The moment you leave the hospital (or your home) after losing your baby, the world looks different. It’s not that the world has actually changed, though – it’s how you see it. You’re now looking at the world through grief eyes, and nothing looks the same.
Going through a trauma like losing your baby is life-changing, and it causes a deep grief that will remain with you for the rest of your days. That deep grief changes the way you see the world.
The other day, I was watching the Harry Potter movies when I spotted something that I now look at in a whole new light, compared to before grief. You know that scene where Harry can suddenly see the beasts that pull the carriages to the castle? They’re called Thestrals, and only those who’ve seen death happen can see them. Grievers see these creatures, while “normal” people can’t. Harry has grief eyes.
In the earliest days of grief after delivering my Jonah still, I remember looking out the window at the world and thinking that it looked greyer, dirtier, sadder. Of course, it doesn’t help that it had actually rained (in January in Minnesota) over the snow, which makes snow look mangy and gross. Beyond that, I just remember thinking that it was dull, and I wasn’t sure I’d ever see it in full color again.
The first couple of times I dared to venture out into the world, I remember seeing other people and wondering more than ever before about their personal lives. It was like I was looking at them, but through them at the same time. Has that woman experienced such a great trauma? How about that mom, has she had miscarriages? I also looked at happy people with contempt and jealousy. How could they all be happy when my world was so sad? My grief eyes saw all people differently.
Slowly, my grief eyes changed as I entered a new phase of grieving. In the new phase, the world suddenly looked so bright and beautiful and new as bits of comfort and joy started to make their way back into my life. There’s this point in grief where you’re suddenly rediscovering the beauty in the world, and you look at everything with child-like eyes, filled with wonderment. I remember going outside and really truly feeling how great the sun felt on my skin, smelling spring blooms and fresh-cut grass and just soaking it all in like it was brand new.
Grieving mothers see the world differently from the rest of society. They can just see more of it. They see both more pain and more beauty, sometimes at the same time. They see hope and fear and love and grief all rolled up into the world around them, and it’s amazing but it’s hard. Really hard.