This shitty thing called grief is such a roller-coaster … I call it shitty because to experience grief, it means you have lost something very dear to you. And who wants to loose anything in life? No one. Think about, as a kid when you lost your favorite toy or trinket how devastating it was, and no matter if your parents offered to replace, it still was never good as the original. Now as adults, the stakes are so much higher when it comes to loss … like the loss of a loved one: a child, a spouse, a parent, a dear friend or family member, a pet. But people experience all different kinds of loss: a marriage, a career, an illness.
Now recently experiencing the loss of our son, I can tell you, my wish for this world is for no one to loose anything, because the level of pain is unbearable. And some might say that loosing a child is the worst kind of loss, because a child is a symbol of your future. They are literally made from you, not just your DNA but your love as well. And when you become a parent, all you want to do is protect your child and if you can’t, well then you feel as if you failed. So not only do you grieve the loss of your child’s life, but you grieve the loss of you being a parent. How this rings so true for me. Our son was our first child, so all our hope and future was put into him the second we found out we were expecting. I also quit my job because I knew that once he was here, all I wanted was the new job title of “Mom” and nothing else.
So I’ve learned I cannot compare my loss but I can RELATE. I have no idea what it feels like to go through a divorce or be diagnosed with a life threatening condition. Even other mothers that I have spoken to who have lost their child, our stories are similar but never the exact same. Once we acknowledge that it’s not a “could be worse” or “who is suffering more” mentality, we can have true compassion and real empathy for ALL levels of loss. Everyone’s journey is so different and personal, but I hope someone who is reading this can feel validated as they relate along side me.
So this is where that roller-coaster comes in … “they” say there are 5 stages to grief:
I can tell you first hand, that I’ve gone through them all in these past two-ish months. Proof for me that they are not meant to be followed in sequential order, or to be checked off a list. Some days I experience all 5 sporadically throughout day. Other days, I feel extremely heavy in just one, like depression. And sometimes I just barely dip my toe into one of them, like anger (that one I’m not to fond of or familiar with). I also believe there’s about 20 more feelings they could add to that list of 5, like “insanity” or “having one too many glasses of white wine” … but I get it, they are trying to be concise.
Like yesterday, from just publishing the full story of our loss the night before, I cried to Jon in bed when we woke up saying, “I just miss him, I miss him SO much.” Then I came downstairs to read the flood of comments from my post, so much love and support from so many people. I was a puddle of tears reading them. I was trying to feel and absorb every word that each person wrote … whether it was the superlatives of bravery & strength (which I have never felt like by the way, but that’s a whole other blog post), or tokens of love, support and hope, or my favorite (and most tearful) the compliments and acknowledgements of his beauty. So I took in all the words and vowed to have a hopeful day. I decided to spend the afternoon by the pool to read inspiring words by Brené Brown. Then my “memories” feature popped up on my Facebook showing what I was doing exactly 1 year ago that day, all the way back to 8 years ago as well. So I shared my hopefulness with a post about how grateful I was for this life and what it has given me. Like 8 years ago I was in Greece studying abroad, 6 years ago Jon and I were taking our engagement photos, and a year ago I was at the Hornets Arena greeting NBA player Jeremy Lin with a cake that Mandie and I had made for him. Which then Jon and I impulsively decided to go see a movie, to get out of the house and have a good laugh.
Once seated at the theater, a father and his two sons came in and sat down right next to me. The father was in the middle, with each boy by his side. The younger of two was the furthest away, and the older one (I’m guessing about 10 years of age) took his seat right next to me. This boy was so well-mannered to his father and brother, tall and handsome, sporting basketball-type shorts and shoes. With experiencing stillbirth, most of my grief triggers are infant or pregnancy related, but this adolescent boy took my breath away and the tears began to stream down my face. It struck a cord in me, this feeling that we will never get those moments with our son, or know what he would be like at that age. Because after giving birth to our son, the nurse told us all his measurements, giving us his stat of 17 inches tall at just 30 weeks … while holding him I turned to Jon and said, “well the world just lost the next greatest athlete.” I saw our son in this boy and it just crushed me. Just proof how real this roller-coaster is, you have these moments of hope and acceptance, that can all be brought down in an instant. They say grief can wash all over you, out of nowhere … a scent, a song, a place, anything can trigger it. I know I have MANY more of these moments in my future, actually I know I will have them for the rest of my life, because his memory will never leave my heart. But with time, this roller-coaster is sure to have less peaks and valleys.
So just as a kid when that offer was made to replace your toy and you refused because it would never be like the original … this now comes full circle as an adult. Sure, eventually you could get remarried, receive a life changing cure, or even have another child. But these new steps could take a very long time or unfortunately may never come at all. So one can never replace the other. Now that you’ve experienced the loss, you have to properly grieve it first. Just like with everything else in my life, I try to do all things to the best of my ability … so watch out grief, I’m gonna grieve the shit outta you.