Someone recently asked me, “After all this time, and all the writing and speaking you’ve done about the twins, does it still hurt just as badly to talk about it?”
I had to think long and hard before I answered. As with most things, there wasn’t really a yes or no answer for this. “Grief is complicated,” I replied. “It takes work.”
In April, Aiden and Sophie would be celebrating their 9th birthday if they had lived. 9 years. I can speak about them without breaking down into tears (usually). I can look at their photographs, their baptismal gowns, and their urns, without it sending me to my bed and pulling the covers over my head (almost always). I can answer my children’s sometimes excruciatingly painful questions about their brother and sister (Are they like imaginary friends, Mom?”) without firmly shutting down the topic to avoid a panic attack.
So, is it easier to talk about it? Sure. Does it hurt less? Absolutely not.
When I was first blogging in those horrible months right after my twins died, I would cry so hard that I couldn’t even see the computer screen through my tears. I wasn’t thinking about grammar or punctuation, or if I was writing something offensive. I was just getting it all out. Looking for connections.
Now, as my grief evolves, I write to help others make those connections. I am starting to do speaking events and workshops on grief, and there’s something that happens during these times that allows me to work without letting my emotions overcome me. I’m an educator and so I have a lot of practice with shutting everything out so I can teach, so that is part of it.
But, if I’m honest, the biggest reason why I can speak about it a little easier, 9 years later, is because I worked at it. Grief is hard work. I’ve never believed that “Time will heal all wounds.” I’ve never believed that you can just sit back and let anything happen and expect it will just work.
Related: Don’t Tell Me Times Heals All Wounds
I have made myself vulnerable over and over by talking about Aiden and Sophie. Teaching others what will help support me. Sharing their pictures. This is why it’s a little easier to talk about now, not because 9 years have passed, but because of practice.
As bereaved parents, nothing about our job is easy. If we work at it, though, there will be progress. Everyone needs something different–some combination of therapy, counseling, writing, reading, talking–but once you find it, there will come a day when you feel light again.
Healing is every day work.
Christy Wopat is a 4th grade teacher and writer. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and who hilarious, energetic children, and without her boy/girl twins, Sophie and Aiden, who lived for a very short time in 2009. She is honored to share her words in hopes of breaking the stigma surrounding infant loss and grief.