The further I travel along my loss journey, the stronger I’ve become. Though it’s been a hard road for the past two years, and I miss my baby girl terribly, I’ve somehow managed to empower myself along the way. It started with self-care, moving toward finding my own voice, and cutting out negativity whenever possible. Being empowered after loss means using your voice honestly, boldly, and without apology, owing no explanations and letting go of some of the obligations and negativity that existed in life before loss.
It’s Okay to Walk Away
I’ve always been the type of individual to put everyone else’s feelings ahead of my own. In the past, it’s led me to being emotionally trampled upon and altogether unhappy. Being an empath, I have a tough time letting go of those sorts of behaviors, at the risk of my own self-worth and well-being. As a loss mama, I’ve learned to shed that bad habit little by little. I’ve learned to advocate for myself.
One glaring truth I’ve come to accept is that it’s okay to walk away. It’s okay to walk away from the baggage you’ve always carried, away from the people who’ve weighed you down or made your life difficult. If you’ve experienced the loss of a child, you’ve already been handed an impossibly heavy burden to shoulder: Grief. It will last a lifetime and you’ll always miss your child. You have the right to decide to eliminate anything from your life that doesn’t contribute to your peace of mind or advance your healing.
This was tough for me early on after losing my daughter, but I’ve gotten better at walking away from the things that no longer serve me. The way I see it, no one knows better than the loss parent just how fleeting and precious life is. Since I’m still here, living my life, I ought to do the best that I can to live it well. Walking away from drama and pessimism is a great place to start.
Say Good-bye to Toxic People
Personally, I have one family member that I am now happily estranged from. While that truth may bother some people and make me seem callous or mean, it has freed me from a great deal of guilt and discomfort. It’s been the right move for me. I’ve watched that individual systematically break down the people in their life over the years, selfishly blaming others for their own personal dissatisfaction with life. I have a hard time supporting that behavior and letting it into my life. I started therapy shortly after the loss of my daughter and discovered that even though I no longer spent much time around that person, they still had a profoundly negative impact on my behaviors and self-worth. It became clear that it was time to give back the toxic garbage they were giving me, releasing myself in the process. I gave myself permission to let it go and say good-bye to the negativity. I have yet to regret that decision.
Here’s the thing: we can’t control how someone handles themselves (family member or not), but we can control how we allow them to impact our lives. I’ve chosen to stop allowing toxic energy into my life, because life is simply too precious to continue spending it with those who choose not to understand us. In my situation, silence has been enough to make the break. The silence on the other end tells me that person probably understands just why they’ve been pushed away. Sometimes, estrangement can prove to be much more difficult, but it’s worth examining how much things can improve once those negative ties are broken.
As loss parents, haven’t we been through enough? Why should we continue to allow negative people interfere with our healing and happiness?
Do What’s Best For You
A Ralph Waldo Emerson quote I’ve always liked fits here: “Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right.”
No matter what we do in life after loss, it’s easy to pick up on the misconceptions and critical opinions of others. We’re vulnerable in loss and that makes us more prone to questioning ourselves. Am I sharing too much? Am I annoying others by talking about my baby? Should I stop posting things about loss on social media? It feels like everyone is judging our actions, no matter what. If talking about your loss and your baby feels right to you, keep doing it. If sharing their pictures or asking others to honor their memory heals your heart a little more, keep doing it. Those who’ve never suffered the kind of loss we have are never going to truly ‘get it’, but that doesn’t mean you should censor your feelings about the child you love so dearly. You have the courage within you to be honest about your truth. Remember, you don’t owe others an explanation; you don’t owe anyone anything. You do owe it to yourself, and the baby you lost, to live your best life. Do what’s best for you.
Jessica Orlaske is the mother of beautiful little Lucy Rose, whom she was only able to spend a precious day with after suffering a placental abruption. Though the loss of Lucy has transformed her life into one of heartache and challenges, Jessica continues to search for Lucy’s light in all things and find ways to honor her sweet daughter with love and kindness. She has found healing through writing and sharing her story with others.