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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 > it's been a long time

it's been a very long time since i've been here. i couldn't even guess when my last post was. well, perhaps a year or more ago.

it's been 2 1/2 years since Oliver left this world. 2 1/2 years since i was directed to this website and poured my heart into this forum. and somehow i have lost the ability to give myself the freedom to grieve. i stifle sobs and hold back tears. life has been okay for the past year. yes, my sweet boy is gone and his father and i split up, but so many things have brought me some kind of happiness. i can burst out laughing, which i was sure was gone forever. (it's not often but sure feels good when it does happen.) i have locked eyes with my Savior and found a truly beautiful and welcoming home at church. (it's so awesome how my mom friends see me as a mom just like them.)

but why do i feel the need to push sadness aside? it's not the fault of my new faith, because our pastor talks very openly about how healing grief can be. it must be some screwed-up expectation that i'm putting on myself. like if i let myself fall apart for a day or two, every bit of growth will just be erased. i'm okay now (mostly) (somewhat) (sort of). i'm learning to embrace this new single, childless life. or at least feel content with it. and yet . . . my one-and-only love is so far out of reach.

my question is: how do the other veterans or kinda-veterans juggle the more content life with the grieving days or weeks? do you allow yourself to fall apart for a little while? do you feel that you're going backwards when you do? and how do you life this "yeah, i'm fine" veil and just let your grief spill?

March 21, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterald (alison)
I don't know what is currently blocking you from grieving, Alison. Could be the fear of losing all of that hard won healing. I wouldn't doubt that. For me, I was afraid of the pain. Remember how awful it hurt at first? The pain, mind, body, heart and soul. That pain almost defeated me. I was afraid to grieve because I swore I would never be in that kind of pain again. Twenty five years later, I have no clue how I thought I was going to control that, but anyway. :-D

I got to the point that it sounds like you are at, where I couldn't sit and cry and grieve even when I wanted to and needed to. Like around the anniversary or holidays. What I did/still do, is set up a time and place where I feel safe and then use something else to get me sad and crying. Like the scene where Beth dies in Little Women. After the internet took off, I often look at The Welcome Home Blog. It is videos of our members of the armed services surprise their loved ones for their homecoming. I don't care if it is spouse, kids, parents, dogs, I'll cry.

Once I'm sad and crying, all tears lead to my daughter. Then it is easy to think of her and cry and wish and mourn. But I have to use something first, to break down that wall of fear and just the plain, ingrained habit of emotional control. I need something that says, "Okay. This is it. You are allowed to grieve now. Get the tissues."

I remember you and Oliver from your previous posts, Alison. It is good to hear your words again. Peace to you. I hope you find your way to tears.
March 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJill A.
Alison, I am one who definitely only allows grief to come at certain times. When Shelby first died (I'm 5 years out now) and in the year that followed I was a mess and I would fall apart as soon as I thought of her (which was all the time). I wanted to go back to work and feel confident I could hold my shit together for the 6 hours I had classes in front of me (I'm a teacher so I couldn't just run to the bathroom if the tears started flowing).

My therapist suggested seeing my thoughts more as passing, like a cloud blowing by, or a leaf flowing down a creek. See the grief, feel sad for that moment and then move on, let it float past. This was essential for me to live day to day life.

The only time I now allow myself to fall apart is the month of Shelby's birthday. I struggle for the week leading up to it and it is hard for me to bounce back afterwards but the reality is that I still miss her so much and am sad to not have her with me. I just can't get lost in that emotion all the time without it affecting my day to day life. And I need to keep it together for work, for my living kids and for my own sanity.

I think you just need to do what feels right. If you want to cry, cry. If you don't, don't feel guilty for that. One of the best things my therapist said was that the amount you grieve isn't any reflection on how much you love your baby. So I think if you want to cry, try to give yourself space and time to do so but don't feel like you have to. If you are finding joy and happiness and the grief isn't coming as hard or as often that's a good thing. my goal has always been to think of Shelby with more love than sadness. I'm not there yet but maybe one day.
March 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterShelby's Mum
I remember you and it is nice to see you posting again...
certainly we all can relate to not wanting to feel the pain of grief. you find an equilibrium and the thought of losing it again or to re-do steps is very undesirable. I don't see avoiding it as something that is very sustainable, because the grief- the need to express your feelings- it will come on so strong so that you either have to do an intense and powerful job of stuffing it, or it will come back at very inconvenient times, and it always comes back- I do suspect that grief that is ignored can cause physical effects, like, illnesses or at the very least, stress and melancholy & depression...

