DCIB Life and Death Post: What Do You Want to Share With Filmikudhi to Help Her Deal With New Life, and with Me and Eva to Help Us Deal with Death?

I was gonna write a post actually about Indian film, you know, the thing this blog is supposed to be about. But instead I got thinking about this post and once again FAILED.

Filmikudhi is going to have a baby someday or other. For those of you who have dealt with new parenthood in the DCIB community, what do you want to share with her?

I’ll tell you what my mother said when my sister had her baby: “The one thing I really regret from my days of having babies. I should have slept more.” Which sounds funny, but also it was a statement of “forget the clean house, the handmade clothes, etc. etc. The best thing I could have done as a mother was be awake and present with my kids”.

And my grandfather just died, and now Eva’s granddad is dying. So what do you want to share about Death and Grief?

Here’s the most useful thing I learned about grief. It has a massive physical effect on you. When someone close to you dies, your body feels it independent of your brain. For me, I start sleeping all the time, can’t keep my eyes open. And I get really clumsy, like my body isn’t functioning quite right. It’s not “I am sad therefore I am sleepy”, it’s that my body is reacting weirdly. I knew for other people it is a sudden bad cold, or a headache that won’t go away, or your hands keep shaking, or your eyes won’t focus. Anyway, it’s weird, but also natural.

25 thoughts on “DCIB Life and Death Post: What Do You Want to Share With Filmikudhi to Help Her Deal With New Life, and with Me and Eva to Help Us Deal with Death?

  1. Babies – hard to say just one thing. The unfortunate thing about babies is that you get better with them the more you have, but most sane people stop at two. I remember being so frustrated with my first child, who wouldn’t stop screaming. He was two days old and I found myself blaming him for the screams, so I started chanting to myself “He’s two days old, you’re 32. He’s two days old, you’re 32…” The self chanting helped, but I didn’t realize then that what I needed to do was make myself calm, truly deeply calm, and hold him calmly, cheek to cheek. You have too calm yourself before you can calm the child.

    Grief. When my best friend died it felt like I was walking around with a gash in my heart. My shoulders were holding it up but I couldn’t keep the edges together and it just kept bleeding, everywhere. I would walk around the city (Berlin) bleeding. I asked a friend, who had lost her father young and her mother when she was in her late teens, why it felt like a terrible break-up. And she said it was the pain of loss. Physical pain. Eventually that pain fades, eventually you’ll wake up in the morning and it won’t be there anymore, but the more you try to hide from that pain the longer it lasts.

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    • Thank you. This is very helpful. While puppies and children are NOT the same, I remember when I first got my puppy and had to wake up every two hours to take him out, by the third week, I did NOT find my puppy cute. I was so irrationaly angry and exhausted. My dad came to stay with us, and I literally handed the puppy to him and went upstairs into my bedroom away from everyone for a few hours. I am a bit worried, this will happen with the baby as well but, I am hoping I learned from that experiance a little bit and know when I just need a break.

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      • It is very easy to start resenting your child. That’s where the two days old, two weeks old, two months old, two years old reminders are helpful. Remembering how young and inexperienced your child is, how their brain is developing now, their emotions are all new… well a good sense of child development helps prevent resentment!

        Before I had kids I managed a first five parental education program. The biggest thing I learned is that love is the most important. The children need to feel loved. Some people (numerous friends) don’t love their babies when they first get them, but go through the motions and the love will come. Love your kid, make sure they know they are loved. Food and sleep are important, but not as important as love.

        The second biggest thing I learned is how to do dental screenings. Which I now use to avoid going to the dentist. Pretty much the OPPOSITE of the program’s goal.

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        • I used to think to myself how uncomfortable and confusing it must be to grow that fast. They’re doubling in body weight and working on two sets of teeth plus hair and finger and toenails and their little brain synapses firing like crazy. Not their fault they have something to say about it.

          Personally I love sleeping and dreaded the sleepless part of parenting. I found it not as bad as I feared. There are definitely sleepless periods but if you value your sleep in most cases you will be able to figure out how to make it happen – maybe not at every moment but over time.

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  2. When I finally was appointed to the position I aspired to, the President of the university came to my office to congratulate me. I told him I was nervous and he gave me this advice: “You’ll have to make a lot of decisions but don’t worry, even the wrong ones will eventually turn out alright.” It works for babies, too.

    As for dealing with mourning, I can’t offer any words of wisdom. My husband died at the start of the pandemic before anybody knew anything about Covid. Funeral parlors and cemeteries were closed to me, and I rejected the ghoulish service that offered to collect his body from the hospital and store him in a truck in Brooklyn. By the time I got it sorted, I was dealing with testing and vaccinations and quarantine and grandchildren out of school and and and. It’s only now I’m able to grieve, but like Langston Hughes said about a dream deferred, mourning deferred dries up and crusts over so I don’t think I’ve started yet.

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    • Oh Maria, I remembered that you lost your husband and I hope you can ease into grief in the way that is as manageable for you as possible. And you still have Teddi, right? Dogs are AMAZING.

      On Mon, Nov 29, 2021 at 11:40 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • Oh wow, your experience sounds so much worse than the simple and very natural process of a really old person slowly fading away.

      I’m actually at the point right now where Margaret started out, too: There’s no *logical* reason for grief. And right now it feels like my stress is more about the logistics of maybe getting my whole family there than it is about any concern on his behalf. Or even the fact that I’m losing him. I already mourned for that after the last time I saw him, when so much of him was already gone.

