Grief is heavy, it is exhausting, it is unpredictable. I think the unpredictability of it is probably the scariest part. You could feel okay one moment and the next you feel the weight of it as heavy as it was the day it began.
Whether you are grieving your child, like I am. Your parent, grandparent, sibling, a family member, or a friend, I am so sorry that you came across this page. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned in my grief journey, I hope you can find them useful for yours as well.
It’s okay to not be okay
THIS! Give yourself permission to not be okay. It’s been hard for me to come to this conclusion. I am a stay at home mama to two small children. Two small children who rely on me for everything.
I think a lot of my struggle has been fighting to just be okay for them, to not cry in front of them, for them not to see me sad. But you know what? I’ve stopped fighting it. If I have to cry in front of them, I do. And of course they see me and they ask why I’m crying. So I tell them.
They hug me and tell me that everything will be okay. And then they move on. And everything is fine. I’ve stopped trying to hide my grief from them. I’ve stopped trying to hide my grief from everyone, really.
And if someone feels uncomfortable or doesn’t like it, too bad, don’t be my friend if you don’t want to hear about it :).
It’s okay to take time for yourself
Sometimes, I want to bear all of the familial and home responsibilities simply because I don’t want to give up control. I like control, I like predictability, and I like things being done my way! Haha but recently I’ve started to release some of that control and let my husband take over a few things. And you know what, THE WORLD IS STILL TURNING! Maybe the girls’ hair is not done perfectly or their outfits don’t match, or dinner isn’t the healthiest meal. But that is okay. We are still alive, and you know what it feels good to have some of the pressure of perfectionism lifted off of my shoulders.
Almost every Monday evening, my husband takes both of the girls to his parents house to spend time and eat dinner there. I’ve learned that this time has become sacred to me. It is my time to wine down and be still in my home, BY MYSELF! It is so rare for me to be by myself ever, so this time is amazing to me.
Something else I have been doing a bit more of is getting massages, facials, and girls’ nights outs regularly. As a mama, I can sometimes feel guilty when I do something for myself. But not anymore because I have felt the difference when I actually do get time for myself. It is so necessary for my mental health and I won’t feel guilty about it anymore.
It’s okay that you are not the same person you once were
This is something that I’ve had to come to terms with, because I haven’t felt like myself for almost a year now. About this time last year, I got pregnant with our baby boy. I was sick for most of the time I was pregnant with him, almost 4 months. And after we lost him, I knew I would never, ever be the same person I was before. It’s like there was a line drawn, a defining moment in my life. The time before him and the time after him and there is no going back. EVER.
Sometimes, I don’t like the new me, well most of the time I don’t like the new me. I don’t want this to be me. I don’t want to be a mama who has lost her son. That is something I kept repeating to myself in the beginning, “I don’t want to be here.” Here as a sense of being in this moment, not a physical sense of the word. I don’t want to be living this life without my son. I want him here. I don’t want to move on without him.
I’ve had to come to terms that I cannot expect the same things of myself that I once did. I’m full of new anxieties, I cry almost everyday, I’m not as optimistic, I’m struggling with my relationship with God, I’m not as giving of myself to people, I’m not as joyful. But you know what, THIS IS ALL OKAY. How can I expect myself to go back to being the person I once was? I lost my son, I’ll never be whole again. He’s on my mind 24/7, even in my dreams. I’ve only dreamt of him once (I think it was him, anyway). But my subconscious is always aware that I’ve lost him. Just last night I had a dream that I almost lost my husband and I was wailing to my mom “I JUST LOST MY SON! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO IF I LOSE MY HUSBAND TOO?”
This concept of not being the same person is something that we have spoken about in the grief support group that I attend. And something that someone said hit me so hard. She said “You will never be the same person, but you learn to move forward as a new person, with your grief.” It’s like you carry it with you and you learn to live with it and you learn from it. It’s hard. It’s exhausting. But when you are grieving, you have no choice.
Grief is a monster. It sneaks up on you at the most unexpected times. Sometimes the waters are still and sometimes they are raging. But it has no timeline. The most important thing that I’ve learned through my grief is to be gentle with myself. I’m a new person and it is going to take a while to adjust to this new person, and that is okay.