Everyone wants to know in the beginning if this will get any better. Will it get any easier? Will we survive? Will we ever thrive again?
Because it sucks.
Like a kraken to your heart and soul and energy, it sucks the happiness and joy and hope and desire to live right out of you and then, in true mythical monster form, it keeps sucking. It’s a continual suck. It sucks the color and sensation from you then bleeds, sucking the color and sensation from everything around you in a never ending spiral.
Sometimes the suck is gentler than others. But it never stops and no matter how gentle the suck, each suck leaves marks.
Marks like tiny grief hickeys. Places where it hurts to touch. It seems like everyone can see it. Like a hickey on your forehead or chin. You can sort of hide it with make up and a smile but then the makeup shows and only serves to make it obvious that you’re trying to hide something. And the smile isn’t quite steady enough to fool anyone. But just the hint of grief is usually enough to make others not want to look any deeper. So we smile and put on the cover up. It’s easier to ignore the monster than to acknowledge it. But it doesn’t make it go away.
The constant suck is draining. Debilitating. It lowers the bar of our best on so many levels. We think we can no longer live our best life because we imagine our best life as being with all of our children.
But we are wrong. On some levels. There is no better or worse life. There is only the life we have, the day we’ve been given, the moment we are in. Though it may not be what we had hoped and dreamed of, though it for sure does not have all of the little people we wanted and thought it would have in it, it’s the only life we have. It is the life we grieve and we both love it and hate it.
For grief is a face that no rhinoplasty can improve. It is what it is. It’s an ugly, ever hungry kraken.
I hate that phrase — it is what it is. It feels like a waste of air to say. A waste of effort to type. But some things can’t be justified or explained away or beautified. They just are and all you can do is accept them. Exactly as they are. They are undeniably exactly as they seem to be.
The truth about life is we have no control about the path it takes. We make the choices we can and deal with the fallout and the surprises as they come. We take what we are given and try to make something out of it when we can. Other times, it’s all we can do to just try to survive it. To make it from this moment to the next.
In some of my darkest times, I did not even want to survive it. I wanted to give up and die and see my baby again. There were days I prayed for Him to just take me to Heaven. And, just like when I prayed for my baby to just be alive, God said no. And that’s why I’m here today. Because I’m not in control.
I often wonder how my losses have changed me. Am I more patient and more empathetic or just more sad? Do I see others sadness more easily because of my own? Am I more caring and more apt to reach out to those who are hurting? Am I more grateful for what I have or just more sorrowful for what I’ve lost? The truth is I don’t know. Because I don’t get to see who I would have been had I not lost my baby. I just imagine I can sometimes.
But here I am. I am who I am. I try to use my pain for good when I can, if nothing else but to make up for all the times when I feel like it makes me hopeless and helpless and useless. I do what I can when I can because of all the times when I can’t. And I often struggle with the feeling that the can’ts far outweigh the cans. And the feeling that, because of that, I’m failing. And other times, I know I haven’t failed yet because I haven’t given up yet.
But I digress. The question was does it get any better? Any easier? And the answer is I still don’t know. Just like parenting my living children, sometimes I think “I’ve got this.” And other times, I know I’m in over my head and drowning. And it often takes me a minute to consider whether to try to swim or just give in.
It’s been over 2 years for me. And there are still things that take me back to my darkest moments. But for the most part, these days I tend to be happy that in those days, God said no to me being all done.
This life I grieve will always be extra. Like guacamole that I didn’t want. It changes the taste and texture and color of my life in ways I can’t even describe. And I can’t go back. It is a switch that cannot be unflipped. It is tattooed on all of me forever. I am undeniably irrevocably changed forever.
I understand now how Naomi felt when she said “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara; for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and Yahweh has brought me home again empty.” (Ruth 1:20-21) I understand how a person can be so affected by one event in their life that they feel like a completely different person, so different that they should be called something else entirely. Emptied and depleted and afflicted. It’s like I was someone else before. And I don’t think I would recognize her if I met her on the street now.
And that is the crux of it all. I am not who I was. I don’t know who I was. And I am still trying to learn who I am now.
I have lost the hope that I can ever return to the person that I was. That person was crushed. Obliterated. Like she had never even existed. But I have not lost all hope. My hope now is this — that this life I grieve may be easier if and when I learn who I am now.
I am not there yet. I might never get there. And if I do get there, I might find out I’m wrong. But there is no grief manual and no one told me what I should do to make this better. To learn to live again. To learn to thrive again.
I am feeling my way in the dark. And this is my current path. I feel like sharing it is possibly the blind leading the blind and I wish I had a better answer. I wish I could say “it gets better” or “one day you will wake up cured if you do the following. . .” But I don’t want to feed anyone false hope because I know how damaging that can be.
So all I can offer you is the hope that gets me out of bed each day. That one day I may know myself again. That one day I may recognize the face in the mirror. And that on that day, I may smile at her again.
But today is hard. This life I grieve is hard. I am definitely not where I want to be yet. But I am not quitting or giving up hope. This new me is crushed, but I feel that she is worth getting to know. And I think getting to know her will help me a lot.
I’m not giving up on her yet. But the grief kraken is still her. That is where I am. And I’m not sure if I answered your question at all. But that answer is all I have to offer.
Grieving on. . .