The shock of loss is one of the most profound perspective shifting traumas I have ever endured. I’m learning there’s a gift through loss if you are open to it.
The gift of vulnerability.
I admit to being one of those hardened single moms. I know I’m not the only one and that’s the sad reality of families that transition. I felt strong and independent. I was making ends meet with family support. I was making my own choices and doing my own thing. Letting someone in was the hard part. With the boyfriend that was consistently choosing me, no matter how hard I pushed him away, I was constantly on guard, and looking for him to fail me.
When we lost our children, I was completely vulnerable. I was lost and directionless. In the past week and a half, I wasn’t looking for anything as grief worked through us, but I found every time I started crying, strong arms wrapped around me and cradled me. He took care of me, making sure I ate, and seeing to all of my needs. I stopped looking for failure and discovered he’s a better man than I deserve for the way I’ve treated him.
Problems that seemed to be insurmountable are now insignificant after going through our loss while holding hands.
Finding strength through adverse reactions.
I am a strong woman with an intense personality. This is who I am and I am content with defying what is expected of me. I’ve learned that my strength can inspire and offset others. I’ve had people tell me they needed me to help them through my loss in the past week.
Finding your voice sometimes means saying nothing.
I’ve had people push their needs on me, and I’ve decided it’s not my job to make others feel better about how I feel or what I am going through. Sometimes that means ignoring calls. I’m the only one that can decide how I grieve and what will comfort me.
Connection is healing.
I was lucky to find Natural Grace Funerals. They have picked our babies up from the hospital and will cremate them for us. Aside from the crematory fee, they work pro bono for miscarried children. When I spoke with the director, she told me that she is also a mother to twins. We shared a moment of knowing that no matter how small they were, this was something I need to do and as a mother, she felt the same way. We’ll release them into the ocean.
Earlier this week, I went to Armstrong Garden Center to look for the Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow bushes we will plant in their memory. My boyfriend likes purple and I do too. I saw the plants in my neighborhood growing up and the idea of seeing them and thinking of our children (we named them Sunny and Rain) was comforting. I was asking questions of one of their staff and told her about the miscarriage. As I was leaving, she handed me a couple of crystal angels with purple wings as a gift to keep my angels near me. Other than the plant, I never discussed purple or that I have a lavender scrapbook for them. She told me about a friend that had just lost a 15 year old child and we shared a hug and tears.
Connecting with someone else is healing for me, but being open to the words she offered and the hug that came with it was healing for her as well. Connection is what binds us through our community and with our humanity.
Letting go can feel natural.
I’ve been purging junk all week. It started with heavy weeding in the garden. Then I started clearing out things in the storage shed, and laundry room. I started cleaning out things in the house. For so long I held onto junk.
When I worked at a mini storage, a woman once told me that she had to go through her mother’s things because she was tired of making monthly installments on delayed grief.
I was doing that too.
I finally went through that plastic bin full of pictures and sorted out what was mine and my ex’s, and each of the kids. I set aside family pictures and wedding things for the kids because who we were as a couple is part of their identity. They’ll want that one day. As I was cleaning out the bathroom, I realized I still had a bottle of the ex’s shampoo and I realized it didn’t hurt to let go. It felt liberating.
For the twins, I had started a scrapbook and today I will complete it and put it on the shelf. I won’t wait to process it all. It’s painful. There is so much longing and I miss the feeling of life inside of me, but I can’t be the mother my sons need if I’m intentionally waiting to live again. I’ll celebrate the process and really enjoy the memory of the time I had with them, but then I will give myself permission to let go and to cry, as I have been. Sometimes several times an hour.
Grief and loss are natural, but not normal.
As I know this pain will ease up and pass as life cycles with change, transition and rebirth, I also know that I’m where I need to be. I need to feel the loss. I need to accept I will not always have a smile on my face. At the same time, there has been laughter. It’s not that I can forget my babies or compartmentalize my feelings. Life is full of variance and joy comes with the pain. I’m experiencing each moment as it comes, specifically staying away from alcohol or anything that would numb my feelings.
Sometimes there’s laughter. Sometimes there’s tears. Sometimes I cling to my boyfriend with intense desperation because I can’t handle the surprise gut punches that remind me I’ve lost something wonderful and incredible. What I’m feeling is completely natural, but life only offers moments of grief every so often. We are built to get through it to appreciate the lows as well as the highs, but it’s not constant. This pain is natural, but living in it constantly would make it normal and that would take away from what we are given to grow through. And I’m growing through it.