An End Of A Year Doesn’t Mean It's An End To Grieving My Baby

December 29, 2017

By Sanda Rathamone

Grieving Mother: "Where's My Baby Gone?"
Remembrance of Aborignal Children
of the "Stolen Generation," South Australia.
By, Silvio Appoyi

A year passes by so quickly, yet, living life without you feels more like it's been an eternity.
The end of 2017 is here, but I cannot find it in my heart to make any new years resolutions or even new hopes for 2018. Although we lost Elijah halfway through 2016, this year was the hardest for me.

Especially because I had hoped that this year was going to be "THE YEAR" that we would become pregnant again.

I wish that I could bid farewell to grief, along with a goodbye to 2017, so I could just "move on" with my life. Sadly, I will not be saying goodbye for very long time; the truth is, grief just doesn't end. I will get to say hello to another year of grief, which I'm not looking forward to, but that is the reality of surviving after loss.

There's just no way that grief disappears after one year, two, or even ten, twenty, thirty years and more. We just learn how to live with it. 

Yet, as I look back, there are so many things throughout the year that I am very proud of. Most of which were things I have learned. So below, I made a list of things I learned about grieving the loss of a baby. Things that I have struggled to overcome, accept, or am still struggling with.

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1. Grieving solo can be inspiring. 

I took a lot of walks alone and after these walks, I felt so much better. Maybe things haven't been solved or improved or changed in the way I would like, but at least my mind was cleared of clutter.

I found some time to let out tears that were long overdue or heal myself with the beauty of mother nature, which made me so grateful for life. Being and walking alone always gives me inspiration to write a new blog post or discover some new perspective that I couldn't have seen or thought of before, unless I was by myself.

I used to think that grief was a lonely experience because I just felt that no one understood me, but every time I made an effort to "getaway," I could hear myself better. My confusion turned into confidence and although I felt that no one understood me, I understood myself better. It was only during these walks that I knew that I was going to be okay and regained clarity of what I wanted and needed in life.

Being alone also helped me find solace in prayer and talking with God. I have never needed spiritual guidance more than I have before, nor have I ever looked more deeply into my own spiritual needs and spirituality.

2. Infertility is another form of grief and needs to be expressed, too. 

I didn't realize it until much later, but I wasn't just grieving the loss of my son. I was also grieving many more losses.

I was grieving long before I knew I was (before finally conceiving Elijah). I found that infertility can make grieving after stillbirth much more intense than it already was. Every month, there is this cycle of hoping for another baby, along with the disappointment when it doesn't arrive. This cycle of hope and disappointment piled up and at times, went to the extreme.

Some months, I felt that I was going to get pregnant and even believed I was. I thought I had read the "signs" correctly. Then, in many other months, I just cried and cried because I was crushed from the reality that there was no baby. It was overwhelming and made me feel like I didn't deserve a baby at all - it really dug into my self-esteem and made me feel worse.

Every month that a baby doesn't arrive, I grieve the loss of an opportunity and a life that could have been. And there was nothing I could do about it, but to tell the world of how much it hurts. Because there is more to grief than just mourning over life.

I learned that you could grieve over the loss of hope.

3. What works for me may not work for you. What works for you may not work for others. 

We lost Elijah for about a year-and-a-half now and since I have started blogging, I would receive messages from mothers asking for my help. I would never consider myself an expert or even know exactly how to help mothers through their grief, but later learned that not everyone could find healing in the same ways or things as I did.

Some are more private about loss, some are open. Some need to blame and curse, while others just needed a creative outlet. Some find certain things difficult, others find things easier. And that is okay!

The point is: be welcoming and respectful as much as possible.

Awhile back, I thought that the quote,"Everything happens for a reason" was absurd. People would use this as if it was an excuse to say, "I'm not sure what to say, other than that's life. Period." They would further tell me to "be grateful" - not that I wasn't or don't know how to be! Then again, for what reason would I have to lose my baby and am I really being ungrateful?

Soon, I discovered my purpose through loss (as a healer) and surprisingly found comfort in that quote. Unfortunately, some are not at that place in grief, like how I was before, or could ever fathom the idea that there may be a possible purpose in their loss. It didn't take me too long to learn that grief is a part of our journey in life and there are so many ways to grieve and different kinds of grief. I learned that through any kind of loss, we are able to see things in a different and much needed light.

We are exposed to a new kind of knowledge and with that newfound wisdom we are able to live life closer to it's fullest, as well as gain the ability to teach and help others through a similar experience.

I have accepted that, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear" and that my position in grief is to allow others the space to grieve - not give advice - but instead, show others that they possess the wisdom and power to heal themselves.

Not to mention how there is no "one-size-fits-all" in grief, everyone grieves and heals differently, and on their own time.

4. Being brave is not always about being present, but also knowing when to rest. 

I would put on a "brave face" every day at work, at school, even at home. I would try to hide my sadness, even though sometimes, my facial expressions completely failed me. I believed that I needed to push myself and be this strong woman that everyone expected me to be or to "suck it up" and "put on my big girl panties."

But, all that pushing and face masking is exhausting and I often didn't want to go anywhere that required me to mask my grief. Sometimes, I couldn't go to work because I was tired of pretending to "be happy" and making others comfortable through a smiley face and a hard working attitude. No matter how much I tried to just focus on work or school, grief was waiting for me to break apart.

It's a brave thing to be fearless and put yourself out there, but it also requires bravery and courage to tell others what you need and unapologetically take care of yourself. Bravery isn't always about being a fierce lion, it's also about being a bear, who knows when to hibernate.

We can only pretend to be strong for so long.

5. What you do matters more than what others do. 

This really took some time to sink in.

After being called "selfish, told "to grow up," and "stop whining and complaining" about my grief and infertility, I had realized how judgments, comments, and actions (or inactions) others had and made didn't really matter.

It didn't even matter if others didn't include my baby or didn't talk about him as much I would have liked. What matters was that I did something to include my baby, what matters is that I talked about my baby, and what matters is that I made the effort to do whatever it was I needed to do to heal and feel better.

Taking care of myself in the way that I knew how and needed to, is and was more important than what others thought of me or about how I was doing it. Even if someone was complimenting me or validated my grief; what matters more is that I empowered myself, as much as I did others.

6. Celebrate your victories. Not just the big ones, but the small ones, too. 

I never thought that I would be able to hold a baby again, but I did. I never thought that my blog about loss would reach over 20,000 views, but it did. I never thought that I could be happy for others, but I can be - even though it still hurts like shit and I want to scream and cry because it still doesn't feel fair that I have to watch everyone else have babies and not me.

I also didn’t think that I could wake up the next day after a heavy night of grief, but I did - I did many times. I didn’t know if I could find the silver lining, but I have and had to remind myself again and again what it was. I never thought that I would grow from grief, but I have. And I didn't think that I could survive after holidays and birthdays, but I can and I have - and it wasn't easy! 

I have learned to appreciate every small and big step I have made through grief, even if others didn’t notice them. Because grief is no small thing, it’s a life-changing experience that will continue to change and impact my life forever. 

I am happy that I made it to today because there were many times that I didn’t know if there would ever be a tomorrow. And breathing. It's honestly a victory to be able to breathe after battling the never-ending waves of grief. And you would have never known what it took for me to live another day without my baby.

I somehow managed to survive the inevitable, unimaginable, most misunderstood, and underestimated pain and suffering of losing a baby - no matter how small. And only warriors could say something like this.

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 Read the full story about Elijah:
Elijah's Story: From Gender Reveal To A Spontaneous Delivery

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