This whole year has felt unreal; I feel like I am just going through the motions of life in a fog. I know a lot of that is grief and I’m sure someday it will feel different, but for now it still feels this way. Around the 6 month mark I started to feel like the fog was lifting, but now at 8 months out, it feels as if it’s starting to get foggy again.
My brain is pretty much mush anymore, I can’t remember anything, and I know that I’m blocking a lot of stuff out. At the end of each day I feel as if I’ve just finished running a mental marathon. I can’t wait until the moment I get to go to sleep for the night because it’s the only time I feel at peace. It feels like a lot of people’s lives have gone back to their “before”, and that’s ok- I don’t expect people to dwell on my sadness. There are people who randomly let me know that they are thinking of Kenley. They will send us something, text me, email me, or just make a gesture in honor of our family.
Those people are amazing.
I do feel, however, that there are people in my life who think I should be better. Maybe they think that I have too many “bad” days. Maybe they think that I have a grim view of certain things still. But, to those people I ask “Can you really blame me?”…
A friend (you know who you are! xo) who lost her beautiful daughter, but can’t really talk about it openly, sent me this last night. I woke up to use the rest room in the middle of the night and I saw it in my email. I smiled, peed and went back to bed. This morning I was able to read it. It is written to a non-bereaved parent in general, but I think that it can apply to family members, or friends who have no children, also. It pretty much applies to everyone. Please take the time to read it. It is the truth of my life now.
Dear Non-bereaved Parent,
I know you care for me and am so glad you’re reading this. I know that you can’t fully comprehend, nor would you want to, what it means to be a bereaved parent. Honestly, I’m still finding out for myself. To live without my child is not something I ever wanted to learn and yet it’s what I have to.
I see that you want me to feel better. Let me assure you, you’re doing the best you can to soothe my pain, yet it is here and will be here… until it lessens. It won’t ever go away completely and this is ok. Can you be ok about it with me?
I hope you will have the courage to remember my child with me until we part. Please remember this: You may speak her name, you may remember her birthday or anniversary with me, whether that is by sending me a text message, card or flowers – it doesn’t matter, it’s the thought that counts.
Please do not fear my tears or my sadness, it means that I’m thinking of her or missing her. It’s not that I am permanently broken or sick, just broken-hearted and grieving. Please have the courage to sit with me and my pain, without needing to fix it.
At times I might say ‘I need some time to myself’ but more often, I do appreciate you being here, even without any words, keeping me company or doing something with me. Other times I might need distraction and I might even laugh and experience some joy and then feel guilty again and cry in the next moment. It’s ok, this is life and death: complex and paradoxical and not always to be understood.
You probably feel that I have changed. You might even hope and wait for me to return to the ‘old me’ again. I’m sorry but that won’t happen. I’m forever changed. Losing a child is like losing a limb. Even though the scars of the amputation will heal, it’s a permanent change and as much as it sucks, it is what is. I have to get used to it. Will you bear the chance to get to know me as your ‘new normal friend’?
I’ve chosen you as my friend because you have a big compassionate heart, yet I know it’s (almost) impossible to understand the unimaginable. Don’t say things like: “Wouldn’t it be time to move on?” or “At least you have…” I know you might say those kind of things in an attempt to support me. I know you’re well-meaning yet I’ve become sensitive and certain sentences are like shards of glass on an already wounded heart. Even if you don’t understand, would you allow your heart to reach out and trust the sensitivity of my broken heart? (For examples on what to say instead, click here.)
I might not be up to celebrating pregnancy news, I might even feel jealous of those lucky mothers who are joyously carrying their children. It’s not that I’m mean, it’s because my heart longs for my child and seeing those mothers with their children is a reminder of what I don’t have.
With time and healing, I will be sad less often or cry less often as at the beginning. This does not mean I’m ‘over it’. My child lives on in my heart and I will never get over the fact that I’m never to hold her hand in life. Please do not confuse my healing with ‘been there, done that’. My child might have gone with the wind, yet I’m still searching the world for signs of its fleeting presence.
Thank you for being here for me and with me.
Thank you for being my friend and having remained my friend through this.
Thank you for creating a new friendship with my ‘new normal’ self even though we wanted everything to remain as it was…
Thank you for remembering my child and therefore honoring me as her mother.
Every day that I wake up, I am sad. I know I have so much to be thankful for, and trust me, I am VERY thankful. I’m thankful for Landon, because I don’t know if I would have been able to pull through this without having to care for him. I’m thankful for Shane because he is my rock, and even though he is incredibly sad as well, he keeps a strong face for me. He is the only one who feels my grief 24/7, and also deals with his own, too. I’m thankful for this new baby girl growing inside of my body. I’m so thankful that we were able to even afford IVF with no insurance coverage. I’m thankful for my doctor who is amazing, and always lets me be neurotic, ask a zillion questions, and roots for us.
I’m thankful to be alive, but that doesn’t mean that somedays I wouldn’t rather not be if it meant I could see Kenley for even 5 seconds again. And I don’t think there are many people in the world who really understand that statement.
I’m trying. Every single day. I wake up, I repeat the cycle of the day, except it’s not how it used to be. I’m a broken Mom, and Wife now. I’m a broken Daughter, Sister, and Friend. My heart is broken, and it effects every part of my life.
And it always will.