Today is Daniel's birthday--I can hardly believe it has been a whole year since he was born and died. The year has been long in some ways, and yet sometimes a wave of sadness will wash over me that is as fresh as it was a year ago. It isn't as debilitating now, but I think about him every day.
I was thinking about what I wanted to write on my blog for his birthday, and I have decided to share a few things I've learned or experienced with grief. I am not an expert, but I know more now than I did a year ago. And maybe something I share can be helpful to someone else.
Those first few weeks and months I found the grief very intense. I would cry all the time and hold his blankets and stay in bed. I was recovering physically, so that didn't help either. I think my kids were really worried about me, they hadn't seen me so sad before. While I was very sad, there was also a very real sense of peace in my heart. I know that Christ's promise that "blessed are they who mourn, they shall be comforted" is very true. Not only did I feel His presence and love very strongly, the people around me acted as his hands and fed, loved and cared for me and my family. I am amazed at how helpful all the kind notes, gifts, and words of encouragement were to me. When someone is grieving, it is best to act, even if it is something seemingly insignificant, all of it is meaningful. "I'm sorry for your loss" works well, if you don't know what to say. Just acknowledging the loss is helpful, I know I felt more comfortable around people that I knew had already heard what had happened.
As the months went by, I started feeling better and getting back into life more. The puppy was a big help in some ways, and a total nightmare in others! But she gets me out of bed every morning and makes me take a walk which is a huge help. But getting back into my old lifestyle was very hard. I have had to work to keep up with the basics of caring for my family, where before I could do that and extras. I got very frustrated with myself and felt very overwhelmed. My grief counselor told me that sometimes it is in the 3-8 months after the loss that things are the hardest. I certainly found that to be true for me. I felt very alone and that life was marching forward without me. Part of me wanted to stay behind and grieve, while part of me was ready to move on.
A few months ago, I started to feel really pretty good--almost back to my old energy levels at times. But then at times, the sadness sweeps in and I feel overwhelmed again. And I get behind and start a cycle of feeling overwhelmed. I have to work extra hard in the times that I feel good to even stay above water.
I learned that it is very important to take some time out and mourn my loss. I learned that grief and mourning are different and that mourning is essential in healing from the grief. It is something I haven't done as well as I should. I have also learned through cancer and this stillbirth experience, that life is so short. So I have a tendency to want to do fun things with my family and over commit myself and just get the very most out of life. But that wears me out more than it used to, and so many simple things have suffered.
Today the sadness hit me harder than I expected it to. We woke up to a snowstorm--great big flakes of white snow. It felt like a little sign somehow that God hadn't forgotten either, and that somehow it will all work out.