This post is part of a series of posts in honor of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Today’s post comes from Zoie of TouchstoneZ: Gentle Parenting and Mindful Living off the Mat. You can learn more about Zoie at the end of this post.
It may not get better, but it does become different.
It has been four years since my daughter was stillborn. It is hard to grasp that so much time has gone by. It is difficult to understand how drastically different my life has changed in these last four years.
I have had two more sons since then-two sons who I would not have if my daughter had been born healthy. I have never been able to reconcile my longing for her to be with me, knowing that it would mean not having my sons. Nor could I embrace being fully with my sons since it meant letting go of my daughter.
The pain of being unable to reconcile the desire for all of my children to be here me hasn’t gotten any easier over the years. And I don’t think it ever will.
I’ve heard people say that time heals or that the grief of loss will become less over time. I haven’t found this to be the case. It hurts just as much now as on the day she died. I can return to any of those moments and feel the ripping pain whenever I want to. Sometimes I can feel it when I don’t want to.
The only difference four years out, is in the immediacy of the experiences. More often now, I can choose not to think it about it or feel it. The practice of compartmentalizing the grief eventually becomes easier, until it is almost second nature. I even look like someone not holding on to any sadness or pain at all.
Others may find that the pain is less, but there is no guarantee of that. There’s also no valuation or judgment of either method of coping with grief. It just needs to be allowed to happen.
When I talk to other mothers grieving for their lost babies, I don’t want to tell them that it will always hurt. Nor do I want to tell them that it will get better. The first feels unfathomable and overwhelming in a situation already describable in those terms. The second can feel like a negation of their loss or a betrayal of the personhood of their baby. Neither may be true for them. Or both may be true. Or another experience entirely.
So, when I am asked about how the pain of loss feels over time, I simply say, “It may not get better, but it does become different.”
Zoie is a hippy mama to three boys on earth and one girl who soars. She waggles her toes near the San Francisco Bay and wiggles her fingers at TouchstoneZ: Gentle Parenting and Mindful Living off the Mat. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.