If I’ve learned anything in the past 4 years, it is that, despite appearances, we have NO idea what anyone else is going through. All we tend to see is what is on the surface, and the few other glimpses people choose to share. And sometimes, what is shared is far from reality
Permission to do and be whatever you need after loss
I used to feel so much pressure to perform; to meet a certain standard at work and in life. And the worst part was, the bulk of this pressure was internal; something I demanded of myself. And then my son died, and I realized I didn’t have it in me to keep up with these illusory standards.
We can sometimes feel a heavy cultural obligation to find a silver lining in every loss, and to hold onto the adage that there is always something to be thankful for. he truth, though, is that this isn’t always the case.
In case you need permission—you never have to celebrate if you’re not feeling up to it. Holidays are and always can be optional. Give yourself the time and space to spend these days however you need.
It doesn’t matter how far along you were. It doesn’t matter if there was anything “wrong” with the baby or if he or she would not have been compatible with life. It doesn’t even matter how many other children you have, either before or after your loss. You are ALWAYS allowed to feel what you need.
You’ve probably heard that word a lot lately: “You’re so brave; I don’t know how you do it.” And it maybe feels a bit disingenuine. What does “brave” even mean? You don’t have to be brave.
I was sitting with the patient advocate, and I was surprised to see the tears in his eyes, and they weren’t entirely for me. It turns out he had also lost a child to stillbirth—30 YEARS AGO. And he STILL grieved. Because there is no time limit on grief.
Plenty of people going through loss and grief find themselves struggling, months or even years later, and THAT’s OKAY. Loss and grief are hard. No one is required to overcome their pain or transform their struggles into anything.
In reality, victims don’t have to fit a prescribed narrative. Tragedy and loss are hard, and real people handle these things in unique and individual ways.
People are going to feel uncomfortable about death and grief…It’s not your job to comfort people who become discomfited by hearing your story. That’s on them.
Feelings aren’t required to be rational or reasonable, nor to follow anyone else’s expectations. I have the right to feel how I feel, for as long as I feel it, regardless of circumstances or whether someone else feels differently.
One of the more important things I’ve learned is that if what you’re feeling is authentic, then it’s valid, no matter what. Feelings don’t have to follow rules; they just exist.
I’ve seen so many people begin a post about grief with phrases like, “This may sound odd,” or “Sorry if this is weird.” I’ve decided I’m going to stop doing that. Grief doesn’t have to be reasonable. Death certainly isn’t.
Pain and grief can make outsiders uncomfortable, and sometimes they may urge you to heal and be your positive self again. This is a reminder that you are always allowed to feel however you need to.
It’s a common saying: “It’s okay to not be okay as long as you don’t stay that way.” I disagree. Why do we put a time limit on reality? It’s only when we recognize that ALL feelings are valid, that we have the space we need to make genuine change. And even then, change is optional. It has to be.