As I live with my grief day to day, month to month, year to year, I realize more and more what “they” say is true. Grief is not a destination. It is a journey that changes daily, and just when you think you have it figured out, it changes on you.
It’s been a little less than four years since my husband and I said our goodbyes to our daughter Ilana. That first year, there were more tears than I have cried in my entire life. There was more heartache than one should endure in a lifetime. There was sadness, darkness. I was numb and at the same time I wanted the pain on the inside to have a match on the outside. I was never at risk for hurting myself. I just couldn’t understand how there could be so much pain and not even a scratch to account for it.
The second and third year I learned to contain my grief. My smile returned, my soul seemed to lighten. Day one after losing Ilana, I knew I had a reason to smile. We had another daughter, a surviving twin. Her name is Goldie and together with her little sisters Mona, born 19 months later, and Risa, born 3 1/2 years later, she lit a fire in me, and the cold, dark cave my heart had become seemed to warm some.
Since our daughters were born, I’ve smiled more than I have in my entire life. I’ve felt more joy and happiness than I ever thought motherhood could bring. But I worry that my husband and daughters are the only thing that sustain me now. Between the laughter and smiles, between the sweet kisses from our girls and the affectionate touches from my husband, the gloom can be quick to set in. Songs on the radio easily make me nostalgic for something different. Everything besides my family can at times just feel like too much to take on.
My grief has changed. It used to be a constant tear falling from my eye or a sharp twist in my chest. Now I am adjusting to a constant melancholy.
And I am sure that once I tackle this, it will be something else because she is not coming back. There is no end to this grief.
Other moms, who have lost a child: how has your grief changed? As always, if your grief feels overwhelming, immediately seek the help of a professional or a support group like The Compassionate Friends. —Julie