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Parents of lost babies and potential of all kinds: come here to share the technicolour, the vividness, the despair, the heart-broken-open, the compassion we learn for others, having been through this mess — and see it reflected back at you, acknowledged and understood.

Thanks to photographer Xin Li and to artist Stephanie Sicore for their respective illustrations and photos.

for one and all > Intense pain

I feel like I just can't take this anymore.

It has been 10 weeks since I lost my son, and my grief suddenly feels SO raw. It has been the rawest since his death. There is no fogginess or shock anymore to cover some of the pain. I feel like it is hitting me worse than it ever has. Maybe it's the void that's very real now, the fact that he's truly dead and is not coming back. I don't know. I can still function, but God, this is a new level of pain I have never felt before. I seem to just shift through intense pain and sorrow, to emptiness, to moments of calm, and then over and over again. It's really, truly awful.

I don't know how I can go on. I keep telling people things like "I can't handle this" and "I don't want this life" anymore. Because I am having trouble accepting that this is my life now. I have a good therapist I see once a week but I am starting to fear that maybe it is not enough. But at the same time I know I have to go through this intensely painful grief process and I don't want to push it aside. I have to address it.

Everyone wants me to be "strong." They have stupid expectations of me. I have always been the "strong" one in the family; in terms of work (we own a family business), to daily life. My husband needs me to put on a brave face more times than others, and I know this, because I don't want to have my grief add onto his. His grief is beginning to manifest itself into anger. It's not so much anger at me, but anger at the situation, and he takes it out through being upset with others, with shitty drivers on the road, etc.

I feel that getting pregnant again will help. It terrifies me but it is the only thought that temporarily silences this intense pain. I want to do nothing more than curl up into a ball and sob all day, away from the world. I feel so disconnected with other people. I socialize, smile and laugh, but inside I feel like complete shit. I spend much of my day sifting through posts on Glow, successful pregnancy after loss stories, trying to envision a way out of this torture. I am still doing things like cooking, being there for my husband, working...but it feels so empty. I just feel so empty and lost and shattered.

I thought time was supposed to heal, but now I find myself in such a raw, unbearable period. I just don't know what to do anymore. It's not fair that our lives have turned into hell, and there are dozens of women who were pregnant the same time I was, who all have healthy children. And mine just died from a blood clot, shockingly and suddenly. I am so bitter. It eats away at me. I look at my co-workers with such bitterness inside, wondering why they all have healthy children and I don't. Even a co-worker who I know has suffered a stillbirth at 6 months and now has a healthy child--I still hate him and his wife. Because they are ahead of me, and they have a baby and I don't. I feel alienated from everyone at work, and my husband's family, and even my own family. No one seems to understand. I know they try, but it's not enough.

I really, truly hate my life right now. I don't know how to make this pain stop.
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNada
No, it is not fair. Not at all! And it is worse pain than anyone could imagine. You are right. I am going to write down some things I have experienced and things that I have observed for you to weigh and look at, to accept or reject. Okay? I don't want you to think I am telling you how you should live or grieve. My daughter died in 1991. For some unknown reason, she could not breathe on her own and died less than an hour after birth. Just to give you my background.

At ten weeks past the death of your baby, you feel worse than ever. I think that is normal. With most things, like breaking a bone, getting a divorce, the death of an adult, smashing your thumb, you have the pain, WHAM, and then you start to adjust and heal. The loss of your son, of any child, is not like that. This loss grows roots first. The baby dies, it feels horrible and then it spreads into every nook and cranny of your life. It grows, until it is in every breath, down to the marrow of your bones and woven into your soul. Eventually, the pain stops growing for awhile. I'd say usually at about five months you catch your breath for a bit. Could be four, could be six, could be sixteen months, whenever. It is different for each of us. But your breathing space is coming, you are heading towards it. Promise. You are not crazy and you are not grieving wrong. The pain is worse than it was.

You can't handle this. You are right again. It is absolutely impossible to continue with life when the baby dies. We just happen to do it anyway. Mostly because we might as well, since our death will not bring our baby back to us. And that is the only thing that seems to matter at this point, making it so the baby didn't die.

