There’s a word that floats around in the Babyloss world, a word that people use to describe their attitude, their journey, their view on grief. Healing. All around, parents are healing the scars the loss of their child left them with, they are healing the hurt, healing their lives. Everyone is healing, they are painting pictures, and writing blogs, and creating memories and it is all very very healing. I am not healing. Not yet.
I always assumed that healing must be what you do after you’ve finished grieving. Healing has such positive connotations, how could I possibly work on healing when my grief is so dark, and I feel so much despair? Maybe healing comes later, when the grief goes away. Except now, I think that maybe the grief never goes away. How can it? I’m not ever going to stop loving or missing my daughter, so how do I not grieve her? How do I find this magical place of healing, and still grieve? Why does healing sound so much more appealing, and yet so unattainable?
I’ve known for awhile that a lot of my grief revolves around anger. Anger that she was sick, anger that we had to make unbearable decisions, anger that she died, anger that people didn’t know how to help me, anger that people were unkind, or threw their pregnancies in my face. I’ve been so angry, for so long, I don’t know how to not be angry anymore. For me, grief has become synonymous with anger. The sadness has somewhat dissipated and what is left is rage, an incomprehensible fury, that this happened to me. It makes me shake. It’s a violent feeling that overtakes me, and leaves me feeling weak and vulnerable. Resentment is my new normal, I resent the people it didn’t happen to, I resent that no one understands, I resent that no one knew how to act. I even resent her sometimes. How could she be so cruel as to be sick? How could she do this to me? Why did she leave me so broken?
I can feel my grief. Physically feel it. It sits between my shoulder blades. It feels like someone taking hold of my scapulas and pulling me backwards. Not down, but back. Back towards her, because she never got to be in my future and will only ever be my past. A dark force dragging me there, whispering, “come, come, it is dark, come, she’s here.”
And I don’t want to go, but at the very same time, I do. Because that’s where she is. The anger is for her, it’s to show her that I’m not ok that she died. Im not. It will never, ever, be ok. Or right, or acceptable. I will always hate it. I am angry because I loved her, and how do you grieve someone you loved if you’re not angry they died?
I like my pain. I do. It reminds me she was real. If I let go of my rage, and hate and hurt, then what do I have of her? How do I show the world how much I loved her, without being hurt that she’s gone? If I am healed, where is she? Does grieving keep her alive? Will healing make her vanish? Can I be healed and still have her? If the hole in my heart that belongs to her fills, where does she go? If I’m not broken, how she left me, have I forgotten her?
I’m not ready to forgive the people who hurt me when she died. I’m not ready to feel like it’s acceptable that people talk about her dying as if it’s an event that happened one day, in the past, and left no impact. “It’s awful what you went through.” I’m still going through it. “That was such a tragedy”. It still is, she may be gone, but I’m left to live with it. “I’m so glad you worked through that”. I am in no way close to having worked through anything. “You’ll get through this” Through what? She’s not a puddle of mud I need to squelch my way through, and on the other side the land is dry and safe. “You survived it”. Because you can see my physically standing here I survived? What about the emotional turmoil I can’t work my way out of?
I think I’ve figured out that healing for me will be grief without the anger and the hate. Healing will be when I can talk about her without feeling sick with rage. Healing will be when I forgive others. Healing will be when I allow myself to realise that my grief is not worse than that of others. Healing will be when I decide that all I need to grieve her is love. When loving her is enough. When I don’t need to be broken to love her. When I can say she’s mine, without it being because my heart is broken for her. Healing will be sacred. Healing will be peaceful. Healing will be where there is no hate.
The pattern of the paisley teardrop has always been a symbol of her. I see it everywhere and it comforts me. It keeps her present. It’s a way to keep her with me. I am drawn to it. And a few months ago it I bought an affirmation that was part of a series done by Carly Marie. I bought it because the picture was a teardrop. I keep it on the mirror in my bedroom and I read the words regularly. But just today I noticed, properly, as if I had never read the words before, that the affirmation title is Healing. I realised that when I read the words I skip the first line. I am not choosing healing. But I know one day I need to. It’s not something that is going to happen, it’s something I will need to choose.
I don’t think I want to heal. I’m not ready. I need to figure out how healing won’t mean forgetting. In a world where it seems everyone else already has, I can’t bare to forget her. I need to be the one who keeps her here. What if healing means I’m not allowed to be sad when I need to? I need to be able to sad, I need people to be kind, because I will still miss her, even if I am healed.
I hate the perceptions other people have too. If I’m grieving, I’m depressed, if I’m happy then I’m healed, and healed means that I’m over it. I just don’t know how to explain where I am. I don’t need people to worry about me, or judge me, I just need to be accepted for where I am at, in this incredibly long process.
Sometimes it’s as if she happened in another life. In someone else’s life. I read other people’s stories of leaving their babies at the hospital, and I am so overcome with sorrow, I feel so moved and hurt for them, and then I realise that I did that too. That it really did happen. At 24 years old, I experienced the worst thing anyone ever could. My daughter died. I gave birth to her. I held her tiny, still, broken body. I bathed her. I dressed her. I held her and wept. I carried her to the morgue. I drove her home on ice in a styrofoam box. It was all completely horrendous and utterly terrifying. And I did it. It really happened. At the moment I’m just proud to still be standing.
And I’m not ready to heal from it just yet.