Does anyone else feel like they always have to rewind after their loss? Like everything “after loss” requires you to return to the loss to make it make sense? Or is it just me?
Anyways, I did something a couple months ago that has help me in my grief journey a lot and I’d like to share the ups and downs of it with y’all. But first, as usual, I need to rewind and give some back story.
When I was pregnant with Maggie, I had a great job. Not great paying. Not even close to my house (one hour away, in fact). But every day I worked I was surrounded by great people. So that made my job great. I loved it.
When I was about 6 months pregnant with Maggie, they restructured and my job no longer existed. Which was fine with me because my sister was really sick and I wanted to spend time with her. I had gotten to the point where my job became exhausting. I needed to prepare for Maggie to come home. It seemed like a good thing for me at the time.
Two weeks later, my sister died. I felt a little lost because I couldn’t spent time with her anymore like I’d looked forward to. But there was still a baby to prepare for.
The next month I got shingles and spent a month laying down on my couch because it was the only place where I could find a comfortable position. So it was good I didn’t have a job then.
And then Maggie died. I gave birth. I planned her funeral. I spent months in bed recuperating physically. All of which made it good that I didn’t have a job at that time.
And then one day I woke up and I realized I was a stay at home mom with no children at home with me. I felt useless. It was depressing. I spent most of the time between kids getting on the bus and kids getting back off sleeping. Because I couldn’t handle the nothing to do, the no one to take care of, the empty hours that shouldn’t be empty, the silence that screamed at me, the wrongness of it all.
I started to feel like my husband had it “more together” than me. I started to wonder if he was handling the loss better than me because he had a job to go to during the day. I started to feel like maybe I should get a job and see if it helps.
But I had 4 kids in school so I needed to work during those school hours. Or have a job they could go with me to. And we wanted to move. So I didn’t want to find a job then move and not want to drive to it anymore.
So I procrastinated. Procrastination is really easy when all you really want is something you can’t have. Like to be a stay at home mom with a living baby.
It’s easy to make excuses when you want something so badly that is just not in the cards for you at the moment. It’s easy to coast by and not fight when you’re drowning and feel like you just can’t swim anymore, especially if you no longer care if you drown. It’s easy to take the easy way out. It’s easy to stop pushing yourself to do better. It’s easy to settle for less when you can’t have what you want anyways. It’s easy to feel like it’s all or nothing and all isn’t an option anymore. So I did easy. Because everything was hard and I just couldn’t do the hard anymore.
And then we moved. We moved right where I wanted to be. Ten minutes from the job I had loved so much. So I gained a little courage and asked if there were any availabilities there. And there were.
So in August, I went back to work. I became a preschool teacher for 2 year olds 4 days a week. And I love it.
It isn’t always easy. Some days it has been really hard to walk the halls I walked while pregnant with Maggie. Remembering her kicking and alive. Remembering my innocence and hopes for her. Remembering how they all got dashed.
Some days it’s hard to see the baby that was due the same day Maggie was due. The child who lived. My eyes are drawn to her as if magnetically. I can’t not look at her. I love to look at her and imagine how she is is how Maggie would be. But it hurts sometimes.
Sometimes it’s hard to teach children just slightly older than Maggie would be now. Two year olds are probably my favorite age group. They grow and develop and learn so much over the course of a year. But I never quite lose sight of the fact that Maggie would almost be this age. And I’m missing seeing her growing and developing and learning. So much.
Sometimes it’s hard to hear the names of my babies said out loud to other babies. I love hearing their names but it hurts that they aren’t here for me to hear their names used in reference to them.
So now I am doing the hard thing. Lots of the hard things. And it has been so good for me. It gets me out of bed. It gives me a purpose. It stretches me and grows me.
It gives me such joy to be teaching sweet babies about Jesus and life skills and letters and numbers and colors. Having their sweet voices sing along with mine and say the pledge with me. It is so sweet.
But it’s not just sweet. There’s an edge to it sometimes, a bitterness I can’t deny. But that’s just a reality of my life now. No matter where I go or what I do. It’s something I have to live with. It’s part of my new reality.
So I have been working hard and loving it and learning and growing. It keeps me busy, body and mind. But it doesn’t give me nearly as much time to process what I’m feeling or blog. There’s so much I want to say but it’s like I have a hard time putting it into words. I’m learning the benefits of a quiet time to think. I’m learning how badly I need it.
So this week, while I’m out of work for Thanksgiving and spending time with my kids, I’ll also be processing the feelings I’ve been dealing with. Putting what little quiet time I’ll have to good use. And probably blogging more because it’s part of my processing.
Going back to work has helped me a lot, and I hope this break will help me a lot also. I know God can use it all for my good and His Glory.
So that’s where I am and what I’ve been up to. That’s what’s been helping me now. But there was a lot of grieving and healing that I had to do before I could get to this point. A point where I was able to come back to work. It wasn’t something I could have done right away. It was 17 months between losing Maggie and going back to work. It was 6 months between losing Ruth and going back to work. And I needed most if not all of that time to be ready to go back to work.
We are all different. We all grieve differently. All griefs have a different time line. All grievers have different needs. So while I’m telling you going back to work helped me, I’m not telling you it will help you. Only you can know when you’re ready to work or volunteer or commit to doing something on a regular basis.
All I’m saying is I got to a point where I needed something to occupy my time and mind and hands. A time when stay at home grieving was like spinning in place. I felt like I was a hamster on a wheel and I needed to concentrate on something else to continue to grow and to go somewhere.
Not everyone who loses a child can work with children. Not everyone is at the point where they can be around other people on a regular basis. Wherever you are in your grief, I hope you find what you need for your growth and healing. I have such hope for us all to learn to live again. And I am so thankful I am no longer in that awful phase of barely surviving all day long. So thankful for the healing.
Work is not a one size fits all solution. It isn’t a solution for everyone. But in this time, it is helping me. A lot. And I like to share what helps me. So there you have it.
Grieving on. . .