Watching a friend experience the loss of their baby and the grief that remains can feel so helpless. Unfortunately, there isn’t a “one-size fits all” approach to support a grieving friend through loss, but there are many ways to be supportive. When my daughter died at 33-days-old, it was the first loss of this type…
I have a secret that I am not proud of.
Out in public, I smile, I joke, I laugh, and I am especially patient with my children. I am the person that you may see and admire from a distance. The one who appears to have it all together. I am that mom that empty nesters compliment in the grocery store because I haven’t gone ‘psycho’ on the kids who are loudly trying, for the 1999th time, to convince me that buying candy coated cereal is good for them.
But in private, things are different ~ I am sometimes a Monster Mommy.
I get frustrated easily. I am quick to condemn and slow to listen. I have a short temper and quite honestly, I am a person that I never thought I would be. One moment, I am speaking in a normal voice and then next moment I am in full-on yelling mode.
There is a lot of shame and guilt involved. I find myself getting mad over spilled milk (literally), a messy bathroom, or a disrespectful tone from one of my children. I can feel the irritation bubble when I watch all the kids walk by the same sock on the floor after I have asked someone (everyone) to pick it up. I loose control when my kids fight. I brood, I sulk, I snap, and I strike out at my husband when he finishes work. Instead of a warm welcome, he gets whatever I have left in my arsenal after a long day.
And the worst part is that after Amelia’s death ~ I really thought that I would have a better perspective on life, on parenting, and on a healthy pregnancy. How wrong I was.
This is my second pregnancy after her death and it is no easier, no smoother, not filled with sighs of relief, or more moments of being able to enjoy this new life growing inside me. I am still plagued with worry and anxiety that this little baby will have some kind of problem.
Here is the real deal. Life is difficult and messy. And just because I have lived through the tragedy that happened with Amelia, doesn’t mean that this ‘new normal’ or my rainbow pregnancy is a cake walk. So many people seem to think that after you have walked through fire, that you are stronger for it. And for some people, I am sure this is the case. But not me and I keep wondering if I am not alone in feeling this. Instead, I feel like I am a walking statue of ash, complete with fractures and ready to blow apart with the slightest wind.
In fact, for me pregnancy and parenting after loss is more difficult. My emotion can be so close to the surface that whoever gets in the way (even my children) can become collateral damage. Because of my grief and loss, I am more aware of the dark side of this world and how fragile life really is. It scares me silly! This pregnancy (thank you, hormones) amplify stress for me, making me often feel out of control. A bit like Dr. Jekell and Mrs. Hyde ~ a monster mommy.
The thing that helps me are these two simple words ~ “I’m sorry” and the ability to mean them. I am not perfect, nor do I have illusions that I should be. What I am, is a normal, imperfect, grieving parent who is trying to find her way though the challenges of life, marriage, pregnancy after loss, and parenting.
Being able to apologize to those I hurt when I go into “Monster Mommy” mode is a start. Being able to forgive myself ~ for the work in progress that I am ~ is essential. Reaching out to those I can talk to is as important as finding ways to take care of myself.
No one flourishes from feeling isolated and alone. We are all easily influenced by the way we ‘think’ we should be. But lets be honest ~ secreting away your inner ‘Monster’ is just no good. The moment we face the ‘Monster’ inside and share her with the world, is the moment you can start to heal and help others.
So, consider outing your imperfections and character flaws. Share what you are least proud of after your loss. You may be surprised to find that you are not alone and you may just help another grieving mommy begin to feel less like a monster and more normal again.