The loneliness of sustained grief

There comes a time in the course of loss when you stop hearing from people. It’s inevitable, but eventually people stop texting or calling. They forget the days your life stopped. Anniversaries of your loss go unremembered by anyone but you and perhaps a select, close few. Eventually, your grief becomes solely yours, and that’s its own double-edged blade.

It’s great, kind of, because now you can pretend to be okay [and, sometimes, even often, you are okay], and nobody says “how are you holding up?” and you don’t have to say “oh, as well as can be expected” or some other phrase that isn’t dead inside, thanks, haven’t slept in weeks and I think God hates me and I just want to lay down and die all the way. You cease to be quite such a severe conversation stopper.

It’s awful, mostly, because now you’re truly alone with your grief. Very few people even know; fewer still mark time with you. And honestly, it’s not their job to remember your babies, and you know that; but it’s still a wrench when all you can think about is how old your baby would be today, and the wide world goes on untouched.

I’m in a poetry class this semester, and here’s the poem that’s made me ugly cry:

“…No later light has lightened up my heaven,
No second morn has ever shone for me;
All my life’s bliss from thy dear life was given,
All my life’s bliss is in the grave with thee.

But, when the days of golden dreams had perished,
And even Despair was powerless to destroy,
Then did I learn how existence could be cherished,
Strengthened, and fed without the aid of joy….”

Thanks, Emily Bronte, that was painful and hard to read and you really nailed it.

They say there’s no word for a parent who’s lost a child, but in fact there are many: ruined, destroyed, hollow. They’re normal words, but they work just fine to describe me.

I worry that all my life’s bliss is behind me; I equally wonder if that’s really okay, after all. What if I’m not going to be happy again, and what if that’s how it should be? is it so inconceivable that my grief won’t heal, because it can’t be healed?

The thought of another 50-60 years of feeling this way is overwhelming. I don’t want to; I can’t. But, spoiler alert, I “couldn’t bear” to lose my baby, and yet, and yet, and yet, I’ve had to bear it. My three bright stars, my poor lost darlings. Oh, my heart.

In the meantime, my husband and I are left alone with our grief. We are now, it feels like officially, the sad childless parents who have to pretend to be okay. Everyone has moved on, while we try to fake it ’til we make it. Spoiler alert: I don’t think I’m gonna make it. I think I’ll always feel this way. I guess I just need to be okay with that.

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