I was able to hold my daughter for a too-brief period of time after I delivered her. I remember the overwhelming feeling of love as I cradled her in my arms.
The moment too fleeting and without permanency, love still found a way into my heart.
However, grief found a way in that day, also, and has become an unfailing reminder of the love I cannot give.
In the year since I lost my daughter, I’ve learned that grief needs to be acknowledged.
In the early stages, I would stand firm against it. I would brave out the moment and keep my smile permeating throughout the room as to not inconvenience anyone around me.
After all, stillbirth is an uncomfortable subject and who wants to ruin a good moment with something as sobering as a baby dying.
But grief is a stubborn thing and does not back down to half-hearted attempts trying to push it away.
No, I may have won in the immediate, but my grief would grow and come back and be an unwavering guest until I sat in my feelings and acknowledged how I felt.
My grief comes to visit during the most unexpected times – when I’m at a happy hour and the conversation is about something innocuous like an upcoming concert, as a parent gives the don’t-you-dare glare to their child to behave, or even when I’m hiking.
It can be anytime, and I can be anywhere when grief sweeps my body. I’ll be feeling great for days, and then, as if called from an unknown place, my new-found partner pays me an unwelcome visit.
I can’t help but answer the door.
My days of pretending grief was a non-existent house guest ended on the most random of occasions: at a book club meeting. I’ll talk about the book, enjoy a glass of wine, and maybe make new friends along the way, I thought.
As we sat in the living room, with no obvious trigger, grief came crashing through the door.
No! I thought. I’m happy right now.
Don’t do this.
But then, I realized every single time I tried to ignore it, grief would beat on the door a bit louder the next time. Okay, grief. You win. I’ll allow myself to feel this.
So, I did.
I let a tear fall down my face, wiped it away, and sat in my feelings until a sense of peace came over my body.
I zoned into what I was feeling in that moment and zoned out of the incandescent worry about inconveniencing others.
And guess what happened? I felt better, and no one said a thing.
In fact, I’m fairly confident no one even noticed my silence as I worked through the grief raging in my head. It was okay. I had let the grief in, and I was able to process it in my way.
One of my favorite sayings about grief is that grief is love with nowhere to go. I may not understand why or how my grief comes to pay me a visit when it does. But I do believe it is closely tied to love.
I have so much love for my daughter and sometimes this comes through as a loud knock at my door.
I have to open it up and let that love be known.
I allow the tears to stream down my face – or whatever it is my grief needs me to do in that moment – and I do so without shame.
For it is a real feeling that needs to be shared with its partner, me.
And I truly believe it is in those times I am transported back to the brief moment I was able to hold my daughter.