We have a lot of societal views on grief. Everyone knows the idea of the “stages.” Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance.
We have this idea that grief is a linear process. That you start at step one, go to step 5, and then you are done. Grief complete.
Denial. I had denial at first. True denial, where I thought the doctor was joking. And then more when I hoped I had misunderstood. Denial. I thought – “this can’t be happening. This is a mistake.” And for months I thought “did that really happen?” It still seems unreal sometimes. I never thought it would happen to anyone I knew, let alone me.
Anger. I was angry. How could this be happening? What do you mean that I have to spend two days in labor. Have my milk come in. Go through recovery and post partum depression with no newborn in my arms? I was so angry that this happened to us. You don’t want it to be anyone, but you look at other babies and wonder what the rhyme or reason is that some babies live and some don’t? I am still angry sometimes. Angry that there is such a taboo about talking about pregnancy and infant loss. Angry. No one should have to go through this.
Bargaining. “Please let it be something else. Something easier. Something we can deal with. Please just let him live.” During my scans I hoped and prayed for life altering conditions, as long as they were survivable. I bargained and begged to get pregnant again. To have a living baby. I bargain and beg for everyone I know. “Please let their ultrasound be ok. Please let their baby live.” I am constantly afraid that it will happen to them too.
Depression. How do you keep living when your baby isn’t? How are you ever going to be happy again? In the early days it feels impossible. And then weeks, months and years pass. And you are still left wondering how you live without them.
Acceptance. Noah is gone. There is nothing I can do to bring him back. I don’t cry at every conversation anymore. Not every one. But there are things that bring me right back there. We learn to keep going. To honor their memory. To try to live, to do good, for them.
I can go through each stage in the course of a day. There and then back. Skipping around. People have mentioned “when I was grieving.” It always takes me by surprise. When I was grieving? It’s not a time period that you go through and then are done. I will always grieve the loss of my son. I can’t get over it. We keep moving. But the loss is forever. The love is forever. The grief is forever.