I’ve learned a lot about grief in the past 5 weeks. I wish with all my heart that I didn’t have to, but wishing won’t bring my baby back. So, I’ve tried my best to learn about, understand, accept and cater to my grief. It’s confusing and difficult, and I wouldn’t wish this on my mortal enemy. But, since I don’t have much of a choice in the matter, I’m here, doing my best to just keep going. This quote from Angela Miller’s You Are The Mother of All Mothers has really been resonating with me here in week 5 of my grief:
It takes invincible strength to mother a child you can no longer hold, see, touch or hear. You are a superhero mama. I see you fall down and get up, fall down and get up, over and over again. I notice the grit and guts it takes to pry yourself out of bed every single day and force your bloodied feet to stand up and keep walking. I see you walking this path of life you’ve been given where every breath and step apart from your child is a physical, emotional and spiritual battleground.
I am so weary, yet I continue on, because I am the one who carries the beautiful light of my son, and I will let it shine.
Here are the things I’ve learned about grief (and continue to learn) that have surprised me.
- When grieving, you must let your grief be what it is in the moment. That in itself is so difficult; when you’re in a moment where you don’t want grief to overtake you, it’s hard to resign yourself to it and let it happen, without fighting it. If you need to cry, let the tears come. If you need to be angry, yell into your pillow. If you need to get out of the house, go for a walk. Grieving would be much more difficult if you tried to smother it.
- Self-care matters. A lot. There have been several self-care things that I’ve allowed myself that have really, really helped me in my healing process. Listen to your heart and be kind to yourself. Do whatever you need to do to heal. For me, self care involves massages, lots of lavender baths with a glass of red wine, journaling, going for walks, and reading.
- You will get to know people in ways you haven’t before. Some people will surprise you in the way they handle you and your grieving. You may be pleasantly surprised, or you may be disappointed. You may lose friends, and you may gain some. You’ve just experienced a huge life-changing thing, and some people won’t understand that it has changed you. On the other hand, some that you maybe wouldn’t have expected to be there will be there for you in huge ways. Grieving changes your relationships.
- In the midst of grief, making decisions is almost impossible. First of all, my brain just doesn’t work. It’s tired from the constant thoughts of my son and life in general, and it lacks the capacity to make decisions. When I do make a decision, several times now I’ve changed my mind when my mood makes its next shift. Do not make any big decisions in the early weeks of grief!
- In that same vein, grief is so confusing. Most of the time, I have no idea what I want or need to do. I’ll get angry at my grief and lash out at it, and in the next moment, I’ll calmly let it sit there in my heart while I’m focused on something else. I have no control over it and it confuses the heck out of me. I try to understand it, but ultimately I don’t.
- Smiles are surprising. I’ll smile at something, realize what just happened, and be surprised. It takes a lot to let yourself have those wonderful happy moments peppered in amongst the hardcore grieving when you’ve lost your baby. You just have to remember that guilt is common in this situation, but try your best to not let guilt in. Losing your baby was not your fault. Period. There’s no sense in barring yourself from smiling once in a while…it will not mean you miss your baby any less. Let joy worm its way back in.
What has surprised you the most about grief? Chances are, we have lots of similarities <3