So This is Life After Loss
Five years. That’s the anniversary that’s facing our family in August.
My son, Barrett, would be turning five years old.
But instead, it will have been five years since he died; five years since he was born into this world so quiet and still. So this is life after loss.
When he died, I had moments where I didn’t feel like life could go on; I couldn’t understand how a parent was supposed to go on living after burying their child. How does that even work? It’s unnatural. There’s no guidebook for that. There’s no book called “What To Expect When You’re No Longer Expecting.”
But here I am almost five years later and life has gone on. And I’ve found the beauty in life again; I’ve found the beauty in his life.
I’ve found the beauty in being able to be there for others going through the same thing.
But I don’t say that to say that it’s easy. There are still moments where a word or a sound will take me back to one of those moments; the agonizing minutes in the ultrasound room where I heard the words that no parent should have to hear; the moments when I had to pack a suitcase to go back to the hospital; the hours of labor before he was born and the silence when he was finally born; the day that we had to bury him. Sometimes I’m taken back there without warning, but as the years have gone on, it happens less and less.
I spent years thinking that something was wrong with me anytime I felt happiness.
But finally, a couple of years ago, I finally gave myself permission to just feel whatever I feel. Grief is funny that way. Sometimes it looks like an ugly cry in the shower when you long to hold them again; sometimes grief looks like a small, slaty tear trickling down your cheek when you least expect it; and, sometimes, grief is a smile when you say a silent “thank you” for all the beautiful people they’ve brought into your life even if you’d trade everything to have them back.
Yet, almost five years later I find myself living life and living it more fully than I ever have before — and more than I ever even thought was possible.
Sometimes that means a day where I laugh until I cry; sometimes that means a day spent crying with a friend who needs a shoulder; sometimes I’m the one crying on a shoulder; sometimes it’s finding the beauty in an ordinary day; sometimes it’s wanting to sink away for a day; sometimes it’s having to catch my breath when I look at my two girls and it hits me all over again their brother is missing.
So this is life after loss. It’s unexpected and unpredictable. It’s keeping his name and his memory alive. It’s giving myself permission to feel whatever I feel and then honoring those emotions. It’s everything I never imagined it could be.