Last week a tsunami of grief washed over me and left me gasping for air. I couldn’t sleep, barely breathe, function properly, or be me in my everyday life.
I cried for what seemed like hours over several days … sobbing to Nathan, sobbing to the night, sobbing on my knees. I was desperate for some relief from this familiar pain that had returned (or rather resurfaced) to my soul and each day I woke up with that same heavy feeling in my heart, I wondered why?
Isn’t it supposed to get better with time? Aren’t I supposed to feel better about it … with Time? Shouldn’t I be on my way to “getting over this” and dealing with it? That’s what people keep saying or implying why isn’t it true for me?!
It’s been almost 3 years since our daughter passed away and was subsequently stillborn. 3 years. That’s over 1,000 days and I don’t know how many hours, and guess what? I still get sad about it, and I still find the week or 2 before her anniversaries to be the worst time of year. I hate the change in seasons, and find that even if I wanted to never think of it again, that’s actually not even possible. I feel in my soul and I know what’s coming.
I have found that whilst time has made it easier to live with (most days), some days it all just gets too much again. Some days I just become too tired of being strong, I become tired of being the one missing out on so many things because she never lived, and I get tired of pretending that i’m okay with that. I get tired of painting on a smile and not being able to have her in our life. And then, with all of that, something so small comes along and sweeps me over. It leaves me lost and feeling like there’s something wrong with me, and I get cross… why am I still feeling all of this? Why at 3 years is her birthday still so hard?
But you see there isn’t anything wrong with me, and I didn’t do anything wrong either. It’s not my fault that she died (though I have wondered this) and there isn’t anything mentally wrong with me either because I am still sad at certain points of my life as a result of that. I feel all of this every September because it is the natural result of carrying a child to term and then them dying before being born and really having life with you. It doesn’t mean i’m ill, lacking in faith, ungrateful for my other kids, miserable, or have a poor relationship with Jesus – it means I am human, and a mother living in a world with out my child!
But its easy to think there is something wrong with me, or maybe I am lacking something, when people tell you so much that “time is a healer”, or “I hope you can get over this and be okay”, and all along it still hurts… it still causes pain to remember. And then I find that to remember is also seen as a negative thing? Why wouldn’t I want to remember her?
It’s easy for me to think and even feel that I am lacking in something or not good enough because people avoid me or avoid asking how I am around this time of year and then wonder how after 3 long years and 1,000’s of days I am still not over it and still not “healed”.
But please tell me how you can get over your child dying and missing from everyday family life?
Please tell me how you can look at each passing year and birthday without a member of your family there to celebrate it, and then be okay about it?
Please tell me how is remembering them a weakness or a bad thing?
How is making them a part of our family so weird?
How is bringing them up in conversation so blumming awkward?
Please enlighten me on how it is such a weakness to cry and be sad occasionally about the fact my daughter was dead when I gave birth to her? And with that to know you missed a million things and more?
Please tell me why am I lacking in faith because I cried last week for days that she wasn’t starting nursery and her birthday is over looked?
What I wish people would say (or preach) to the bereaved is actually that time is not a healer at all, and that the truth is you won’t ever really get over it, but rather you WILL learn how to live with it. You will (and can) learn how to lead a happy and joyful life despite the pain of them not being in it. You will lead a new normal on a new path, that is filled with triggers of your loss and days of darkness all over again, but you will learn how to survive them and return to a functioning happy place once they pass. You will learn to see goodness in life and count your blessings despite the pain in your heart from one of your greatest blessings not being here. There will be days when the pain is barely noticeable, and people will breath a sigh of relief that perhaps we’re over it now and time has healed us, but with in a matter of days it can be all consuming again and a stark reminder that that isn’t true. That’s okay, there is nothing wrong with you.
I often want to ask “Isn’t my all functioning life, happy kids, adventures, poser pics, deep faith and joyful moments a testament that I am surviving and living a good life despite being sad?”
I wish people would realise that life isn’t easy to live with a piece of you missing, and yet I still do.
I wished they could see that however small they see a trigger of grief to be, it isn’t small at all. If its enough to make someone broken hearted all over again and sobbing, then that’s a big deal! They just need more love, more understanding, a listening ear and patience. The triggers are irrelevant, it’s not a problem to be fixed or solved because often you don’t expect them at all and so can’t help how you feel in any given moment or situation… we don’t need analysing, we just need love and compassion, and an understanding that any trigger is just more evidence, and a tell tale sign that the loss of a baby ripples into life for many years to come, therefore there is no quick fix for baby loss. We will not get over it, but with a good support system, we can learn how to live with it – through the highs and lows of life.
It doesn’t matter how many times we do the whole anniversary thing, the whole starting back at school thing, Christmas, family holidays, days out …. it doesn’t make it easier to know she’s not here with us. Time doesn’t make it easier to have a birthday and no child here to celebrate with. Time doesn’t make it easier to know that each year that passes so do so many days of no milestones or proud parent pics!
Time doesn’t erase that there are still so many unbought gifts, unwritten cards, uneaten cakes. It doesn’t erase having her not start school, or no presents under the tree for her at Christmas. Time cannot change the fact that we own a grave where she rests.
There are things I will never know about my 3rd daughter and things I will never get to experience with her, and because of that, I don’t know how I can ever get over those things? Each new year and chapter brings a minefield of emotions and triggers, and whilst I can see how I can learn to live with it in each moment, how I can lead a hearty life despite it being a part of our journey it’s still a struggle some days to have to pass through and tackle each one.
Yes I can see now how I can survive the waves of grief, however big and painful they are. But I am sorry, I cannot “get over” my child dying, and I don’t think I ever will or want to. I want to remember her, celebrate her if I can, and hold to the few memories we have of her being in our family.
One thing I have learnt from women far older and wiser than me, is that to have a happy life, you have to embrace that fact that you will never get over this, but you can learn to live with it!