More and more I realize sadness is never leaving. It remains in me; despite whatever else I feel, sorrow is always present.
When I lost my baby daughter who was born still at 35 weeks and was told her heart had stopped beating, the world was suddenly empty. Devoid of light, nothing to hear except the sound of my mind screaming into the darkness.
At that moment it was like my heart left my body. I could not contain that kind of pain. My heart was gone; she took it with her. And I was empty and alone, delivering my daughter’s body which she had already left. All I could think was I needed to see her. To see she was perfect, that she existed, that she was everything.
And she was.
That was two years ago. Sometimes I feel okay. Not happy; but the pain and dread, the longing and numbness, lift. And whatever is left is what I feel and I am not really sure what that is. I do not recognize my emotions and feelings as I used to. I don’t know if it is because I look different or they do. They feel different.
I can no longer completely feel one thing or another; happy, excited or angry because sorrow is ever present. The missing her never stops. But I also feel other things now, and value and am grateful to feel other things because I know what it is to feel only grief.
Despair. Loneliness. Longing. Missing. Blackness.
So I accept that sadness will never leave and embrace the feelings and emotions that lighten, brighten the spaces in my heart. It’s courageous to accept this new person. To accept these new feelings which I don’t always recognize and stop trying to look back, to who I used to be and how I used to feel.
I never knew this kind of loss. This pain. I have never been here before, and now that I am, I am not who I was before I lost her.
And that is part of living.
Part of loving.
Part of losing.
The change we experience when faced with sudden tragic loss hurts violently. It causes pain so deeply, it overwhelms every sense. Surviving in spite of the blackness which threatens to drown us becomes all we can do.
And we do it.
Even when the will to survive seems absent, in the face of immense loss. We survive. And gradually we accept how we have changed. Our dreams, hopes, wishes, all different. The answer to all our prayers, gone.
Everything within me shouts no, my soul calling for the universe to reverse course and give me back my daughter. Slowly over time, I come to understand I cannot change it. It has happened.
I lost her.
I cannot get her back.
My mind, my heart, my soul, my body, gradually accepts this. Slowly pieces of me accept this. And that is how time heals; and as it passes, I find I have new ways to understand what’s happened. New ways her loss is incorporated into our lives. This is acceptance.
And I find myself less often shocked with a heavy, dark pain when I think of how different my life was supposed to look. This is my reality now.
And I am looking forward, instead of back.
And Cordelia is beside me.
About the Author: Mary Lloyd is the mother of two children. Her daughter who was stillborn at 35 weeks, and her son, a beautiful 9-month-old. She and her husband live on Vancouver Island, surrounded by the sea which constantly reminds them of their precious girl. Named in honour of their love for the ocean, Cordelia, daughter of the sea.