One of the things to do at this point is to be gentle with yourself. By that I mean take care of yourself, remember to eat, sleep, exercise a bit, just a short walk. For your heart and mind to heal, your body needs to function. They are all so interconnected. Eating something decent each day will not make the pain any better. But it will set you up so that the pain can be eased. That matters, it matters a lot. Take care of yourselves, you and your husband. Treat yourselves and maybe each other to small pleasures. Don't be hard on yourself or judge yourself harshly for things you think and do. The people in your world may not realize it, but doing just that takes all the strength any person will ever have.

That empty and lost feeling? I used to call it, "Running around pretending to be myself." Some days I did it pretty well. Some days I sucked at it. I wasn't me, I did not have a clue who I was anymore. I wasn't even faking it until I made it. I was just trying to be the me I remembered. What else was there to be? Answering that question takes years. It is okay that you don't have the answer yet. Again, be gentle with your expectations.

I can tell you that you are doing the right things so far. When you see your heart and mind, body and soul reaching for help and health, as you are, that means you are doing very well. It is that reaching, that searching for peace and love that is going to save you. Such as wanting another child whether that happens now or later. People like you, like others in these forums, people who reach with their hearts open, out find what they seek. Even when the reaching feels like a lonely shout in the dark, that no one hears.

I hope some moments of peace hold you today and tonight.
January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJill A.
Nada, my heart just goes out to you. Jill has so much good advice which has been very helpful for me too (thank you). I am trying to think when I properly fell apart. I lost her in January and it was April l - so yes, about 10 weeks out. I wanted to die. I just wanted to die. It was the bleakest I've ever felt. I had another child at home to care for but I could not get out of my bed and my husband and mother had to take more time off work to take over.

Looking back, it coincided with my period returning and I wonder if there is something hormonal in it for you maybe? But aside from that, I think it is just the reality setting in, the shock wearing off as you say and the fact that people stop cutting you slack and expect you to start being strong now, when your grief journey has really just begun. Those people mean well but are utterly clueless.

I agree with Jill, your breathing space is coming. I had a period of respite after the storm has passed at your stage.
And now, for me, those peaceful periods grow longer and are more sustainable as time passes. And the moments of real desolation and despair come less frequently (always with the same intensity though, that never changes) and pass more quickly.

I don't think it's possible to force yourself to feel anything other than what you feel right now, but it is good - again, as Jill says - to eat, sleep and exercise where possible to stop yourself from slipping further and to allow healing to happen naturally.

Would you or have you considered taking medication? I did find it helped me get through the first year. Obviously this has to be balanced with TTC but a good psychiatrist should be able to help you weigh up the pros and cons. I took zoloft/sertraline which my OB was not worried about me taking in pregnancy (in the end though, we didn't TTC for two years as our relationship needed work and by that point I had weaned off the ADs) and I found it had the effect of slowing down my racing thoughts and putting some distance between them and me, so I could regain my strength. It also eased that awful, sick-to-the-stomach feeling of waking up and remembering all over again.

Before I wrote this, I was just sitting in my kitchen and thinking of you in this horrible, horrible time in your life. I realised what a curse and a gift it is to understand someone's suffering so well - I feel so much of your pain and feel so powerless to help. But I hope you feel the solidarity from all of us on here and take some comfort in the thought that time will make things more manageable. Just hold on in the meantime.
January 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCyan
Nada,

I usually start the morning with a big "my baby died" slap in the face followed by me moaning to my fiancé that "I can't do this anymore, I don't want to do this anymore". It's been 21 weeks since I lost my daughter.. and I have stopped saying 'I just want to die", for now. I wish you and I could live next door to each other because it's as if your quoting me. The aftershock and fog lifts and you can actually hear people talking to you again, you start to think clearly and are somewhat functioning and then it hits. It's as if the 'anaesthetic' has worn off and nothing is numbing that pain anymore.. the void is constantly present and the ache and the longing for that child is raw.

I'm so sick of hearing the word 'grief', before this I would only use that word casually like, 'my back is giving me grief today', WTF??! There is no way out of it. Has your husband red any articles or forums? My fiancé has just started to read bits and pieces, he actually reads the thread I posted on here too and he has found all of it (especially the dad's view) to be very helpful in that what he's thinking feeling and doing is ok.

I feel the same with getting pregnant.. I thought the 9 months with Tilly were long and hard but I'm assuming that was NOTHING compared to this thing called pregnancy after loss. I think to myself nothing can be as bad as what I've already been dealt, let's just hope it happens for both of us hey. I spend a lot of time on forums and websites, looking up stories of hope and on Instagram.. there's a mass of baby loss mums and dads out there hidden from society.

