When I first found out that Poppy had died I knew there would be pain and sorrow, but misunderstood the amount of pain and sorrow that would come. I also naively thought that after a period of time that I would wake up one day and be healed…because of course time is a healer, right?
Wrong, healing isn’t a one time event, but rather I have come to see that it is a process. An accumulation of small experiences that over time become easier and less painful to do, but the more you do it the easier it becomes, and it comes in different ways, surprising ways and at strange times – Feeling the pain a little less when you see a baby, not feeling it as rawly so regularly, being able to talk or listen of babies and not hurt so deeply. Walking past a baby shop/clothes and not flinching…whatever ways you see it, it does come a little here and there…I am not sure if time is a healer as in it takes away all pain from the loss, but rather that you learn and teach yourself to live with the sorrow under the surface and not let it consume you any more, because time has given you an opportunity to grow a secure new skin over the wound. Its still there just more securely held down.
One of my best friends and closest supporters through my loss and grief journey is also 6.5 months pregnant (ouch) and the real kick…with a girl – I know *gasp* and how awkward!
(Well it is and it isn’t) I have wanted to write about this since I found out as it has been a big part of my grief journey. I realised recently that in some ways it has helped me heal quicker in areas than I might not have if she wasn’t bringing pregnancy and birth into my life on a regular basis. I only have a couple of people in life that have repeatedly and actively shown me that they are there and want to help me make sense of it all, help me, love me, let me rant and always come to my rescue and so this news has been like having my arm ripped off at times as I’ve tried to figure out how it will affect this bond and support system she created in the beginning!
My initial reaction though was happiness; I was so overjoyed and excited for them when I found out. Its been a long time coming and a huge blessing in their lives, it makes me happy that they have a new baby coming soon to complete their family and that their daughter gets to be a big sister, another wish come true for her little heart. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I also felt jealous, sad and uneasy – jealous that I no longer had my baby, sad because of my grief and pregnancy/baby stuff being a trigger, saddened and helpless that I couldn’t and cant always be the joyful, excited friend I wanted to be and uneasy at how it will affect my grief when she’s born a few weeks after Poppy would have been 1! I think I sometimes worry that I will be seen as less of a friend because im not always going nuts about it!
We talk about it a lot and whilst on some days her happiness and experiences are triggers for my grief, on other days we can sit like “normal” friends and talk about the usual baby stuff; pregnancy, plans and maternity wear. I find it hard to see other friends too all excited and gleeful, when that was me last year and now few people mention it ever happened, and I worry about how it will be when she is born, can I hold her, touch her? I haven’t held a baby so small and new since Poppy. Will I be a bad friend because I may not be able to offer what everyone else is? And then there are the anniversaries I am to face mid september; only a couple of weeks before her baby is due . How can she continue to support me in my grief when her life will be so busy with a newborn? I wouldn’t expect her to and have said this but this, for me, is the reality of this news from such a close friend. She always asks, never flinches. She lets me rant and get angry and never judges, she always answers when I call, always comes over with treats and we sit in our joggers and whine! I know that won’t change but it doesn’t stop me worrying. The difference will be I will drop in on her to whine instead of her me!
Whilst it is hard (some days) and often causes me to realise what I am missing and have lost it also it has strangely brought me a step forward – a major step forward and some healing. Initially I anticipated this to make the following 9 months awkward (what would I say? how would I behave?) but we have been honest about expectations (there are none) and I am surprised that on good days I can just be me; interested in my friends life, her pregnancy, her progress, her plans, her hopes, her maternity wardrobe. And then just last week I walked into GAP and bought not one, but 2 baby girl outfits and felt excited to do it not just for her and the baby but the whole experience of feeling gooey over teeny things again. To be able to pick up baby girls clothes and buy them is something surprised me A LOT (and Nath even more so) seeing these things do make me emotional but not so much as they used to, the pain isn’t the same and isn’t the dominant emotion for this scenario, I don’t flinch to see baby clothes, in fact its been quite the opposite, I have an urge to want to buy loads! Yes watch out pregnant buddie of mine with my quirky tastes, I like to buy baby clothes now, I just want to buy all of their cuteness and having no baby to dress in them means they’re coming your way – pahahahhaha!
Grief does not have a time frame, it can last a life time but doesn’t have to control you for a life time. I have seen that as I continue to pray for help, for less pain and then practice and expose myself a little more to the things that cause me pain, I find them a little easier to experience or be around. I see that in small ways I am healing and learning to live with the sorrow left from loosing my daughter and a lifetime of memories with her. I think this hole she left will be there my entire life but healing is about using the pain to radiate love and compassion to others as oppose to anger and bitterness. I am most glad that this yet to be born baby has helped me to get over some stuff and find joy in them again. I may not hold her until shes 5 or cry my way through her naming and blessing ceremony, but without her impending arrival I would still be avoiding baby aisles and floors, cowering from pregnant women and being angry at strangers with their precious new born’s (pfffttt). I am so glad that we talk openly and so never let this be a wedge, Instead my friend has opened a channel of communication to express the roller coaster of emotions inside from it and it has brought new levels to our relationship, we have days where it would be a normal friendship of baby topics, but we also have days when I sob that its all so hard. But what I will remember is that it has brought me some healing, it has covered certain wounds a little more securely and it has helped her to understand my grief a little deeper.