baby, and I could hear the midwife’s whispering. They said nothing and moved me to a ward. I had been there for three days, people were sat with their babies. Everyone, except me. Then my mum came to see me. She was dressed in her Sunday best. I had been there for three days on my own, she was my first visitor. My mum leant over the bed and whispered ‘so, they told you then’? ‘…….. “whoever she meant by ‘they’ hadn’t but I just nodded my head. This was how i knew that my baby was dead. She said there was no funeral, nobody spoke to her about anything. She didn’t even know what the sex was.
‘Don’t worry she said, you will have another child, I expect a little girl too, to replace the one that you have lost’ I knew that she was probably wrong. I was now 41, and her father had left 6 days after she died. As a single woman this wasn’t very likely. She then moved and picked up the photo in a frame, she looked lovingly at the photo, and stroked the glass with love. I did, she said, ‘this is my daughter Karen” and she handed me the photo in a frame. “I became pregnant with her the year after I lost my baby. She was my only child. Unfortunately, she died at the age of 36. This is her, just before she died”. I looked at the photo of the woman in a frame, and Mrs Doubtfire looked across at me with pride and a nod.
I went home from work that day, knowing that i had learned an important lesson. With my daughter, there had been a big thing. I had held her for days, a dead child. Attended a funeral, she has a grave. She has a name, Maya. Yet my perceptions, despite we had been through identical things, were totally different to the other lady who had lost her full term baby too.
My experiences caused a bond with my daughter, which made losing her incredibly difficult. Dressing her in clothes, arranging a funeral, yes, did make her my daughter, but it immediately made her my dead daughter. I wondered at that point, who had the worse deal? Me who had everything – or this lady, who didn’t even know the sex of her child? I had made so many complaints after my daughter died. Yet this woman, had her baby at full term, and nobody even told her that her child was dead. In fact, nobody told her at all, she had to figure it out for herself.
Our experiences couldn’t have been more different. Yet, they were the same. But, our perceptions were completely different. I wondered at that point, if the way that I had done it was actually harder, more difficult, or whether it was easier? Is it easier to have a grave, is it easier to go through a funeral? Is it easier to hold your dead child for days, and then bury her, when you have never seen her alive? In our efforts to make things better for ourselves, do we actually make things more difficult? This lady, taught me something that day. That no matter what you go through in life, its all about perception.
By Changing Your Thinking
By Changing Your Thinking,
You change your beliefs;
When you change your beliefs,
You change your expectations;
When you change your expectations,
You change your attitude;
When you change your attitude,
You change your behavior;
When you change your behavior,
You change your performance;
When you change your performance;
You Change Your Life!