About two years after receiving the initial diagnosis that would ultimately claim my baby’s life the same hour as her birth, I realized I had forgotten something rather important as a navigated the grief and pain that came after that diagnosis and then her death.
I had spent so much time and all my energy trying to make sure everyone remembered that my daughter mattered – I forgot that I mattered too.
I think every new mom goes through this to some extent. The new baby is the most important thing in the world, and Mom gets shoved to the side a bit (or a lot depending on your circumstances).
New moms can quickly lose themselves in this new role and forget that the other pieces of them have value, too, not just their motherhood.
It is similar for loss moms in some ways, but so incredibly different in other ways.
We are mothers also, so we need to learn to find our way in this new role, but there is no baby to show off and no traditional things to do to care for that baby.
We also must find our “new normal” amongst all this, whether we want to or not.
Through this process, we also have the challenge of the world around us telling us (often by accident) that our baby does not matter.
What is a loss mom to do?
The same thing any mother would do if she were told her child did not matter – fight for her child’s value to be recognized.
This takes an emotional toll, so it is easy to forget about yourself in the midst of it all.
Over the past two years, as I have lovingly found ways to mother my daughter despite her being in Heaven and me on Earth, I forgot that I matter.
Her short life matters and impacted many, and I will never, ever, stop finding ways to share that. I will never stop making sure she matters and mothering her the only way I know how.
But through all that, I can matter too.
I can refuse to let others dismiss my feelings, not JUST because I want Mira to matter, but also because I and my feelings matter too.
I can speak up about my needs as a grieving mother, not just to honor Mira, but because my needs matter too.
I have the right not to be bullied, put down, or hurt, not only because I am a grieving mother, but because I am a person.
I am a person who deserves kindness and should be valued. I have the right to be angry with those who hurt me on purpose or refuse to consider my feelings, though it would cause no harm to anyone else to do so.
I have the right to come first sometimes.
Not all the time, we must all take turns, but I do not need always to be last.
Being in the midst of grief can make you forget all this. The grief tells you lies about how you are not necessary, and you deserve the adverse treatment you are getting.
The grief takes your energy away, so when you consistently get the ‘short end of the stick’ in some areas of your life, you accept it and do not advocate for yourself.
When others walk away from you because you have changed, you take it and assume you deserve to be abandoned.
I think to move through that last two years, I needed my focus to be on my daughter instead of myself. It was all I was capable of.
But as I continue through this grief journey and keep working towards healing, it is time to remember that I matter too, and live as if me, my opinions, my needs, and my feelings are important.
The fact that I matter as well does not take anything away from my daughter’s value. I think it adds to it, especially for those closest to me.
If you love me and value me, then you must love and appreciate my daughter as well. We are a package deal.
I am not any more worthy of value than anyone else, but I can certainly not any less worthy either.
And to all my other loss moms out there, you matter too.