Over the last year, I have been inundated with emails, blog comments, instagram DMs, facebook messages, etc, from women who have lost their moms, moms who have lost their moms, dads who have lost their wives, etc. I have woken up to these messages. I’ve gone to sleep to these messages. I even got one on my birthday.
If you’re here, then there’s a good chance you found me from an article I wrote on Motherly. Or, perhaps, you found me googling grieving your mother. Or, maybe you found me for my motherhood and parenting advice. But right now, I’m starting with the grieving part – and this isn’t just about my mom.
Each time, I’ve read the message fully and with care. I’ve absorbed the grief of each person. I’ve let myself fall back into the feelings of my own grief, knowing that I will forever have it because I’ve been lucky to love someone so much. These messages have brought forth pride in my writing – to have touched someone so much that they actually reach out is incredible and something an introvert like me longs for. Sometimes I write and send my words into the abyss wondering if anyone actually sits on the other side and acknowledges them. It’s not an easy thing to be so vulnerable. But I do it because I need to – and knowing others need it too gives me fulfillment.
I am 2.5 years on the other side of my mom dying, but I’ve been grieving for my mom much longer. My grieving started the moment I knew she was going to die. I don’t say this lightly. But I’m sure many can relate. The moment your mom has an expiration date – In her case, the statistics said less than 5 years – you start the grieving process. Your mother’s life begins to unfold before you and the images in your head, the ones where she is old, beautiful, and gray are no longer the images you are allowed to have. You must burn them. You must cast away all the promises of a long and fulfilled life with your mother as a grandparent and maybe
For me, I didn’t expect to ever see my mom old and gray. But, cancer gave me this. Instead of a 85 year-old woman dying peacefully in her sleep, I was given a 57 year-old woman who looked just as frail, weak, and tired. I was given bones and sagging flesh of an elderly woman in the last weeks of her life. I was given dark, curly hair that did not belong to her – chemo gave her that. I was given a mother who barely had a voice – the drugs gave her that. I was given a mother who looked thirty years older as she died – cancer gave her that.
I’m not thankful to have seen her old. It wasn’t what I expected for her, for me, for any of us.
But I’ve learned over the last few years that grieving is a journey – an unexpected one. I have days now that are harder than right after she died, when it was still shocking. I have days not as hard now. I have days that encompass all spectrums of my grief throughout the day. Those days are a shit show but I’m here for it – basking in it.
Lately, there has been more. If you follow my blog, you may have noticed that I haven’t posted since November – and even that was just because I had contracts with Etsy owners and I was already late posting my daughter’s birthday post. Otherwise, my last post was about my miscarriage.
I have not been able to write anything decent since my miscarriage. For a writer, this is a big deal. How do you stop creating? How do you stop doing your art? You lose yourself a bit when this happens.
This grief is different. Navigating the loss of a child you only knew about for three weeks… it’s not the same as navigating the loss of a mother you knew your entire life.
I’m still exploring my feelings. I’m still not ready to be pregnant again, but I’m getting there. In my mind, this angel baby was a boy and his name was Drew. I don’t know why, but this name came to me immediately when I thought about him. It wasn’t a name on my list but ever since I cannot get Drew out of my head. And maybe it wasn’t a boy, but I wasn’t sick and I craved spicy food which felt like a boy to me. So Drew it is.
There is nothing tangible to cling to when you lose a baby via miscarriage, especially early miscarriage. There is no ultrasound picture to hang on the wall. There is just a positive pregnancy test – the only thing you can physically touch.
The hardest part of this journey of grief has been not having my mother to share it with me. She had 2 miscarriages. I am actually a rainbow baby myself. Dealing with this grief without her wisdom has felt extremely isolating. I’ve been teetering on the edge of asking for professional help, wondering if maybe this is PPD and not just grief. But something about that seems selfish. I know it shouldn’t. But so many are going through worse. I didn’t lose my baby full term. I lost him at 7 weeks pregnant. Why am I so down?
That’s what I ask/tell myself, at least. But I know the answer. That baby was growing inside of me for seven weeks. He may not have had the chance to grow into more than a sac. Something may have been wrong… but he was still growing. There was still a pregnancy. There was still a lot of freaking love for a child and that has nowhere to go now.
And now I’m here, pouring my heart out. I hope you have the courage to share your stories. I would love to read them. I would love to have a little hope back in my life. I know someday I’ll get my number 3. I do. It has been a hard holiday season with all the grief – especially when so many are announcing pregnancies. You can’t help but be bitter. But I also know a lot of those babies were fought for – through IVF, miscarriages, etc. And that’s the kind of hope that I need right now.
So, keep the messages coming about your beautiful mamas watching over in heaven… but also send me those about your sweet angel babies too and your rainbow babies. I’m here for all of it.