Still Standing

The Unexpected Waves of Grief

Peace and acceptance have come now, seven years after my son’s stillbirth. Most of the time. But every once in a while, the grief hits me with an unexpected sharpness, seemingly out of nowhere. It’s a momentary awareness of what I have lost that strikes deep. It takes me by surprise now, unlike those first days when it was the moments of peace that astonished me.

It happened this year, on his birthday. I have weathered the last few with stoicism, and this year, I broke. I thought I had mastered my grief. But then the world felt weary, without my son in it. The waves were seemingly relentless, crashing into me, enveloping me with the flood before I had a chance to catch my breath from the last swell. Beating me down with the work of mourning, the toil of sorrow.

And then, the tide receded. Not due to any action on my part – simply because that is what tides do. They surge and then they withdraw. I drifted for a bit, exhausted and spent. I was reminded of the weakness that grief brings, as the world insists that you are so strong. I was weak, but I did not drown. I floated on the ebb of emotion, waiting to return to myself. I was drenched and soaking by this baptismal tsunami, and it left me in temporary ruin.

It was a necessary destruction. It cleared out the cobwebs of heartache that had been building, and in my collapse, I was clarified. It will happen again someday, probably when I least expect it, and it will again relieve the pressure of this mess of built-up hurt, once more refining me into more than I was. The grief does not end, but it changes. Washed over by waves of grief, the wounds will still hurt, but they won’t be as raw and fresh as they were in the throes of new anguish. Healed, yet scarred, made more perfect by my damage.

I will break again because there is no fairness in a baby dying, no justice in this loss. But I do not remain shattered. The waves clear the way for restoration. I rebuild. Again and again, I rebuild.

 

Photo by Colin Rex/Unsplash




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