The Grief Shift

I’ve been participating in Carly Marie’s #CaptureYourGrief Project on social media for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. It has been a beautiful way to explore my own grief, as well as connect with others who share this journey.

Today’s prompt was The Grief Shift. She asked, “What has your experience with grief been like? Do you think of your pain as an enemy or have you made friends with it? Do you believe you can transform the way you feel about it? Where are you currently in your grief journey? Have you had any enlightening moments that you would like to share with others?”

What has my experience with grief been?

Roller coaster seems like such a cliche answer, but it’s the most accurate. Some days are good and some are bad. And, honestly, the grief has been so different through each loss. The most true quote about grief that I have come across is, “Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” –Vicki Harrison

With our first miscarriage, Boston, I was so taken by surprise. I was gutted by the experience emotionally and physically. The lengthy process of not miscarrying on my own, hemorrhaging and a D&C seemed to make the pain drag on and on, and all the more heartbreaking. It was the first time in my life I had experienced true heartbreak; when emotional pain causes actual physical pain.  

With Max, the grief began 14 weeks before his birth. In a way, I think that preparation helped. We had quite a bit of time to prepare ourselves for his inevitable death. However, it also meant we grieved longer. While we tried to be as optimistic as possible, we’d really been grieving since the day of my 20 week ultrasound. In the beginning, I ached for him physically but spiritually I still felt him near. As time went on, my grief became worse when it didn’t feel like he was with me as much. I actually feel like I grieved the most 6-7 months later, while miscarrying again with our 3rd baby, Todd. I don’t want to say you get used to it, but I guess it’s a bit true. When we lost our little Faith earlier this year I felt like I was handling it better than I ever had.

There are periods of time that seem to last weeks, or maybe even months, when I feel like I’m handling it all fairly healthy. However, suddenly and without warning, something will cause me to plummet back into the depths of dark pain, and then I have to climb back up all over again.

Do I think of my pain as an enemy or have I made friends with it?

I think I would say that I have made peace with the necessity of it. I have learned to let the experience of grief and pain help in my healing process.

“That’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt.” - John Green
I loved this quote long before I ever truly understood it, and now it speaks to me on such a real level. You can try all you want to push away the pain of grief, but it demands to be seen, heard and felt. Why? Because we need it. Yes, it’s difficult, but it’s necessary. To grieve is to know you loved something so much, and that is beautiful.

Where am I currently in my grief journey?

Like I’ve said, this journey is a roller coaster. I think I’m currently on the lift. At the moment, I’m enjoying a time of peace and building hope for what is to come.

It’s almost Max’s birthday and angelversary, but this time of year actually brings me a lot of happiness. I put my focus on his birthday service project and spending time with loved ones for the holidays, which makes for a lot more happy tears.

Enlightened by Grief

While I desperately hope for my own children, and miss my sweet angels, I’m grateful for the empathy that my grief has awarded me. I feel like I can love deeper, serve better, and treat others with more care than I ever could have before my experiences. Grief has definitely changed me, but I ultimately feel that it has made me better.

Through every ebb and flow of grief, this is still a good life.