Strength in Grief

Strength in GriefI’ve gone through the grief process associated with miscarriage several times now.  Each time is a bit different and as my maturity and life changes, the process changes a bit too.  It’s never easy and for someone like myself who feels things deeply, it can be overwhelming and feel devastating.

The loss of a child who had just started to grow within your womb is a hard one to understand for those who have not been through it.  People often have no idea how to express their concerns or feelings of empathy.  Some of your family and friends just ignore it almost entirely because they don’t want to upset you.  Others will do little things to comfort you or just be there while you vent.  This can be a double-edged sword because you need to talk about the loss, but are sometimes relieved when no one forces you to.

When you reach that ever looming stage of anger, you can be surprised who you direct that anger towards.  There can be a maddening rage over anyone whose pregnant, recently had a baby, or those who just ignored your loss all together.  You can direct your anger towards yourself and the body you feel failed your baby.  You will at some point likely cast anger on your spouse, wondering why they don’t feel or express their anger, frustration, and pain the same way you do.  It’s all normal, and it’s okay to feel these things.  They way you direct your anger, hurt, and loss is the most important aspect.

For me, I can sometimes wallow in my pain for weeks.  I’ll let myself fall into a depression that I lose all strength to climb out of.  Laying on the couch, not really watching whatever happens to be on the television.  No desire to eat, feel, or talk.  Just numb to life and what is going on in it.  Or I will switch into overdrive staying constantly occupied with something, anything, to take my mind off the pain.

The trouble with overdrive mode is that you crash…hard.  All the physical exertion to avoid the mental pain leads to exhaustion both physically and mentally.  I stayed in overdrive this time, until I crashed.  Dead tired, just so exhausted mentally and physically.  It hit me late last week and I couldn’t distract myself anymore.  I’d been crying in the shower, over the washer, anywhere I was alone.  And suddenly, crying was all I could do.  My empty womb was all I could think about.  The idea that I may never carry another child successfully hit me hard.  As I sorted through my children’s closets and packed away outgrown clothes I realized that there might not be another child to wear them.  Still, I folded them neatly, labeled the bin with the size and contents, and added them to the ever-growing stash of outgrown baby things in my basement.

I grieved, and then I decided to push forward because those clothes were not going to go unworn.  That currently unused crib, rocker, swing, and all those bins of baby clothes would be worn again.  I had prayed on it, thought about it, talked about it, and it was going to happen somehow.

While I may be quite experienced in dealing with the grief of a lost child, it has created a strength and determination in me that did not exist before.  If I want something, I figure out a way to make it happen.  While the number of children I have lost is higher than the number of children I have living, I really don’t give up.  To me, that means I have yet another angel looking over my family.  Another little miracle worker to make the impossible happen and to bring forth more happiness and light in our lives.

The healing that takes place after miscarriage is often a long process.  Your body often heals long before your heart.  You’ll go through days where you’re okay and you’ll go through days where you need to let yourself grieve and process all the emotions that have been thrust upon you.  It isn’t a road with a clear path and the outcome can often be surprising.

What I’ve learned is that you have to let yourself feel it all to heal.  It’s messy and it’s often scary, but in the end, you’ll come out okay.  You’ll likely be changed, but you can work to use it to your advantage instead of letting it consume you.

Stop Yelling and Start Talking: Marriage After Children

Can you still remember the way you felt about your spouse when you first met?  I remember very vividly the feelings of ‘falling in love’.  A magical, euphoric whirlwind that embodied our first weeks, even months, together.  There really isn’t another feeling like it and it’s one that many of us continue to chase after, to keep the rush, the high, going.

The days tick by, then the months, the years.  You wed, many times you add a child or a few to the mix.  Over time the person that you knew wholly inside and out feels like a stranger.  The space across the bed seems very far.  You become nervous to reach out and touch the person whose chest you fell asleep on every night. Somehow the person that you created a family with feels foreign to you.  And you reach a crossroads.

AcrosstheBedIf you’re committed to your spouse, to the vows you made to one another, you long desperately to fix what feels broken.  You still feel love.  The nervous feelings of a new relationship return, but are tinged with loneliness, desperation, and thankfully hope.  Maybe your loneliness and hurt turn to anger and you start to lash out against the same person you so desperately long to be close to again.  Maybe it turns to indifference as you feel like this is how it is – that ‘growing up’  (or growing old together) just changes things.  But deep down, those feelings of falling in love are still there.  And if you put forth the effort, they can strengthen and grow instead of weakening or fading all together.

When you’re new parents, all your energy is focused on your children.  It’s no longer a priority to ‘impress’ your spouse or make time for one another.  Perhaps it should be.  If you aren’t strong in your marriage, you aren’t as strong in your parenthood.  Taking time for each other is as important as taking time for your children and togetherness as a family.

This is where I admit what I don’t want to – my relationship was growing weak.  I was filled with resentment and had turned my hurt to anger.  I was not ‘just mommy’.  I did not want to be seen as ‘just their mom’.  I was longing for him to see me as the person he changed his world for.  I needed to know and to feel that he still saw the untamed spirit in my eyes.  I didn’t want to feel like my husband was a stranger anymore.  Yes, we had changed, but at the core, we were and are the same.

And so, instead of continuing to stew in my anger, I stopped yelling and started talking.  I voiced what I felt and explained what I needed.  I asked to be told what he felt and what he needed.  I asked him to walk down memory lane with me and tell me what memories he holds on to – and shared mine with him.  Memories of the same life, felt differently, but remembered fondly.  In doing so, the euphoric feelings returned.  The late night giggles and the “I can’t believe we did that(s)” brought us back to one another.  It all came back fast.  And it doesn’t have to end or change.  It can grow.

EachOthersYou are not ‘just a mother’ and he is not ‘just a father’.  You are each others.  You can be a solid fortress of support and strength for each other and your children.  You can still be ‘that’ couple.  A room full of people and when your eyes lock – no one else exist.  The knowing glances, the shiver the goes up your arm and down your spine when he touches your hand and pulls you close to him.  You are his – this love is your’s to share.  Envelop yourselves in it, feel it to your core, and do not give up on each other.

This is our love, this was the seed that was planted somewhere in time before we ever met.  And we’re choosing to nurture it, to feel it, to grow it.  This is ours…