I get it. I really do.
Working in healthcare has given me a brand new insight to what it’s like to watch people you care for in pain. Suffering, hurting, in gut wrenching agony… and all you want to do is make it stop for them. Hearing the cries and sobs of another human in pain is one of the most heartbreaking sounds we as humans can listen to. And generally when it comes to physical pain, there is usually a remedy. A quickly administered antidote of anti inflammatory medication, a pill, a shot, anything to calm the storm in another’s body causing them so much discomfort…
When it comes to the agony of grief unfortunately, that remedy is not so easily accessed. And watching another human, let alone someone you love, riddled in seemingly unending devastation and pain and knowing you hold no such remedy must be one of the most helpless feelings you could have.
When it comes to grief, the road is not one that has been easily mapped out for us. There is no program with a series of steps and processes that make the journey just a little bit more bearable. The healing a little bit faster. I always thought grief was inside of you. Something you wrestled with internally. After losing my baby boy before he ever took his first breath has taught me that grief is something outside of you. Like a shadow. It never leaves… it attaches to every step you make, every gesture you are able to muster, and you don’t ever walk without it. It has a mind of its own. It morphs and changes, and you just learn to live with its presence.
As a baby loss mom, I have tried to fight this thing called grief with every fiber of my being. I have avoided the pain, the triggers at all costs. I have run from its effects on my emotions like it was a zombie chasing me at the end of the world. I have numbed the pain by whatever means necessary. And I have failed. Every step I have tried to outrun this shadow has only brought me to a place where the darkness is all there is…
This year, the fourth since he died, with the encouragement from some very educated individuals I have done things just a bit differently. I have gone after the pain. I have intentionally felt through the sadness, and marinated in it. I have opened up that terrifying door that has barracaded my loss for far to long, and I’ve gone into that room. I’ve sat on the floor of that hall in a puddle of tears, clutching his Owl and blanket… and I’ve welcomed grief like the overwhelmingly itchy blanket it is. I’ve been intentional… I have grieved on purpose.
And I can see that from the outside, it could look like all this grieving, all of this intermittent celebrating of the life that no longer is, could be so terrifying to you, dear loved one, who can only listen to the pain, and have no remedy to stop it. You could see my constant posts about my dead son as a warning of a downward spiral that you’ve seen me go down before.
But I want you to know that though you see an external remedy as the only thing that will stop the pain, sitting in it is the only thing that ever will. That allowing myself to fully feel the sadness, scored by sobs and whaling, flowers, flutterbys and laughter too, is the only way to welcome the shadow of grief that now walks with me. I know it must be scary to watch and the love in your heart for me must be overwhelming. But please, don’t be afraid. For when I run and numb from this shadow, when I try to ignore it’s presence at all costs, when I try to forget… though that seems the remedy easiest attained by those around me, that is the moment that should be most terrifying.
Let me grieve in whatever way I need to. Don’t let it frighten you. For we do not heal by forgetting, we heal by remembering.
And for you who only see the tears and photos and balloons as a warning of my being “stuck in grief” please try for a moment not to judge me… for this is the only way I will ever learn to live with this shadow, and not be enveloped in its darkness forever…