There are days when I want to compile a giant list of all the ways I’ve been wronged and carry it around with me. As soon as I hear someone laughing or celebrating, I want to stop, show them my list and say, “I’m so glad YOU are happy because MY BABIES DIED.”
This feeling, of course, was a million times worse when my grief was fresh and new. When I couldn’t even look at a baby or hear the word “twins” muttered without having an almost visceral reaction. If you’re reading this, I don’t have to tell you-anger and jealousy are a combination that no one is proud of, but it’s quite often a part of grieving.
Rationally, I knew that the pregnant lady I saw in Target could have had a long journey to motherhood-maybe she struggled with infertility or miscarriage. Everyone has a story, we all know that! But, irrationally, a pregnant belly always felt like a personal affront. A slap in the face.
I think it scares loss moms when I talk about how long ago my babies died. 9 years now. NINE. And I’m still not over it-nor will I ever be. However, with a lot of work I’ve been able to process and deal with other people’s happiness in the face of my pain. Here are the conclusions I’ve come to over the years:
- Your grief and your healing are about YOU (and extend this to your spouse/family members). No one else has your story. No one. Even someone at your exact same age, with your same circumstances, who lost their baby at the same gestation for the same reason–you get where I’m going here–they don’t have your story.
- When you see someone over the moon excited, there is a part of you, even if its way down deep inside, that KNOWS that their happiness is amazing. This is what we wish for, after all, that naive, pure joy that comes along with having a baby. And although we couldn’t have it, we just have to push to the fact that we are grateful that others do.
- Whether we like it or not, life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes it helps me to remember that my ups are other people’s downs, and vice verse. I know that perspective doesn’t always help, but it’s a start.
- It also helps for me to remember that even my pain feels insurmountable, I don’t WANT other people to feel this pain as well. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, let alone my friends. It also helped to find my people, the ones who were going through similar experiences and be able to commiserate without being judged.
- Lastly, it helps to remember that it is normal to get pangs of pain when someone else announces a pregnancy or finds out they’re having twins (for me, even just the word twins will always give me a pang), but let yourself FEEL that pang, and then move past it. Accept the pain and then move past because, in the end, you are the only one left living with the anger and hurt and resentment.
You are living-and surviving-your story. Comparison is the thief of joy, they say. Search for what will make you happy and get you through the pain.
You’ve got this, yo.
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.