Writing My Way Through Grief
I’ve been a writer my whole life.
As a child I made up stories in my head and then wrote them down in self-made books created by stapling papers together. If I ever needed to talk to my dad about something, I often wrote him long letters instead of talking to him. I was a writer before I even knew what a writer was. As I grew older and life became more complicated, I began writing in a diary. If I was upset, I wrote. If I was happy, I wrote. By the time I was in college, writing was second nature to me. Words, you see, were the only way I could make sense of the world. But upon graduation, real life set in. I graduated in the middle of the recession and had to find myself a practical job that would help pay the bills. For the first time in my life I stopped writing.
When I got pregnant with my first child Zorah, I often had the urge to sit and write about all that was happening with my life. I wanted to write about my daughter and how much she made my world complete. But I was often sleep deprived and incredibly overwhelmed with all the changes in my life, so writing was put on the back burner. I needed to be a mom, no time to be a narrator for my own life.
I loved parenthood so much that I quickly became pregnant with my second daughter. Life couldn’t have been be more exciting, more thrilling. There was no need to work anything out through writing; my life was great!
But then in the hours after finding out my second daughter had passed away, one of the first things I reached for was a pen and an empty journal.
I didn’t know what else to do, so I wrote.
I wrote about what happened. I wrote about the daughter I will never know. I wrote down my daughter’s name knowing that it would never be said out loud by anyone. I was trying to find a way for my life to make sense again.
I wrote and I wrote.
I didn’t know who I was anymore. I was someone who had lost a baby, and I honestly didn’t know how life was supposed to go on. I was broken into so many little pieces, I didn’t know how I would ever recover.
When we are broken we must return to space where we can find ourselves again. For me that space was in the safety that writing brought me.
I honestly don’t know how else I would have coped with Aurora’s death if I didn’t return to that space. One of the things that I know many loss moms experience is PTSD, triggered by recollecting the horrible circumstances surrounding their child’s death. For me, one way of working out from that was writing what had happened to me. I wrote about how scared I was, how angry I was at my body for failing to protect her, how guilty I felt by not being able to mother my living child. By writing about my experience, no matter how terrible it was, I was able to free myself.
Soon my journal about my loss became less about what happened, and instead became letters to my daughter. I wrote to her about everything I had hoped for her, the life that I wished we could have had together. Dear Aurora, all the entries began. And so, the little girl who I thought had died, had found a new way to be with me every day.
We writers are a unique breed.
When we hurt we look for words to heal ourselves again. Mik Everett, another fellow writer, once wrote that “If a writer falls in love with you, you can never die.” One of my biggest fears after Aurora had died was that she would be forgotten, but with my writing, I know she will live forever.
I was a writer before I even knew what a writer was, but now I have my reason to write.