There Is Joy After Loss…Yes, Even For You
There is joy after loss. Yes… even for you.
Psst. You, with the swollen eyes and the broken heart.
Can we have an honest heart-to-heart?
I understand what you are going through. I do. I promise. You lost your child. You are in a living hell. You can barely remember how to breathe without pain, let alone envision yourself actually enjoying life again but you know what? You will. I promise you will. No, not tomorrow. Or the day after. Or even the day, week, month, possibly year after that. Grief is hard. Child loss is unimaginably hard. Watching everyone around you live seemingly perfect, uncomplicated, child-filled lives is hard, hard, hard.
I get it. I’ve been there.
Six years ago I lost my daughter. I didn’t care about anything for a long time after that. A LONG TIME. I didn’t even brush my hair or get out of my pajamas for probably that first year. Seriously, who does that?
Someone who couldn’t care about ridiculous things like how her hair looks when her child is dead does.
I spent hours every. single. day. crying at her grave. Clawing at the ground. Screaming at God and the universe and cancer and any and every one that would listen about how unfair it was and how much my heart was broken and how there was no point, just no. point. at. all to envisioning a future let alone believing in one. I wanted my pain to end. I wanted to be with my daughter. I hurt all the time.
I was never going to be happy again. Ever.
I just knew it.
Only you know what? I was wrong. So very, very wrong.
You know who I am today?
I am a person who LAUGHS. I have a wicked sense of humor that felt for a time like it had died with my daughter, and yet now I cry far more tears of laughter than of sorrow. I act silly and find the humor in every day situations.
I am a person who looks back on the BEAUTY of loving my little girl. I think about that perfect little being that was my baby girl with fondness and love and yes longing too, because it will always hurt that she’s not here. We will always have that brokenness to some degree, but I can also look at her and smile. SMILE! And feel gratitude that I was the lucky one who got to be her momma.
I am a person with PASSION. When my daughter died, I worked in sales. I used to say, “Someday I will write a book, when I have time,” and losing her taught me that we are never guaranteed time. If there is something you want to do, go out and do it. George Eliot said, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”
So I do. I write. Every single day I write. And I love it and FEEL FULFILLED in a way that I never could have dreamed before. This lesson from my daughter was a gift.
My life MOVES FORWARD with those around me now; that too felt impossible for such a long time until one day, without much fanfare, my world began to spin in the direction of wonderful, lovely things. I know this, among all others, sometimes feels the most impossible when we are grieving hard, but nothing is impossible. I was told after losing Peyton that I would never– that I COULD never–have another child.
I have two rainbows at home with me now. I know there are so many in this community who for a variety of reasons cannot go on to have more children and I in no way am trying to minimize that. I am more sharing that there are things that felt impossible at the time, but were not.
Blessings that you can’t even dream of now are still in store for you, whether they be more children, or a different kind of blessing altogether. Your life can be beautiful again. It will be beautiful again in time.
Listen, I won’t insult you by saying that your grief is a choice. NOTHING about grief is a choice. Not how we grieve. Not how long we grieve. Sadly, grief exists whether we want it to or not.
I am just here to share with you what comes after the pain and the sorrow and the heaviest days of grief subside.
Not forced happiness.
True, pure moments of happiness.
You might be shaking your head. I would have shaken my head at this article back in the early days of grief. You might want me to shut up right now because you are hurting and you don’t believe it will ever stop and you wonder how can I possibly know so much about some imaginary joy that the universe still has in store for you when I don’t even know you. When I don’t even know your circumstances or pain?
And that’s fine.
Be angry. Anger is part of grieving. But when you feel that anger start to subside sometime down the line, whether next week or next year, don’t beat yourself up for it. Don’t think it is somehow moving you further away from your beloved child. EMBRACE IT! Embrace that that part of your journey–that raw, constant, in-your-face pain is subsiding and take a deep breath. Pat yourself on the back for being the warrior you are for having just survived the hardest battle any parent could ever endure, and soldier on.
Because one day you will crack a smile, and then another. You will find yourself laughing and it will feel totally foreign and scary and WONDERFUL and you won’t know what to do with it. When that moment comes embrace it! It is another achievement badge for your coat of armor.
You will get there. To here. To this (primarily) happy and joy filled place. Of course you will always have moments and tears that really hurt, because life without your child hurts, but there will come a time when you laugh much more than you cry.
There will come a time when you enjoy life, when you feel excited by it and the promises of your future.
In time (no matter how long it takes), I promise, it will come.
From one momma who once felt as broken as you do now, let this post be that glimpse at the impossible, a glance at the future you cannot yet imagine for yourself but that I know is waiting for you.
And when your time for happy comes, you will look back to another parent newly inducted into this world with an outstretched hand and you will tell them what I am now saying to you because you will know, in your heart, it is true.
“There is joy after loss. Yes… even for you.”