What does grief look like to you? What does it feel like to mourn from your unique perspective?
Do you mourn in solitary or do you find comfort sharing with others?
Have you ever felt judged based upon how you choose to mourn?
I was recently told that I “don’t handle loss well.” A statement that shocked me and garnered a very uncommon thing from me – a response.
I simply asked, “What’s that supposed to mean?” because I was thrown off my game. To me, my “ability” to grieve was beyond what I knew to be possible. Life remained even after I was shattered to pieces, changing every aspect of who I had been, reshaping me into this new being in the aftermath.
Life remained when I was sure I couldn’t.
As time passed, I made the choice to grieve loudly and I felt like maybe, I was “brave.” By brave I don’t mean superheroes and capes, I mean I force myself to do things that scare me, say “yes”, share my deepest emotions with anyone who may need.
In the same breath, I see loss parents as warriors, all of them. Anyone who can live through such heartache is a person who contains far more strength than should be fathomable.
We all grieve differently though, my grief may look like weakness to others. My inability to maintain a stiff upper lip may, by anyone’s standards seem like I’m flailing through life. All consumed, completely lost to emotion – because I choose to share my son.
Feeling grief is as individual as the loss that that person has lived through. Handling pain is just the same.
I feel like loss parents get put in a little box sometimes though. The box that says, “It’s okay to talk about dear old uncle Tim who passed away peacefully and all of his wonderful adventures. It’s okay to reminisce the good ole days, the lifetime of memories amassed with your departed spouse. It’s acceptable to shed a tear, to remember your loved one by marking a special occasion that happened in their absence. All of these things are ‘okay,’ so long as the person in question isn’t a child lost during pregnancy.“
I have sympathy for every kind of loss, for every person in pain. I can’t fix their grief but I can be a source of comfort to them. Holding their hand and listening costs me nothing.
Sometimes, I fear my little box stops others from feeling the same about my grief. I can’t reminisce with others who knew of my son in polite conversation like I could if I had lost my husband. His death, my grief, cause discomfort.
Sometimes, I feel I am someone to be pitied instead of someone to look at with pride.
Whatever your grief looks like to you, whatever way you find to live the best life you can in loss; in the end, you have to do what makes you happiest. You have to find ways to incorporate your broken pieces into your life.
When there is someone who confronts your methods or questions your “ability to grieve,” keep the focus on the idea that no one knows what it means to have lost your little one.
Don’t allow people who can never or will never understand what you are facing to change how you feel you should grieve.
Quietly, loudly, angrily, fiercely; in the end, no matter the path, we are all just parents in grief coping in the best way we know how.
What does grief look like to you?
Morgan McLaverty, a world traveler that has taken roots in southern New Jersey where her husband Sean was born and raised. Now, a stay at home mother, she cares for her three living boys; Gavin Cole(5), Rowan Grey(3) and Holden Nash (1). She also is a mother to Lennon Rhys. Lennon was born still at thirty one weeks and five days. His loss spurred on a need in Morgan to write her feelings, share her grief and help others in the process. She hopes her words will help shed the silence and taboo nature of discussing pregnancy and child loss.