Almost three and a half years ago I was thrown into the world of the grieving parent. At the time, I was in a highly alert state, taking words that were said to me and dissecting them one by one. Sometimes people said things that I found confusing, and maybe even hurtful. I started reading…
How many times can your life turn upside down? At what point is it acceptable to shake your hands to the heavens and cry out, “NO MORE!?! I CAN’T TAKE ANYTHING ELSE BAD HAPPENING!”
Melodramatic, possibly. Accurate, entirely!
I’m at that point. I’m actually so far past that point that I find myself wondering how much longer I can hold the thoughts in without the fists waving to the heavens, the cry for a break, to finally slip from my heart to my lips in a guttural scream that would no doubt leave me either rocking on the floor bawling or locked up in a padded room .
I have found this to be true in the year and a half since total devastation happened when I lost twin boys. Sometimes I want to not be ok. Sometimes I want to not be so strong. Sometimes I want more than anything, for anyone, a stranger, a spouse, a friend, to look past my strength, my smile, my hard fought determination to be ok, to realize that I’m not ok. Maybe a lot of the times I’m ok, sometimes I’m better than ok, but sometimes I’m just not ok. The desire to have someone, anyone, wrap their arms around me and just let me, for one hot minute, be the sad, grieving, broken, empty woman I am is ever present. I don’t have my twins and I have lost so much more than my boys in the past year, sometimes I’m just not ok.
Yes, I’m still standing. Yes, I’m strong. Yes, I am better. Most days. Some days I don’t want to be. Some days the desire to stop what I’m doing at work, at the store, at the gas station, to just sit down, put my head on my knees and cry until I can’t cry anymore is so overwhelming that I can visualize it as well as if I were watching it unfold on screen.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m really proud of the place I’m at now. I went through hell, a pain deeper than anything I could have imagined, to understand the depth of the strength I have inside of me. That’s a profound moment when you realize that the thing that took your heart, your breath, and your hope didn’t kill you.
But, really, so what? It didn’t kill me. I still lost. I lost so much. I found a lot but only because I lost even more. How do those scales balance? If you lose everything you ever wanted through death–doubled–grief, relationships that ended because of that tragedy, and pain but you are still able to keep going, does that make it ok?
I find myself so confused. I am in a better place emotionally than I’ve been, maybe, ever. But I sweat the small things, I panic over the hypotheticals that stream through my mind, I have nightmares and grief attacks that leave me paralyzed. But if I’m being completely candid and transparent, I’ve always been half past crazy; losing my babies just revealed a deeper level of hurt. The neurotic thoughts that plague this 30-something-year-old career minded, successful daughter, friend, people pleasing woman will never go away. I’m ok with that.
What I’m not ok with is this: life is such a weird pendulum that swings between what’s accepted and what’s not. What is comfortable and what’s not. What’s forgiven and what’s not. I don’t know if I am healthier, happier and more content and peaceful in the recent months because I’ve fought harder than ever in my life to prove to myself that I will not stay trapped in pain, or if it’s to prove to the hateful people that really hope to see me fail; to show them that the unfair expectations they put on me to get over it sooner, their belief that I’m nothing more than a weak person because I still hurt, or that I have gotten really good at smiling through tears makes me nothing more than a fake.
This is the question I want to scream out…
Why does it matter to you?
Or how about this? WHO do you think YOU are to tell ME how I should have handled MY pain? Why does my grief make you so uncomfortable? Is it because seeing how deeply I love and hurt makes you realize how much you haven’t handled your pain and fears?
What makes your belief that I should have moved on faster more relevant than my belief that I did the best I could? When I am at a place where I can love, live, hope, dream, and laugh and you are stuck in an angry, resentful hell that is crushing your spirit more everyday?
Who are you to tell me how I should have grieved?
Who are you to judge how I handled the worst thing that happened?
The judgment that parents face, everyday, on how they choose to handle the loss that happened to them is incredible. And by incredible I mean ridiculous.
Newsflash: Grief is personal. Mothers grieve differently than fathers. Wives different from husbands. Kids different from their siblings. It’s not a competition!
There’s nothing but losers when it comes to grief. The only winners are those who choose to concentrate on what they can do, for themselves, to move forward and have a willing heart to help those hurting along the way when they can finally offer the pieces of their heart they have fought to mend back together.
If you can’t love someone, at least don’t hurt them. If you can’t understand their pain, for the love of God, stop judging. If you have nothing nice to say, chances are you don’t have many friends, so maybe just quietly write down your thoughts and leave them to yourself.
The last thing any grieving parent needs is your advice on how they should have handled things differently. Or how you would have handled the loss of a baby that is only a stupid hypothetical to you when to me? It’s my reality.
And I did the best I could.
Trust that and please, excuse yourself before I punch you. I’m stronger, yes, I’m healthier, yes, but a gal’s got her limits and your lip service on everything I’ve done wrong is wasted on this mom, who is proud; who is mostly ok and who is stronger than you’ll ever dream of being.
I lost my heart and I’m still breathing! Something beautiful is on my horizon and forgive me if I leave your rantings on my shortcomings as a grieving mom to go find them…