I have experienced grief before in my life. Before my son passed away. I had experienced death of loved ones. Dear loved ones that lived in my home and I spent everyday with. But death of a child is so very different. Children aren’t supposed to die. Babies, especially, as they are just beginning their life. So while I may have experienced grief before, nothing could have prepared me for this grieving process.
My grief started the moment I knew there was a 1 in 10 chance that my baby had trisomy 18. While I was told over and over again that “nothing was wrong” and “not to worry”, I could not shake the feeling that everything was wrong and I would come to find out the feelings of anxiety and worry and hopelessness were just seedlings of what my grief would grow into later.
What I wish I could have truly understood back then was how much the grief never goes away. It changes ever so slightly, it might get less weepy, but it certainly doesn’t get less sad. The anxiety never left. The stages of grief just cycle, over and over again. I also learned that grief has very little to do with sadness. It’s a million emotions at once. I don’t think about him less or get over it more. I just get better at coping.
Anyone who has ever lost anyone they’ve loved will tell you that their life turns into a new normal. Daily actions are always accompanied by its new companion–grief. There is no going back to the person you were. They died with the loved one you lost. It’s not always a bad thing. I am grateful for the person I have grown into. I have more empathy and love. I am more patient and understanding. When people are having bad days, I truly wonder what else is going on in their life.
At times, I long for the old me. The one who didn’t know so much. The version of me that could blissfully walk through the baby section without anger or resentment.
The version who didn’t get awkward around “boy mom” talk. Who didn’t feel the need to argue that I am a boy mom too..but only to realize that the truth is I won’t ever know what it’s truly like to raise a boy.
Continuing to learn and navigate and cope my “new normal” will always be where I am in my grief. Riding the waves of ups and downs. The ups are so freeing–giving me glimpses of my old self–only to recognize how far I’ve traveled. The downs are brutal, realizing how much I hate the new normal I’m now forced to live in. Things that never used to be part of my life are now “normal”.
It’s normal for me and my husband to fantasize about what our 3.5 yr old Isaac would be like. I jump between usual 3 yr old antics and picturing my boy in wheelchair with feeding tubes severely handicapped.
It’s normal for me to start sobbing in public places from a trigger that no one else catches and for me to hide those tears because I don’t want to talk about it.
It’s normal for me to still “after all this time” hate phrases like ” It was meant to be” “he was too special for this earth” “he only needed a body” “God only gives us what we can handle” ” 2 girls, I bet Dad wishes he had a boy” and other similar phrases.
It’s normal for my heart to absolutely shatter at the mere thought or mention of a friend, acquaintance or a news article speaking of someone losing a child or a baby or having a baby with detected abnormalities during ultrasounds. Sometimes the trigger hits me so hard I can’t even breath and it sends me into a panic attack.
It’s normal for me to feel like I don’t want to do anything new because it’s another thing that Isaac hasn’t experienced with us.
It’s normal for me to talk about my dead son while shopping for groceries, waiting in line, at doctors appointments, book clubs, church, girls nights and getting pedicures.
It’s also normal for it not to phase me–speaking as I would about any of my children, but the people I speaking with to be moved to tears and I find myself comforting them for the death of my child.
It’s normal for me to totally lose over something completely unrelated to the death of my son.
It’s normal for me to never feel like my family is complete. To feel guilty when I look at pictures of just the 4 of us.
It’s normal for me to feel resentful when people don’t include Isaac and yet don’t quite know what to say when they do ( I am always grateful though).
Yes, grief is weird. Normal is not normal. And yet grief has made the person I am today. I could go on stating hundreds of specific examples as well just as many general situations.
The truth is grief today is a whole lot like it was 4 years ago. With days where I am absolutely a mess and days when I am hopeful and full of faith. Most days it’s a little of both.
So where am I today? Today, I am grateful. Tired. Honest. Humble. Faithful. And hurting. Whenever I take this much time to ponder on my son and what he means to me, it always hurts. It doesn’t mean the hurt isn’t worth it, but my heart aches for him in a way that isn’t describable.
Today, like always, I miss him.