Something I wish people understood is that it’s possible to laugh while you’re dying inside. Laughter doesn’t mean the grief is over. The two things can exist simultaneously.
Integration of loss and grief
Something I wish more people understood is that life after loss isn’t always about grief. Even when we do things to honor and remember our children, those things don’t come from grief alone, but from so many additional and powerful feelings.
I realized, the other day, when I was able to tell someone in such a calm manner, “My first child was stillborn”—I realized in the contrast between now and the early days, when I literally could not form those words—This feels like an unwanted new world to me. And maybe what I have forgotten, is not my son himself, but how it felt to grieve.
The death of my child is an event that lives with me; his absence is palpable; his presence is missing. And this is when I truly began to understand this monster called grief. You ask how one gets past losing a baby, and my answer is still—no. You don’t.
In the Before, I always thought of death as a sad experience, but one whose impact would eventually fade. I know now that you never really “get over” the death of someone you love; you can only integrate the loss and pain. And this is a process that is never-ending.
Integration is waking up in the morning because Peanut is hungry and needs to be changed. Integration is wondering what life would be like with a living second child. Integration is making plans for the future with acknowledgment that things may change. Integration is love AND sadness; grief AND joy. And it’s okay to have ALL of these things, and all at the same time.
I caught a glimpse of my tattoo in the mirror the other day. The days move so quickly lately, sometimes I forget it’s there. Sometimes I miss the burning underneath my skin, how it felt when everything was new.
I smile with genuine feeling. I finally feel excitement. I love her and I miss you. I realize I have given up control.
When a Type A personality grieves, at some point grief becomes her job. She finds old focus and determination. She reads books and attacks her grief with her previous energy.