What Nobody Told Me About Grief
Nobody told me how it would feel. How it would hurt. How it would change me on a cellular level. They told me about what would happen to my body and to his. They told me my options for burial or cremation. They told me things like “At least you are young, you can try again” and “You will see him again some day” and “Everything happens for a reason”. On the same day that we had to say goodbye forever to our precious son, we were sent back out into the real world. Nobody told me that life would never be the same. That my heart would be cracked open wide and that this experience could destroy me as a person. That my heart could harden so much it could freeze over. Nobody told me that my son’s death would weave itself into every part of my life. Conversations with strangers, public holidays, work and family events, looking into the bathroom mirror at my reflection multiple times a day and remembering standing there in that very same spot feeling him move for the last time. No one ever told me that I would feel so numb that tears would be an impossibility. No one ever told me that I would let my life become meaningless, so much so that I would stop living and start existing. Nobody told me that people would judge me. No one ever told me that it would be difficult for others to speak his name. That my son’s life and death would be reduced to an awkward topic of conversation.
When your child dies, time stands still. The world stops turning for you. You are caught trying desperately to escape the present to somehow find your way back to the past where things were the way they were always meant to be. At that point there is no future for you. Everything feels as though it has died. It is only around a couple of weeks later when you notice that the outside world begins to move again. It is as if nothing ever happened. But your world remains still and it begins to to hold you there as if you have been tied against your will to a chair.
You know what else no one ever told me about grief? Nobody ever told me about the incredible people I would cross paths with. The relationships that I would form with them. No one ever told me that I had power in this grief. That I could stand up and break free and create a beautiful legacy of love, kindness and meaning for my baby son. No one ever told me that I could feel joy again, real, deep, true joy. No one told me that my eyes would be open to all the wonders of this Earth and sky and how it would shatter my spiritual beliefs and create new ones. No one ever told me that I could still be a mother to my baby boy. No one ever told me that I could help others by sharing my story.
Grief is dangerous and magnificent and frightening and life changing and here is something that I want you to know about it. You have power here. Even if you cannot feel it. No matter how big your hurt is, your heart is still beating. You have a purpose. You can take responsibility for your grief, and that way you will get to own it. You are the author in your story, no one else. Of course this doesn’t mean that grief will behave in the way you want or expect it to, but the power comes in how you choose to live through this experience. Take it one breath, one moment, one day at a time.
It really doesn’t matter that no one told me these things about grief – for I have had to learn these lessons on my own and each one of these realizations have brought me to where I am in my life right now. All the good, the bad, the beautiful, I take it all. This is my life story and I only hope I can live it to the fullest to honor him.