Weeks…. Months… years… decades even… Time has passed since your loss. Maybe you’re still a wreck. Maybe the days have gotten a little easier as they drag on. Maybe you’re somewhere in the middle. Maybe you can look at the old ultrasound photos… the “mom-to-be” cards… the pictures after they were born and maybe, maybe you don’t cry every time you see these things. Maybe you can look at them and smile. Maybe you find yourself staring at the memories in reality and in your mind as you gently caress the space your little one once occupied. That emptiness makes you sad and maybe you shed a tear… maybe you look away… maybe you softly utter loving words in hopes that they hear you/feel you/sense you wherever they are. If you’ve already taken down your photos or never even had them up because it was all just too much, this post isn’t for you. This is for the angel parents who remember and want to keep remembering in this way but are struggling with when to turn that page on the story of their lives.
I’ve gotten “better” at being able to look at the pictures around our house of our girls without melting down. I’ve gotten “better” at being able to smile about their memory. It might be because I talk about them a lot… here and with my partner. I also talk to them a lot so I suppose that’s some way of desensitizing myself. I had the thought over the weekend, “should we take some of these down?” The idea frankly kind of terrifies me and makes me question what that will mean for my memory of the girls. Does it mean I’m trying to forget them? Does it mean I’ll remember them less? Does it mean I’m trying to hide them from others? Does it make me uncomfortable to see them? Does me staying in this place, on this page of my story, keep me from getting to what happens next? Oh the battles that go on in my brain about when and if we should take down some of the things we have up…When I finally said it out loud to my partner, I didn’t even finish the statement before the tears broke through. Hearing myself say it simply broke my heart. The idea of “moving on” made me feel like I had to leave them behind in some way and that’s not really something I want to do. I’m not over their loss. I’m not yet at that place where I can say, “yeah, that happened, it sucked and now I’m moving on with my life to see what happens next.” I’m somewhere between there and a crumpled lump of a person sobbing on the floor. Things aren’t as bad as they were and I also know that they’re not as good as I believe they can and will get with time. I’m working hard on this so I figured, why not try this together, shall we? I’m going to share with you some things I am doing/will be doing as I continue this healing journey. What works, we’ll keep, and what doesn’t we’ll throw out & try again.
- Don’t force it. It’s ok to start to have the thoughts. Maybe it’s part of the healing. It doesn’t mean you have to make any concrete decisions in that moment. Play with the idea in your head and really pay attention to what emotions come up for you when you go there in your mind. It’s gonna take however long it’s gonna take.
- Meditate. Take some time and really think/be still on what you want in your life. My therapist suggested I meditate on what purpose holding onto my grief in this way, serves. That struck me as an interesting question so I’m going to explore it. She also said to “trade places with your pain” in my meditation and ask, “what am I supposed to learn from this?”
- Acupuncture. I’ve semi-slacked on this because it’s kind of pricey for individual sessions but I am going to resume. This practice can help to clear, align, refocus and eliminate blockages so try this as often as you can/is recommended. I have only had one session since losing the girls in June but after it, I noticed a significant improvement in my mood within that week or two.
- Positive affirmations & transformative thinking. Think of all the negative or sad or harder feelings/thoughts you’re having and write down a replacement for them. If the uterus is the center of creation then say to yourself daily (and mean it!), “I am ready to create life.” Give yourself messages about your readiness to heal and affirmative statements about how you are repaired & ready. It may not be entirely true at this moment but it will be.
- Talk to your support system. This angel parent space can be super lonely. Even within your relationship where both of you have experienced the same loss. It can make you feel like you should be moving on or like you don’t want to burden anyone else with your sadness. Good people, good friends & love ones will be there for you when you need them. Don’t fake it or lie when people ask how you are. If you’re feeling crappy or down because of the loss, it’s ok to say that. I’m not saying everything has to be a sob-fest because that is kind of exhausting for other folx but you can be honest. If someone asks, “how are you?”, you can say. “… not doing too good right now… rough time of year and I’m a little down.” If they ask you why & you want to explain, go ahead. But if you don’t want to but just want to honor your feelings, you can leave it at that. People who matter will understand and people who don’t understand, don’t matter.
- Seriously think about whether you’re a both/and OR an either/or kind of person. What do I mean? Well, in this context, are you a person who can keep up pictures and grieve in that way while also moving forward in your life OR do you need to focus on this portion of grieving and healing as much as possible before trying to conceive again/starting a new relationship/returning to work/etc? It’s something to think about and you will likely be able to discern what kind of person you have been historically by looking at old patterns. In some ways I’m a both/and kind of person and in others, I’m very either/or so… I’m kinda screwed right now…
- Be patient, shower/surround yourself with love. Do things that make you feel good (legally of course), be around people who make you feel loved and supported and held, use kind words with yourself, be kind to others, wear clothes that make you feel cozy & comfy, find joy in the things you can and hold onto that.
So when is it time? I seriously don’t know. What I do know is that “time” will be different for everyone. For some, it was the moment they left the hospital or it was confirmed their body had passed all that was left of their little one. For others it takes time and they’ll just know when they know. For other still, the “time” may never come and they will be able to integrate the past & the present. Feel free to share you experiences below. <3