When we were pregnant with our 3rd daughter, we easily decided on naming her Grace once we knew she was a girl. It was when I was halfway complete with her pregnancy that we found out our Grace passed away in utero. It felt, and still feels like our "grace" was stolen, like an Indian gift taken away suddenly that left our family shattered, unable to glue or tape the pieces back whole.
I thought the topic of death of our unborn child was too personal to blog about, however I realize now it's imperative that I write about it. At first, I was worried I would wouldn't be able to honor her death because the experience was too painful for appropriate words. I was also worried about making people sad, as I desire to be an uplifter. Now I feel that by not writing about it, I alienated myself from the emotions and the experiences that others are also feeling or have felt. I see that being able to write about it, is part of no longer hiding under a rock of grief, as though I am alone in it.
And so for all those people who have lost someone, I write this for you. I write because when I do, I no longer feel alienated by my pain. It is my intent that you no longer have to think you are in pain without others wanting to hold you up. These intense, gripping emotions associated with loss are part of life, they are part of the human experience, that I believe we all came here for. We owe it to ourselves to honor that by communicating about it, because talking about it is what connects us. Connection is what takes the oxygen away from the burning fire.
Here's a brief description of my loss and the months that followed.
Physical AspectI expected, after my daughter passed away, that grieving would be something I could complete within a couple of months. I expected that the pain would be gone over a short period of time. Instead, I have noticed on a physical level that instead of the gut-wrenching immediate pain that feels like a stab to the gut, over time that pain transforms. The initial shock transmutes into an empty feeling in the body, a feeling of having nothing after it was something. After that, over time the grief moved up my body into my chest/heart space. Instead of a stabbing, pain in my gut, now it feels more like a tight, compressed sensation burning in my chest. Oh the loss.
During the last 3 months, my whole world flipped upside down. I worried people would ask me about the pregnancy and I would just break down crying. I quit coaching Crossfit and I avoided casual people who had known I was pregnant by moving to a new city. Thus, I disconnected from others as much as I could. This gave me space to be invisible with new neighbors, grocery stores, and schools and wa-la, a new life.
The room that was going to be my daughter's baby room with a crib and sweet smelling blankets and soft things instead became a guest room in our new home. Before we knew we lost her, we shopped for a bigger house to accommodate our new family member; we were well prepared. Now, I imagine what her room would have looked like, how the furniture would be arranged perfectly for our perfect baby. And then my heart goes dark and it hurts to breath and feel. It hurts physically but that can be escaped from, that pain is nothing compared to the emotional side.
The EmotionsEmotionally, I feel terrible and never-ending sadness. Even though I never got to meet my 3rd born, I was passionately attached to her and the outcome of her arrival. I was attached to the idea of holding her in her first moments of life and of bringing her home from the hospital. I was attached to the idea of being a family of five and teaching her the loving touch of my hands. I was deeply attached to the soft, gentle experiences of motherhood that were abruptly taken. I realize it would have been worse to have met her, have her born and then loose her. But I wish I could have known her none the less.
Her loss has brought sadness that with reflection turns into anger, feeling like I got ripped off. It feels like I was taken for a ride by the Universe that promised joy and delivered trauma. I have since questioned my spirituality and questioned everything. When my family leaves the house, I debate letting them drive away, in fear that I won't see them come home again. It has made me see nothing in life (anything/anyone) as permanent. These thoughts and emotions are the parts that I don't know how to handle.
The SurrenderOn the learning side of things, I have found out that emotions only last 90 seconds if they are not fed with more painful thoughts. So rather than adding fuel to the fire, if we just feel the emotion as it comes in and we don't allow ourselves to numb the pain, we can release it. Numbing can be anything individual to you. Numbing can be watching TV, scrolling on your phone, working, watching sports, drinking alcohol, doing drugs, smoking cigarettes, overeating. Numbing is anything that pulls you away from feeling and literally takes your consciousness away from your body. So I encourage you to feel your pain, sit down with it. Know that when it comes, it will hurt but it won't last and it just needs you to breathe it.
On the opposite end of our ability to sit with our emotions, we have holding onto them. If we don't feel our emotions, our body will begin to crystalize them within our cells. That means you aren't feeling them consciously but you are definitely still living with them in your physical body. This is where we make ourselves physically sick over our emotions. Everyone knows that stress can give you a cold, and they physical/emotional experience is way more vast than that. Lots of prior posts on this topic, but let's just go out on a ledge to put this into perspective - Long term resentments can cause cancer.
The GraceFor help with grieving, I offer you something that I found to be very helpful. It's online therapy without the therapist that you can do at your own pace. They send you some topics to write about and some information to sit with. Highly recommended. This has begun my healing process.
DailyOM Course, Becoming Whole Again
Some words from the course "This course was designed to facilitate your personal recovery at your pace. Your healing journey is sacred to you. Your story is unique. You, and only you, know how you feel and more importantly, how you want to feel. These lessons are an aid to your transformation. Trauma may have infiltrated every part of your life but you can change what it has done to you. That time was not lost or wasted. It can be processed with a new perspective."
Inspirational Words for your Healing Journey:
Running from pain doesn't heal us
Chasing pain doesn't heal us, either
How do we heal?
We swim in it when it's waves crash over us;
We listen to it,
Learn from it,
Weep through it,
flow freely with it
And when it subsides-
as it WILL,
if we give it room to breathe-
We claim our birthright:
Stand in your feelings-
Dance them in,
then dance them out,
and then walk tall.
-My most sincere love and best wishes on your journey, thank you for reading!