Did you ever notice that when you feel good about yourself, and if you are reading this because you can relate to grief, have you noticed that when you think you are getting somewhere and doing ‘well’ with your grief, that something (or someone) always seems to burst that bubble so to speak. Sometimes, for me, it is a song, a memory, a picture, a card. Other times, in regards to the ‘someones’ I mentioned, it’s being told to your face or to someone else, that they are worried about you, that you need to move on, that you should consider getting help. There’s nothing like comments like this to make you question yourself, your motives, even your sanity. Having the confidence in yourself to know that you are where YOU want to be, doing what YOU want to be doing…well that isn’t always easy. Nor is expressing that to others.
For me, although I know I have moments of very intense sadness, I also know that I live with a certain amount of Joy and Hope from the knowledge that I have a son living in Heaven. I find peace in that most of the time. It doesn’t mean I don’t miss him or that I don’t have horribly crappy moments. But for the most part I am not crying each day or spending time living in the past and wishing he was here. I do talk about him a lot, I do mention what happened to others, I do talk about Cameron being a twin to many people. I spend a lot of time chatting with other TTTS moms, reading blogs and offering advice. I try to be a support person for those who need it…I try to be there for others the way a few moms who I met online while still pregnant with the boys were there for me but moreover I try to be there for the many families who need support in a way that I, most often, couldn’t find when I was pregnant….if that makes any sense. Those are the ways I cope, those are the things I do to find Hope. I really do feel a strong pull to be a part of this TTTS world, for others, for me and for Cole. My husband said that he thought maybe I was afraid I would forget Cole. I don't think that is true but I think I do feel like others will. Perhaps by seeing the good that can come of this kind of loss, others will find Hope as well. I don't know...I do it because it feels right!!!
Grief is a tricky thing, especially when it comes to the loss of a child. Parents were not put on this earth to bury their kids because along with burying those sweet children they are burying their dreams. You have such hopes and aspirations for your kids from the moment you know of their existence. You can’t just turn those emotions off and you can’t just move on…well not at the pace that some think you should.
I am certain that many people are further ahead in their grief process after two years than I am but there are also a great deal who aren’t. I am sure, though, that it is so hard for our friends and family to see us hurting almost and I know that they have the best of intentions. In dealing with the feelings I have had lately about the coments made about my grieving process I have, once again, done some internet searching and found this article. It is very long and filled with great insight into the loss of a child. I have cut some of the article out but I encourage everyone reading this to connect to the highlighted link and see if you can’t help yourself to understand your grief or the grief of a loved one just a little bit better.
It is frequently said that the grief of bereaved parents is the most intense grief known. When a child dies, parents feel that a part of them has died, that a vital and core part of them has been ripped away. Bereaved parents indeed do feel that the death of their child is "the ultimate deprivation" (Arnold and Gemma 1994, 40). The grief caused by their child's death is not only painful but profoundly disorienting-children are not supposed to die. These parents are forced to confront an extremely painful and stressful paradox; they are faced with a situation in which they must deal both with the grief caused by their child's death and with their inherent need to continue to live their own lives as fully as possible. Thus, bereaved parents must deal with the contradictory burden of wanting to be free of this overwhelming pain and yet needing it as a reminder of the child who died.
Bereaved parents continue to be parents of the child who died. They will always feel the empty place in their hearts caused by the child's death; they were, and always will be, the loving father and mother of that child. Yet, these parents have to accept that they will never be able to live their lives with or share their love openly with the child. So they must find ways to hold on to the memories.
Grieving parents say that their grief is a lifelong process, a long and painful process..."a process in which [they] try to take and keep some meaning from the loss and life without the [child]" (Arnold and Gemma 1983, 57). After a child's death, parents embark on a long, sad journey that can be very frightening and extremely lonely- a journey that never really ends. The hope and desire that healing will come eventually is an intense and persistent one for grieving parents.
The child who died is considered a gift to the parents and family, and they are forced to give up that gift. Yet, as parents, they also strive to let their child's life, no matter how short, be seen as a gift to others. These parents seek to find ways to continue to love, honor, and value the lives of their children and continue to make the child's presence known and felt in the lives of family and friends. Bereaved parents often try to live their lives more fully and generously because of this painful experience.
To those outside the family, the composition of the family may seem to change when a child dies. A sibling may become an only child; a younger child may become the oldest or the only child; the middle child may no longer have that title; or the parents may never be able to, or perhaps may choose not to, have another child. Nonetheless, the birth order of the child who died is fixed permanently in the minds and hearts of the parents. Nothing can change the fact that this child is considered a part of the family forever, and the void in the family constellation created by the child's death also remains forever.
All newly bereaved parents must find ways to get through, not over, their grief-to go on with their lives. Each is forced to continue life's journey in an individual manner
• Typical parental reactions to a child's death often involve emotional and physical symptoms such as inability to sleep or a desire to sleep all the time, mood swings, exhaustion, extreme anxiety, headaches, or inability to concentrate. Grieving parents experience emotional and physical peaks and valleys. They may think life finally seems on an even keel and that they are learning to cope when periods of intense sadness overwhelm them, perhaps with even more force. (Experiencing any or all of these reactions does not mean permanent loss of control or inability to recover and are usually part of the grief process.)
• Each bereaved parent must be allowed to mourn in his/her own way and time frame. Each person's grief is unique, even that of family members facing the same loss. Bereaved parents shouldn't expect or try to follow a specific or prescribed pattern for grief or worry if they seem out of synchrony with their partner or other grieving parents.
• Bereaved parents need to know that others may minimize or misunderstand their grief. Many don't understand the power, depth, intensity, or duration of parental grief, especially after the death of a very young child. In some instances, bereaved parents are even ignored because some individuals are not able to deal with the tragedy. They find the thought of a child's death too hard, too Inexplicable, or too threatening. Many simply don't know what to say or do and so don't say or do anything.
Most grieving parents also experience considerable pain on special occasions, such as birthdays, holidays, or the anniversary of the child's death. Parents will need to find ways to cope with these events and should do what feels right for them, not what others think they should do.
Grief is the natural response to any loss. Parents need to be reminded how important it is to process all feelings, thoughts, and emotions in resolving grief. Bereaved parents must look within and be prepared to deal with the past and present. They need to talk about their loss, and the loss must be acknowledged by others. They need to tell others about what happened to their child; they need to talk out and through their thoughts and feelings from the heart, not just from the head. Healing for bereaved parents can begin to occur by acknowledging and sharing their grief.
• Probably the most important step for parents in their grief journey is to allow themselves to heal. Parents need to come to understand that healing doesn't mean forgetting. They need to be good to themselves and absolve themselves from guilt. They should not be afraid to let grief loosen its grip on them when the time comes. Easing away from intense grief may sometimes cause pain, fear, and guilt for a while, but eventually, it usually allows parents to come to a new and more peaceful place in their journey. Allowing grief's place to become a lesser one does not mean abandoning the child who died.