I have so much I want to tell you. I hope I can give you some help, give you some hope. Please pick and choose what you need from what I can say. And also know: I am here to listen.
First of all, and I’ve told you this already, but I really want you to remember it: You are a mother; your partner is a father. You are parents. You will question this in the next weeks or months. You will have people tell you that you are not a mother. Really awful people will say it to your face. Innocently, earnestly.
Try to avoid really awful people.
You carried and nurtured your son. He grew and thrived under your heart. It is a great unfairness — how inadequate is that word? — that he is not here, in your arms. It is the most devastating thing you will endure.
Second, grief has no timeline. Grief is a different animal when you are living inside of it. It doesn’t have steps; it doesn’t end. Other people are already moving on, and it’s because they are *just* sad. Not to minimize their sadness, but sadness is not grief. You and your partner are in a different boat. A very lonely boat.
Cry as much and whenever you need to. Someday, you will go through a day without crying, but that day may be months away. The first time I realized I had gone through most of the day without crying, I started crying. It felt like a betrayal of my son. It’s not — it wasn’t. It was a sign that I was actually healing. I didn’t want to heal. But it does happen.
When we lost Gabriel, we had a memorial service. My uncle, my father’s brother, lost a son to a car accident when the son was 22, 30-some years ago now. My uncle walked up to me, put his arms around me, and said, “You will never get over this.” And it was such a relief for me to hear that! It took away all the expectations, all the worries I had about actually, you know, getting over the death of my son.
It is survivable, as you said in an email to me. You will get through. Be gentle on yourself. Physically, too. You delivered a baby. That is hard on a body. Couple that with the emotional trauma you are experiencing, and know that you are not going to bounce back quickly, either physically or emotionally.
Two more notes about grief:
Your partner will grieve in his own way. You may not recognize it as grief. It may be hard; you may feel he is moving away from you in these early, grief-filled days. You will both do things that the other doesn’t understand. I encourage you both to try to stay connected however you can. But try not to judge each other’s grief. It’s not a contest.
And back to those really awful people. In general, people are well-meaning. I am willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. But, you will hear a lot of stupid things for awhile. If you can, try to be understanding and gentle with people who say stupid things to you. They don’t know what to say — there really are no words for what you are enduring right now. If you can’t be understanding, you have my permission to walk away, to put down the phone, to delete the emails, to unfriend them on Facebook.
Someone will ask you if you are over it yet. You will not be over it; you will never be over it. And I’ll tell you: that’s perfectly okay.
You are in my heart.
red pen mama