First Published at Still Standing Magazine
How do you learn to get comfortable with your grief? It is so all-consuming that you soon learn to hate it, wishing it would just go away. But what if fighting against it only makes it worse? Accepting that grief is a part of your new life may be the key.
When I held my stillborn son in my arms for the first time I truly believed there would never be any joy for me again in this world. The deepest depths of grief enveloped my soul. The darkness extinguished any light of hope for the future. Grief overwhelmed my sense of self and destroyed any semblance of the person I was before. I cried and I cried each day, a sense of hopelessness prevailing above all else.
That was what life was like for a long time after he died. I resented the fact that, not only did I lose my first and only child, I seemed to also be losing everything else in my life – happiness, joy, laughter, intimacy, a sense of direction, a connection with others. Grief was slowly stripping away every part of me and I hated it for doing that. I hated my grief.
So day after day I fought against it. I believed that I could only learn to be happy again if I defeated my grief. This belief was reinforced by those around me who expected it to happen sooner rather than later. However, as the months passed I was still a basket case of emotion. No matter how much I fought against it, it would not budge. The longer this continued, the more uncomfortable my grief made others around me feel.
So then, I tried to pretend that it was not there. However, it was too strong to ignore. I was so exhausted. How much longer was this going to last?
Then one day, many months into my journey, I just gave in. I let down my defenses and gave the grief permission to take over my body. I sobbed out loud and alone in my house. It felt like things were never going to get better.
Feeling like I had no other choice, I started to give in to the grief more and more. It was then that I slowly started to realize that it was not something to be fought against. Rather, it was something that I must carry with me. It was a part of me, a part of my journey, a part of my new life. I didn’t need to be fixed because I wasn’t broken. The outpouring of emotion was a sign of love for my son.
Society has made us believe that there is something wrong with grief. It is treated like a dirty little secret when really it is just the product of love. As soon as I started to get comfortable with my grief I started to feel a sense of peace, something that had eluded me for so long. I faced it head-on and it became less scary.
All of those people who were trying to “fix” me didn’t realize that there was nothing to fix because there is nothing wrong with me. I miss my son. I am working through all of the complex emotions that come with that. Don’t judge me, don’t try to fix me, just support me. I can’t act a different way just to make you feel better. I have gotten comfortable with my grief, now it’s your turn.
Photo by: Mervyn Travers