my therapist told me that when I felt sadness or bad memories or whatever related to what happened coming up, at the wrong time, like, when I was waitressing... to address it with a quick thought and promise "ok, I hear you, grief, and I can't do it now but I promise I will get back to you tonight or tomorrow in the shower...". so sometimes it is totally fine and healthy and practical to put off those uncomfortable feelings until a better time. i'd get home from work and sit on the couch and watch a stupid show and cry then. sometimes not even cry... just feel, like totally exhausted and bummed out, too tired to cry but the grief was on top of me like a heavy blanket. then, it would pass, like what Shelby's mum was talking about.

sometimes a song that reminded me of her would come on the radio and I would start meandering down sad-memory lane in my head and before you knew it I would be crying hot tears and my face beet red, showing up for work, totally not good. those times I just had to suck it up and hope it didn't happen again.

I was afraid of what would happen if I did NOT allow myself to fully grieve. I thought it would make me sick or make it worse, so I just plodded thru the worst of those first years and finally at some point I felt I had some kind of 'control' over the level and intensity of the feelings I was feeling.

it makes total sense that when your life is hitting some pretty good spots- feeling joyful laughter, feeling companionship and friendship, finding a good church, all great things for you, and why would you want to "go there" with the sadness and tears and grief if you are currently in a nice place in life? I don't think there is anything really wrong wit what you are describing... grief and loss do not have to be like badges of courage or pain that we have to drag along us like a penance. it is ok to have life again, without actively grieving, I mean, that really is a goal, actually. it does not mean you are hiding or being unhealthy in your grief process (which, I believe, is a lifetime thing rather than a btdt & its over thing).

one of the issues I had, I mean, when I was feeling good and life was rolling along in a somewhat enjoyable way- I would do 2 things... 1) worry that other people would think I was over it and what had happened really was no big deal and to be forgotten about and gotten over (which made me so mad because I was really protective of this idea that she would ever be erased or that she didn't matter), and then 2) judge myself for having good days and laughing and planning and otherwise moving along with life. I would feel like I was betraying her memory... how could I, of all people, laugh when she was dead?. sometimes I would forget to turn off the (loud) radio if a good song was on, while I drove into the cemetery to visit her grave, and I would get so angry and embarrassed at myself, like I was some rude jackass, singing along to katy perry (haha) while my daughter was lying there in her coffin, a few feet away. what was wrong with me?!!

but the thing is, for sure, life does happen and go along, despite the tragedy. we want that. we want some nice things to happen and some relief from the obviously-never-going-to-go-away fact that we had a baby die.

I guess what I am trying to say is that, it seems like you are very aware of oliver. he is your son, you have not managed to find some secret way to wash the memories away like poof it never happened (how sad would that be, really?). you think of him, you are his mom, no matter what. if you are not crying, and it feels like that is something bad, I mean, you have to just examine why- is it because you feel guilty for having some good things happen in your life, or afraid that they might be affected by your grief circling around again? are you mentally pushing it away? I mean, I think you could find a way to figure out if the lack of tears is an issue that could indeed be addressed with a counselor or maybe even at the church, or if it is simply the way you are finding balance and the patterns of your 'new normal' life, not so far past that acute time of early grieving.

just as an aside, I usually find that I "allow" myself time to grieve or think or self-trigger or whatever, when I am alone in the car on fairly long drives. it seems like a safe spot for my mind to meander over issues and memories that for whatever reason are needing to be re-thunk. I don't know how many times I will have to think about certain events before I can release them, but to be honest, I have gone over and over some memories hundreds of times, no idea why, but I am guessing it is because there is something about the memory that needs addressing. to let go of a feeling, or to heal some aspect, I have no idea, so when I find myself tearing up and repeating conversations I had with my midwife, 12 years later, over and over again, I mean, I just do it and then i might cry some or get in a dark mood, but it passes, just like that cloud that shelby's mum talked about. you might want to think about that, just finding a safe time or place when you are willing to allow oliver-related thoughts to come up and see what happens. as usual, a long-worded reply, rambling on. i am glad to read that you are doing well and glad that you checked in.
March 24, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterss