Write Your Grief

Title: Write Your Grief | overlaid on image of mountains in Kaua'i

In January of 2018, I was foundering. I had just moved to a new city, I was sad and lonely, and I felt torn between throwing myself into the world and cuddling around my grief as the only thing that felt familiar to me.

A few months prior, a friend had mentioned a writing program that she felt helped her explore her grief. At the time, I was writing so much I didn’t think I needed any additional prompting, but I kept it in mind.

In January of 2018, I was reminded of this program, and I decided I needed to try something new. The following posts are the result of my thirty days of participation in this course, plus a handful of the monthly prompts that followed. Some entries are long, some are short. Some are 3rd or 4th or 7th drafts. A few days, I didn’t write at all, although I always read every prompt and sat with it. Writing can be painful. It was a pain I needed.

If you are interested in trying this course for yourself, please visit Refuge in Grief. I highly recommend it.

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29 Jan 2018 – Grief

I used to think that grief was this sad time that followed the death of someone you loved. I never imagined it was really this new layer, this new identity. I never imagined the loss I was grieving would include the loss and rebirth of me.

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Miranda on the Pacific Coast 1 - Feature

30 Jan 2018 – The Second Death

She was probably the most innocent person in the room. And that’s funny, I guess, because she was so incredibly book smart.

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31 Jan 2018 – Choice

When my son died, it tore a hole inside of me. It re-framed all of my thoughts about death.

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Sunset over the California desert - Feature

1 Feb 2018 – Photos

In the black-and-white photos, he looks like he’s sleeping. Photos are difficult; they don’t tell the whole story.

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Miranda with Adrian's First Blanket - SQ

2 Feb 2018 – Elephant Onesies

I peeked under a bit. I wanted that smell. I wanted something stronger than the silence at his birth.

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Miranda and Elephant on the Pacific Coast, California (Synch Media)

2 Feb 2018 – Grief is a Mother, Too

Death has never been my friend. The necessity of her existence is no more comfort than my own. I don’t hate her, but I look at her the way she looks at Disease. We are all harbingers. We all bring Pain.

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Hiking the Sleeping Giant Trail, Kapaa, Kaua'i, Hawai'i

3 Feb 2018 – The Kindest Thing

I am probably one of those ghosting stories that people complain about on social media. I am probably that person who just disappeared, and people are wondering, “What happened? What did I do wrong?”

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Tree branch in California - Feature

5 Feb 2018 – Akhilandeshvari

I don’t claim to be an especially deep person. I don’t worship; I don’t find comfort or need in that setting. But beyond those feelings, gods and the mystic have always fascinated me.

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AdrianHernandez_newborn-6 - Feature

6 Feb 2018 – Regret

Your donor has brown eyes. So do I. I still wonder if yours would have been green or violet or newborn baby blue. I still wonder if I should have waited just one more moment longer–surely you were only sleeping?

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Palm trees over the Pacific Ocean - Feature

7 Feb 2018 – Beauty

This instinct for planning is painful to me. The best parts of my future are still achingly incomplete. I didn’t find him here because I carried him with me. I carry him and the world and the world is so heavy.

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Julia Pfeiffer Burns Plant1 - Feature

7 Feb 2018 – Tests

So many people run away from my questions, but I still have questions, I deserve more than this.

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Keālia Beach 1 - Feature

8 Feb 2018 – Prickly

Sometimes I need comfort, and I lash out instead. I am not your typical victim. I am so very angry.

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A seagull over the Pacific Ocean - Feature

9 Feb 2018 – No

Nobody tells you that stillbirth is a possibility. I still remember, even while screaming, that I was thinking about the three other women in that testing room, and how I must have been their shocking introduction to the fact that babies die.

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Miranda on the Pacific Coast 2 - Feature

10 Feb 2018 – This is How I Feel About Life

You asked me to this party, but you don’t want my casserole. It’s too heavy; it’s filling. It doesn’t fit your theme.

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Sunset over Arizona - Feature

12 Feb 2018 – Hard Things

Because I think love includes talking about hard things. Because I think love includes telling someone, “When you fall on hard times, I am here for you. When things go terribly wrong, I won’t run away.”

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Lakeside in Incline Village 1 - Feature

13 Feb 2018 – The Condition of my Heart

I write a lot about this concept of numbness. I think that before, I would have described it as a lack of feeling. “I am empty, I am numb.” I realize today it’s something quite different.

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Lakeside in Incline Village 3

14 Feb 2018 – I love you. Please.

There was a time when I was broken. (I’m still broken). There was a time when I struggled to get out of bed. (I still struggle to get out of bed). There was a time when all of this was so much harder / more immediate. There was a time when I needed help with almost everything. But not all things. I still remembered how to eat and go to the bathroom. I still knew how to put on my own clothes.

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Pacific Coast in California 1 - Feature

18 Feb 2018 – I Love You

I want to wish you happiness, but I don’t know if you want that. I didn’t want happiness after the death of my son. It felt disloyal.

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Miranda on the Pacific Coast in California 3 - Feature

18 Feb 2018 – Memories

I remember every moment of my pregnancy. I remember every moment of my son’s short life. I remember conception and ultrasounds and morning sickness. I remember every tiny kick and movement. I treasure these things. I treasure these memories. 

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Incline Village, North Lake Tahoe - Feature

20 Feb 2018 – Time

I feel unusual in the way that I’ve been counting. I’ve never kept elaborate timelines. My cousin’s wife reminded me when 30 days had passed. I was visiting, and her words took the breath out of me. It always feels like yesterday.

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North Star Resort - Feature

20 Feb 2018 – Flight

I found the snow again today. I found flight, and I’m spinning, and it all came back so easily. And I watch as the children go flying down the mountain, and everything feels empty.

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Keālia Beach 2 - Feature

20 Feb 2018 – Unspoken

I know what you want to talk about. I know how it pains you when others try to chase your words away. It isn’t a question of guilt. It’s fact — if you had chosen to listen, I would be alive.

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Birds on the Pacific Coast in California - Feature

22 Feb 2018 – Fuck

I wrote a letter to Target a while back. I still find myself walking through the baby aisles, thinking about things I would be buying. Should be buying. I should have a living son.

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Miranda's belly, nine months postpartum - Feature

24 Feb 2018 – A Letter to My Belly

You sheltered him for nine months. You expanded with him, kept him safe. I watched you grow stretch marks, tiger stripes. I talked to him through you. I never thought to say thank you.

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Sleeping Giant Trail 1 - Feature

25 Feb 2018 – That Day

I hate talking about these memories, because everyone is quick to tell me that it wasn’t my fault. Screw that! I don’t care about fault. I want to share my story. I want to remember the last week of my son’s life. I want to share these things that complicate how I feel about his death. I want to remember that this experience wasn’t entirely sunshine and roses. I want to remember what was real.

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Pinecrest Lake 1 - Feature

26 Feb 2018 – The Nuclear Bomb

I’ve often said that those of us who have experienced tragedy live in a new layer of existence. It’s the thing that defines us now, that marks this transition to this separate world. And I almost said “different” there instead of “separate,” but this is another defining characteristic; because the only thing that is different is each of us. Because we are a world inside of a world, and we are the only ones who know.

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Sunset over the Pacific 1 - Feature

26 Feb 2018 – Nuclear Bomb Part 2

I call it a nuclear bomb. It’s a conversation ender. You meet someone, you’re making good small talk, and then they ask about your family. I will never deny my son. He is a permanent part of me. And so it happens — I tell them, “Yes, I have a child. He died shortly before he was born.” And everything stops. It’s no longer a casual conversation.

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Chalk drawings on the sidewalk (Miranda Hernandez)

18 Mar 2018 – Someone Else’s Birthday

I feel your absence in my breathing. I wait for footsteps just around the bend. I hug your ashes and I think, “None of this is real. When I have paid my penance, I will hold you.”

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Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Big Sur, California (Miranda Hernandez)

22 May 2018 – I only write to ghosts. You must be one of them

You were more than pain. You swept into my life and your presence promised happiness. And I hated that, because happiness wasn’t something I wanted to know. And I hate it more now, standing here, awake and oh so lonely. And this pain isn’t comforting. And this new life feels broken.

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Seagulls on the California coast (Miranda Hernandez)

27 May 2018 – Fairytales

I should know better. Because life is not a fairytale. I should know better, because you’re a person, just like me. And I realize I put the weight of my expectations on something that was only fleeting. And now it’s too heavy. I’m sorry it got heavy.

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Miranda on the California coast (Miranda Hernandez)

28 May 2018 – Planet Miranda

I didn’t ask to live here. I loved Sunshine. I had so many plans. I built my peaceful house there. But my key doesn’t fit.

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Sunset on the California coast (Miranda Hernandez)

2 Jun 2018 – Peace

This year has been hard for me, but it’s been a clean kind of hard. Most people understand grief is a thing. Most people understand pain surrounding death. I don’t think most people understand what happens afterwards.

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Miranda on the California coast (Synch Media)

21 Jun 2018 – The After

After he died, after that scream, I shattered. It wasn’t that time flowed differently. It was a completely different life.

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Miranda at dusk (Synch Media)

28 Jul 2018 – A Letter from the In-Between

I tell people I’m lonely. They tell me I should get a hobby. I wish it could be a hobby to be sad and also surrounded by your friends. I’m not actively suicidal.

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Miranda on the shore of Lake Tahoe, California (photo used with permission)

23 Aug 2018 – Windows

I see her on the other side of the glass, and my heart breaks for what we both have that the other needs.

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Sunlight through the trees, North Lake Tahoe, California (Miranda Hernandez)

25 Aug 2018 – Amy Anne

I fed her shredded chicken with my fingers this morning. The vet prescribed her steroids. She actually has an appetite. I gave her a piece of my blueberry scone. I guess it doesn’t matter now what’s good for her in the long run.

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Amy's collar (Miranda Hernandez)

12 Sep 2018 – Three Dishes

I never had to face this choice with Adrian. I never had to hold him, breathing; weigh impossible odds. I didn’t have to look into eyes gone soft and full of hurting. I didn’t get to hold his living body in my arms.

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Matthiola flowers on the California coast (Miranda Hernandez)

26 Sep 2018 – Dear Grace

You are turning one next week, and I feel jealous. You are turning one, and my son won’t be here to send you a sloppy scribbled birthday card. You are turning one, and I am aching, and I realize that I miss your mother. I miss her, but I’m still not ready to be friends.

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The first blanket and baby toy Miranda purchased for Peanut (Miranda Hernandez)

29 Oct 2018 – Baby Things

When my son was stillborn at 41 weeks, I came home to a complete nursery. All of his clothes were washed and sorted, his diapers laid out next to wipes and creams. And maybe it sounds counterintuitive, but I was thankful.

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Limp hand holding a cell phone

26 Mar 2019 – The Worst Thing That Never Happened

  This is quite possibly the darkest thing I’ve ever written. Please note that the following screenshots are simulated tweets. This is the timeline of an event that never happened.     FacebookTweetPinPrintEmail

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