In the face of acute loss, the sadness can be overwhelming. It can cloud so much of life that not only can you not see any light, but you wonder if perhaps there is no light to be seen. You may also be faced with a conundrum. The idea of staying in such a state of sadness forever is overwhelming, to say the least. But the idea of the sadness ever lifting, is also overwhelming. For our sadness often becomes our connection to the one we lost. And if we no longer feel the weight of the sadness of our loss than how will we stay connected to them? At least, this is how I felt for the first two years after the loss of my daughters. Sadness clouded everything. And in some strange ways I wanted it to and didn’t want it too at the same time.
Related: Living a Double Life: When Joy is Forever Coupled with Sadness
I remember asking friends, counselors, others who had walked through similar losses “Will I be this sad forever?”. There response of “No, no you will not” brought comfort on some days and others greater sadness. Oh, the paradox.
What I was really asking was “How will I stay connected to my babies when the sadness starts to lift?”. I wanted to hold onto my pain and my grief. I didn’t want others to see me too happy or too joyful. Because then perhaps they would think (as if it mattered what they thought) that I wasn’t missing them deeply in those moments, that I loved them less because I was no longer shedding oceans of tears for them. Every. Single. Day.
But sadness forever is not where I really wanted to live. And as time went on, much to my surprise, the sadness did begin to lift.
At first, I felt guilty and wanted to try to reach for that connection with my daughters. But as the sadness began to lift and not cloud everything I also began to discover a new way of connecting to them. I noticed this the first time I was able to talk to a stranger who asked me how many children I had. She didn’t know what she had just unearthed. It was a question I traditionally avoided at all costs early on in my grief. But now gave way to an opportunity to share about my girls with a smile on my face. I began to notice that I could look at their photos, thinking about my time with them and instead of sadness being my only response; smiles began to more consistently erupt on my face.
Related: Being Happy and Sad
It is now nearly 5 and 4 years respectively since I lost my daughters (they were born 14 months apart from one another). I miss them deeply, my heart aches and tears still fall for them. But sadness no longer clouds everything I do or see or say. Sadness has become more like the fog in the morning that comes and goes, sometimes heavy, sometimes light but rarely stays for long.
I’m not sure I would have believed you three years ago if you had told me that joy and life would return. I’m not sure I would have believed you if you had told me there would be a day when sadness would be just a part but not the whole of me. But that day did come.
And if you are sitting in a dark cloud of sadness that seems never-ending, I want you to know that you are not alone in that cloud. Others have sat and are sitting there with you. And there are also many of us, who now sit in a space where the overwhelming sadness no longer clouds everything. And I believe that one day, though the fog may still remain, you will be able to see beyond the sadness too.
Photo by Alex Boyd on Unsplash
Lindsey Dennis is the proud mother to 4 precious children, 2 who passed away shortly after birth and two in her arms today. She is married to the man of her dreams, Kevin and loves to spend her time offering the hope that is being written on her heart in the midst of her grief to others. She is the author of Buried Dreams: From Devastating Loss to Unimaginable Hope that tells the story of the loss of her first two daughters and the hope that she discovered in the midst of deep grief.