After losing a baby during or just after pregnancy, waves of grief can hit months, even years later. The grief process takes most of us on an arduous journey. Many of us find ourselves mourning our babies long after the supportive cards, letters, phone calls from well-meaning friends and family stop coming. After a while, our grief comes in waves often when you least expect it: at the grocery store, at a place you visited when you were pregnant, seeing people who haven’t heard the news yet, listening to music, and can especially occur around holidays, birthdays and/or anniversaries.
I thought I was doing OK three months after giving birth to my stillborn twin sons, but then the holiday season was upon us. I didn’t feel much like celebrating. What was supposed to be a joyous occasion with two newborn babies was now a dark, empty and lonely time. Two days before Christmas, after much deliberation, my husband and I finally decided to get a tree to decorate.
Normally, we would have cut a tree down ourselves weeks before the holiday, dragged it happily home, and decorated it listening to Christmas carols, all while sipping a fine Cabernet. Not so that year. We hurriedly purchased our tree from a parking lot vendor and threw it up in the corner of our family room. I tried to make the decorating time cheery by playing some favorite Christmas music. For a while, the spirit of the season filled the room.
That is, until I leaned into the tree to place the final ornament on the last empty spot (I had lovingly collected ornaments for years prior). At that moment I lost my balance, and pushed the entire tree to the ground. The sound of ornaments crashing to the floor filled the room as I covered my eyes in horror. I fell to my knees in near hysterics- for this was the very last straw. My husband pulled me up and sat me on the couch. I cried and cried. My grief was still so raw, and this was far too much to bear. My husband held me, whispering that it would be OK. In my heart I knew it never would.
After a while I finally pulled myself together, took a deep breath, and surveyed the damage. Luckily, most of the broken ornaments were balls used as “fillers,” not ones I had truly treasured over the years. My husband and I silently pushed the tree back to its standing position, cleaned up the mess, and went to bed.
Waves of grief like that hit me hard for a year or more after my boys were gone. I still on occasion, eleven and a half years later, ache for my lost sons. But those waves of pure sorrow are now fewer and far between. Thankfully, that intense grief lost its grip over my body and mind after a period of time. I think it’s purely a mechanism of survival. Don’t be mistaken, I will always love and miss my twins. But the intense, constant grief of those first years has calmed.
If you have recently experienced a loss, know that you are not alone, and you too, will get through this. Be kind to yourself as you ride the waves, knowing they will subside in time…
Remembering Your Children With Heartfelt Sorrow,