I am totally on the hate train with you.. I would get angry at undeserving parents before I lost my baby! Where I work we see the saddest cases of child neglect and abuse, then there's the parents that go all the way and murder their children.. I wish there were little receptors in peoples brains that switched off the conception process if they were a shitty person. I found I can really tolerate rainbow babies because of the heartache that the parents have been through but babies that have been handed to people on a silver platter are tough, they are better than the undeserving people though.. oh it's all sh*t really.

I don't know how to make the pain stop either, you are definitely not alone and it's unfair that your son and my daughter didn't get to have a life and we didn't get to enjoy them.

Jill A;

I just wanted to ask, how did you find support without the internet and really only home phones? So many people say to me "get off the internet and stop reading all these stories", but I don't know what I would do without this support.

I'm very sorry about your daughter. She was a year younger than me. X
January 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTilly's mum
Tilly's mum, I didn't find much support. The books I found on death and grieving did not cover dead children, usually they covered the death of a spouse. I read them anyway. Compassionate Friends, the support group for people who have lost children, didn't start in my area until 4 years of so after the death of my daughter. I had a pamphlet from the hospital and a small book of poems about baby loss. One person I knew had a stillborn child during WWII. Yes, I felt very isolated and alone. I talked, as much as I could make myself, to as many people as I could make myself open up to. I have a rule of thumb - for every one hundred people you talk to, three will say something that really hits home and helps. So I looked for those three.

The thing about, "get off the internet, stop reading those stories." For the non-babyloss people, stories of dead babies and grief bring them down. We are already down below the story of someone else's loss, so for us they have the possibility of bring us up. Of giving us one of those three out of a hundred things that helps. There will be times when you need to not be immersed in dead babies, when you need to weigh your pain in the non-loss world. And there will be times when you need to come back. That's always okay. First, you need all the support and knowledge you can get, then you need space with the ability to run back to a place like this where you are comfortable being hurt and sad and filled with pain.

That is what I think. That it is good for all of you parents to reach out, to look for and to find places and people who help you, who are not afraid of the pain. Because they share it.
January 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJill A.
Jill A., Cyan, Tilly's mom--thank you all so much for your thoughtful words and support. I have carefully read and re-read everything you have all said from your own horrific experiences, and how you have been coping with the grief. I had a really difficult day today and ended up leaving work early to just sit at the cemetery for hours, crying and writing my feelings out. I felt a lot of despair, depression, anger, but now I've snapped back to my senses and have calmed down somewhat. I really, really wanted to just die earlier today. Now, not so much, I am willing to just exist and keep going about day to day activities. I feel like it's finally, really "sinking in" that he's dead, and there's no bringing him back. And I had no control over the situation, nor a very good reason for it. Medically, I have two different theories--it was an abruption, according to my OB, but the MFM is not convinced it was an abruption, and just believes there was no actual cause found. I think that just makes my head spin even more. It makes me more liable to blame myself for everything. After all, if there really is nobody to blame, and no good objective reason that he died--of course I would want to just keep blaming myself, over and over, and digging myself a hole of grief I find it difficult to get out of.

Jill A., thank you so much for recounting your experience. You are right, the death of a baby is essentially mourning who that baby would have become in the future as well. So it just makes sense that it feels worse, and it "grows roots" and sinks in over time, as you said. I am sorry for the loss of your dear daughter. What you said really resonates with me, in terms of "running around pretending to be yourself." I, too, feel like I have been doing that every single day so far. And especially at this point, I really feel like I'm just faking it for everyone, but on the inside I am damaged and really hurting. I even have to fake it for my husband now, because he does comfort me when he can, but I feel like he too is being weighed down by his own grief, so we try to be strong for each other in-between and put on "happy faces." We are going out to eat, going to shows, going to the gym, cooking dinner, working, etc. Hopefully we can keep doing this things until they "stick," and we eventually feel genuine happiness doing them. I am eager for the time to come that I will feel a reprieve, a little breathing space. I'm not sure when that will be for me. I know I definitely need time. I am sorry that you were in a time with less connection to baby loss groups, especially online. It is great that you still reached out and found help here and there. The death of our babies is a truly, really isolating thing. The loneliness makes it worse.

