Destinations of Grief
The first destination on my grief journey was Shock. Absolute, mind-numbing shock that my baby had died inside of me. How could it be so? How was it possible that a perfectly healthy baby had died at 38 weeks and 6 days gestation? Everything turned from eager anticipation and hope to pure shock. I’m grateful for Shock, a place that protected me from an immediate onslaught of overwhelming emotions. It was a place I would revisit many times as the emotions became overwhelming.
The next destination was Love. As I birthed Ariella and met her for the first time, I felt a rush of love I had never felt before. It was strange but in a way it didn’t matter to me that she was dead. She was my daughter, my firstborn, and I loved her. I spent two days with my daughter, taking in her every feature and discovering that Love was a place with no end. I wish I could have stayed there forever, but I knew I would also carry a piece of Love in my heart always.
I soon discovered that Love was right next door to Devastation. Devastation is a dark place, where tears and wailing intertwine and Hope is nowhere to be seen. It’s not a place I liked and yet it was the place I felt closest to Ariella. Somehow, among the tears and screaming, she was there. Devastation is a hard place to escape; I didn’t know how to move on in my journey and I didn’t even know if I wanted to do so. What could lie beyond Devastation? I’d heard people talking of Normality, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to go there. Normality without my daughter? No thanks.
And yet, Normality was the very place I found myself in. I traveled there without realising, as I wandered aimlessly trying to find for myself a new normal. In Normality I found ways to fill my daughter-less days, although I never felt settled. I knew my journey wasn’t finished but I didn’t know what the next destination was. All I knew was that the commute between Normality and Devastation took no time at all, and I visited both places frequently.
As the months passed, I found myself in a place foreign to me: Anger. I had caught glimpses of this place earlier, but never had I truly visited. Anger is a difficult place to be; it stripped away the masks I had put up and forced me to confront things I would have preferred to ignore. I didn’t expect Anger to be so large – I expected Anger to be a small town on the way to another destination but am discovering that it’s a thriving city and easily a destination in its own right. I don’t like being here. I know that if I’m not careful, the road out of Anger leads to Bitterness. I’ve heard that Bitterness is a prison, highly secure and hard to find freedom. I really don’t want to go there and so I fight to take the other road out of Anger, although I don’t know where that will take me.
They say, whoever “they” are, that another destination is Acceptance. I don’t think I’m there yet. I suppose I have moments when I travel through Acceptance on my way to Anger or Normality, but I struggle to stay there. It still seems surreal that Ariella is gone for the rest of my life. It would be nice to be able to be a long-term resident of Acceptance, but there is one destination that I want to live in:
Oh how I wish I could visit Peace! I’ve heard that it is beautiful, a place where Love and Acceptance meet with Normality. I imagine it to be a place where my travel companion will swap from Pain to Remembrance, although I know that Pain will visit again. I imagine that dwelling in Peace will be where I can experience Joy and Hope again, and that is what I long for.
Where have you been on your grief journey?