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      • Has your family met your daughter yet? That’s always really nice, having life in death.

        On Mon, Nov 29, 2021 at 2:01 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • True. My parents visited for a few short hours some weeks ago, but my sisters haven’t seen her live yet – nor has my granddad.

          Speaking of life in death: filmikudhi now gets a real choice which grandfather she wants to reincarnate into her baby.

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          • Oooo, good point!!! I thought my Grandpa was a gimme, but now it could be yours. Or, of course, Dilip Kumar.

            On Mon, Nov 29, 2021 at 2:23 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. Sleep when your baby sleeps. And take care of yourself first – just like in the safety instructions on a plane, where you’re supposed to put on your own oxygen mask first. Your baby can’t do that for you, after all, and he needs you healthy. And, as Genevieve says, calm. I think that’s the whole reason why lullabies were invented, to calm down the adult, slow their breathing, so they can calm the baby in turn.

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    • Cute story barely related: My nephew’s current naptime lullaby is “Sentimental Reasons”, which my sister realized he thinks is “Sentimental Raisins” because he loves raisins. But it still works.

      On Mon, Nov 29, 2021 at 1:41 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. For babies: I remember wishing someone had told me more about the physical part of postpartum. It mostly passes in a couple of weeks but those first two weeks post baby can be intense. And if you’re breastfeeding, there’s a worst part around that two day mark that Genevieve mentioned where baby is rested up and HUNGRY but your milk isn’t fully in yet. You get past it but it feels eternal in the moment with a red-faced crying tiny person. Within 2-3 weeks you will figure out a rhythm that makes sense for your family and have tons of practice with dressing and feeding and diapers. Everything hard about being a baby parent will pass (and sometimes come back around and pass again). It’s physical and a lot of work and messes with your sense of self, but also more fun than you might be expecting. Plenty of built in comedy.

    Oh, and most important: none of the choices that you and your parent peers will obsess over – feeding, care situation, sleep training, parenting styles – really matter that much in the end. By the time your kid is ten you’ll wonder why you stressed so much or got so judgy over that one thing.

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    • Thank you for discussing the physical part of postpartum. Intellectually, I knew there was an intense physical part of it, but I had no idea about basic stuff like your milk doesn’t come in right away. Breastfeeding can HURT. I am not going to be able to navigate stairs, so, I should keep everything on one level if possible. I am sure I will learn so much more once I am postpartum, but I agree that noone really discusses what happens to your body after you have the baby. As Margaret said in a comment a few weeks ago, we all just assumed that once you deliver the baby, you stop looking pregnant because the baby is out. It wasn’t until Kate Middleton still looked pregnant post delivery that it became an everyday discussion topic.

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      • I had other problem regarding milk – I had it but I didn’t know how to properly hold my son so he can drink it. It sounds stupid because it should be natural and easy and still for me and my son it wasn’t. He didn’t have problems with drinking because when nurses put him in the right position he was able to drink, but as soon as they were leaving the room he was stopping drinking. It was driving me crazy.

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        • I have a friend who just had her baby that is having the same problem! She had no problem breast feeding the baby while she was in the hospital and the nurses were helping her position the baby, but now that she is home, she can’t seem to be able to figure it out.

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        • Also, I love how a blog community of people brought together by their love for Indian cinema has become the perfect place to discuss post-partum issues. 🙂 It makes me smile!

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  5. I’ve lost both parents and a brother and what I think I learned is that grief is not one thing. Sometimes it’s intense and sometimes it’s boring. It can feel like fear or anger. Sometimes it’s beautiful and thankful. A friend told me to just feel what I feel and it sounds trite but made a lot of sense.

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  6. For the baby stuff, my advice is, you got this! I know there can be a lot of worrying and doubting and researching various supports for various scenarios but honestly your own judgment in the moment on what to do will serve you well. Or as a friend of mine said “the books are all the same, just read one and then sleep instead”.

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    • I love this advice. I feel like I have read as much as I can for now. Now, I just need to figure it out for myself. Thankfully, I have been told that kids are pretty resiliant.

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  7. Babies: l had mostly avoided them till l had one at age 44. I thought I’d carry on pretty much the same, only with a baby, perhaps sleeping cutely on my tum as l went on my way… well it was not like that. More like a bomb went off in my life really; everything changed. So yes, look after yourself. Get as much support as you can lined up around you – people you are happy to trust to look after the young one while you have a break are GOLD. And like everyone says, most of the details really dont matter in the long run, as long as the love is there. But l have to say it was only fairly recently that l really started to feel like myself again, son is now 18! Also, they keep changing, no sooner have you got used to a baby, than they start moving around and talking AND TURN INTO TODDLERS. When you cant even complete a thought, never mind a sentence. They become more opaque as well, from being in complete symbiosis they start becoming more apart – the day your hug suddenly can’t cure Absolutely Everything anymore is a sad day. Welcome to a new dimension.

    Grief: well, it becomes part of your life, the waves die down over time and then if you’re like me and still talk to people after they’ve gone, things evolve. I used to think that gone is gone but over the years l’ve become less sure about it all. Apparently my mother-in-laws last words were not a whispered farewell as my SIL thought, but ‘ Mum, what’re you doing here?’. From being agitato she passed very peacefully in the end. I pray as well, whether for me or them l don’t know; and it doesn’t matter.

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