Cyan, thank you for your words. It is really comforting to get advice from other loss moms and you always present a lot of logic and practicality, which I enjoy reading because I also consider myself a practical person. As well as pointing out the hormonal possibility...I actually ended up taking a pregnancy test because I have been SO moody and emotional lately, not to mention cramping and only having a day long period a week ago. But it was negative, so I suppose it's genuine grief mixed with my body still being wacky and struggling to get back to normal. I also agree with you when you say that people expect you to start getting over it. I have felt this expectation among virtually everybody, and it sucks. It feels like I no longer have a support system, save for my sisters, a friend who also had a full term stillbirth, Glow, and my therapist. I guess this is good in a way because I probably have more support than other mothers at this point after their losses. But it's upsetting that the majority of people expect me to be feeling better, when in fact, this is an immense dip. I'm not sure about zoloft. I have thought about it, but there have been some days that are easier than others where I think I don't need it to function "better" than I currently do. I'm still doing things I did before my baby died, just with intermittent pauses of grief and utter devastation in-between. I feel dreadful in-between, but I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't feel like it would significantly help me. But, I need to be open to considering it if I feel worse than I do now, and I know that--or if my worse days outnumber my okay days. I am definitely taking comfort in time. I want it to heal. I wish it could just heal me today, but I know it's not possible.

Tilly's mum, I am so very sorry for your loss. I read what happened to Tilly (beautiful name) in another post of yours. I agree with the grief...I did grieve when my dad died three years ago but this grief is very different. It's sharper, more raw, and more "silent"--you feel more alone in your grief than you would if you lost a parent, because the entire community loses their parents throughout their lives, and it's much more "normal" in that sense than losing a child. So there's automatically more support with that. With the death of our children, people just don't know what to say that will help, so they say nothing. Anyway, there is the fact that I'm dealing with being out of shock now and the awful reality settling in. I have had the constant thought that "my baby died" playing over and over in my head these past two months, but I feel like I haven't been able to comprehend it as much as I am now, and it is crushing. Yes, the thought of getting pregnant is both hopeful and terrifying. I might put off TTC for en extra two months because my husband wants us to go to Mexico together for my birthday. Asked the MFM and she told me since it's not "mosquito season" and we will be in a very dry area I should be fine with holding off for 8 weeks after our trip. I am left unsure of my feelings about that. I do want a baby, and miss being pregnant, and want to be pregnant ASAP. Anything to cover this feeling of emptiness. But I know it won't replace our lost babies, they will be siblings, if all goes well and we are blessed with healthy babies. I just think I DO need more time to grieve, at least two more months, before I even rationally think about TTC. Pregnancy after loss will be a constant panic attack the entire 9 months and after we have our babies too. So maybe I'm not ready for that yet, and that's okay.

Has this happened to anyone?--I find that the day after I see my therapist for the week, I am a total wreck. I am wondering if this is normal? It's almost as if talking to her triggers in my mind how awful of a loss this is, and all of my grief that I may have held inside or delayed comes rushing out like a breaking dam. It overwhelms me for a day, and the day after that I feel relatively better. She did warn me that because I'm talking about my son and his death, I will feel like shit, but eventually, it will be less intense.
January 27, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNada
Nada, I usually have a reaction to diving into the pain and loss and grief. It is exhausting! After a therapy session makes sense to me. In the early years, it could knock me flat. Now a days, usually not. It is usually a couple of days after the anniversary of my baby's death before I bounce back up to normal. At times over the years I have used counseling to help. The last time was three/four years ago? Some days I would take a nap afterwards.

But in the early years, where you are, concentrating on the loss would wipe me out. Talking about it, explaining what was happening to me, all of that seemed impossibly hard. Worth it, but hard. It is all so emotionally up and down and around and around. There is not even keel to be found.

Wishing you some peace today, Nada.
January 29, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJill A.
Thank you, Jill. Counseling is helping me immensely and I definitely feel exactly as you described; I get worn out immediately after and just want to nap! Sometimes I just lay in bed immediately after, or the day after, with little to no energy to do anything except grieve and be sad. I guess in a way my mind is being trained to save my therapy sessions and immediately afterwards for the most intense grieving. Yes, it really does wipe me out focusing on the loss so much. I'm finding it's better now to sometimes distract myself and not constantly think about my son's death. After I grieve, scream, cry, I feel better...but I get so depleted. I know in time there will be a balance. I am looking forward to that. I wish you peace as well.
January 31, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNada