Many times during the dark periods of my grieving I wished for it to stop. “I can’t take any more!”; “I hate my life,” and “I don’t want to be like that.”
In one specifically dark moment I remember telling my husband: “You have the luxury to decide whether you want to stay with me or not, I don’t have that option.”
There were so many times I wanted the whole thing to just be a story or a film that would end, preferably with a happy ending. And neither did I want to become friends with my New Normal self, nor with my New Normal life. Why was it called ‘normal’ at all?
In a conversation I had with my mother after her first suicide attempt I urged her to think about and consider what it would mean to me, being pregnant with HER twin granddaughters and having to deal with the grief of losing MY mother. She said: “I know it would be hard, but with time, you’ll see, it will get easier.”
I shook my head in disbelief.
This conversation occurred eight months before she died and four months before Amya died.
This January, it will be three years since my mother left and I finally know what she meant. I feel that it is due to my extensive personal grief work and my process of writing my book Grieving Parents: Surviving Loss as a Couple that I have come to find myself in a good place with what concerns grief.
“With time, you’ll see, it will get easier…” applies to grief. It does however not apply to loss. Since my latest article ‘Being a Better Parent After Loss?’ and some interesting experiences I have had with certain people’s apparent discomfort with my outspokenness about ‘grief matters’, I realised that there is a huge lack of understanding of the difference between grief and loss.
Loss is a permanent, non-changing reality for a parent who has lost their child.
Grief is a process that is different for any parent and changing and evolving over time.
Loss will never ‘stop’.
Loss can not be ‘let go of’ or ‘moved on’ from.
The fact that I have a daughter who died is part of my history.
And even though it’s in the past, it’s also here with me.
It is not something I will or can forget about.
Grief, on the other hand, is a process.
It changed me and my outlook on life.
Grief will ebb and flow, it comes and goes.
With time, it comes less frequently and is less intense.
I won’t get lost in grief.
I resolve to let go and process grief, every day.
But I will grieve the loss,
when needed and as long as needed.
And I resolve to remember Amya.
One thing I cannot lose is her memory.
“With time, you’ll see, it will get easier…”
The grief gets easier.
The loss just IS.
Nathalie Himmelrich the author of a number of resource books for bereaved parents. As a relationship coach, grief recovery expert and bereaved mother herself she believes that relationships (intimate and to other support people) are the foundation for a healthy grieving experience. She is also the founder of the Grieving Parents Support (GPS) Network and the May We All Heal peer support group.