Monday, December 9, 2013

A Little Piece of Peace

Before I had lost a child I took peace for granted.  I took those good times where your mind is, for the most part, free of burdens.  Times when you just feel content. Times when the world seems to be on an even line and you aren't falling off of it.  Times when we are relatively free of pain and feel calm and perhaps even fulfilled.  We can take deep breaths and reflect on the blessings in our lives.
But after you lose a child you feel shattered.  Nothing seems right, nothing seems fair.  You often feel like you are falling as well as failing. You are constantly looking for answers as to why this happened to your child.  'What did I do wrong?  Where do I go from here?'.  Your innocence and naivity has been stolen.  Nothing will EVER be the same again.
Sometimes, ok very often in the first year to two, and occaisionally now I wish for the old me.  I wish for the life I had before.  Before I knew this pain. Before I questioned everything.  Before I had so many doubts about life.  And I wondered if I would ever feel peace again.  Would I ever have moments where I didn't think of Cole with a heartwrenching ache?
The answer, for me, is yes. Yes I do and hopefully if you are reading this and thinking the same thing you will believe me when I say 'yes you will too'. There are many secrets to this that I wish weren't so secret, that I wish others had shared with me.
One of the keys to feeling peace again is understand that you will never be the person you were before...and that's ok.  It's ok to not be innocent, it's ok to not be carefree.  It's not ok to beat yourself up when you do let a ray of light into your darkness.  Expecting to feel like you used to feel will just set you up for failure...and for feeling like a failure.  It is guaranteed to make you feel like you have fallen into a pit of despair, into a darkness that has no light.  Expecting to return to the person you were before is holding you back from becoming the person that this journey in your life. Does this mean you can never feel joy again?  Does it mean you will never be at peace again? By no means.  It just mean that you have to find a new way to find this peace.
Some things that I have learned that help is to hold on to the moments when you do feel peace. When you feel even a glimmer of hope, of joy, of happiness grab ahold and don't let it go until you have appreciated it for what it is...a moment, even briefly, where you didn't feel like you were falling off the world. Peace comes in pieces, in moments.  It may not last like it used to but you have to celebrate it when it is there. 
Understand and even appreciate that we, as bereaved parents, know that peace is no longer simple and innocent.   We have experienced suffering, we have experienced devastation.  We understand it first hand and we see life so much differently because of it.  We used to take for granted those little moments that made us smile, those times when all was quiet and beautiful and we thought of peace as being the times in our life when all seemed 'right', when all was going our way.  Revel in those little moments now, appreciate them for what they are..a simple kind of peace that comes from inside ourselves and is very powerful.
Let it out and find a way to release the feelings, the stress, the tension.  Loss is all consuming and you need to find a way to self comfort.  Perhaps that comes in walking on the beach, watching a sunset, reading a good book, running or working out, creating artwork...anything that can help you release some of the tension that your body is holding onto is a must.  It's called cultivating inner peace and is a very proactive way of dealing with the inner storms of grief.
Be patient and gentle with yourself...and with others too.  You aren't going to bounce back, your world has been shattered beyond belief and picking up the pieces takes time.  And no one should expect this to happen over night or even in a short period of time...but some will.  People don't understand until they have been there and, although it's hard to cut them slack, you will find it much easier to deal with them if you remember how thankful you are that they can't relate to your pain.  You can try to explain but don't expect them to 'get it'.  Find people who do get it and vent to them on the bad days. 
And along those lines, expect set backs. Expect things to set you off... birthdays, celebrations, milestones, anniversaries...those are obvious but expect things like pictures, songs, smells, people and even places to send you backwards at time.  Don't push it away, don't hate yourself for going backwards.  Remember that finding peace also means coping with these reminders.  I also like to think those reminders are the times that those we love and miss are telling us they love and miss us too.
Forgiving is a very, very big part of finding peace.  I had one particular person that I was so very angry with when we lost Cole.  At the suggestion of a counselor, I wrote him a bit of a nasty letter and never mailed it.  She suggested doing this as by hanging on to unforgiveness you really can't move forward.  Though I felt better after the letter, I realized months and maybe even years later that I still held unforgiveness in my heart towards him.  When I finally let go of it I was amazed at how much peace I felt. 
Count your blessings and don't feel guilty when you do. You can feel sad and happy at the same's ok.  It's ok to feel sad but also to appreciate the things in your life that really are an amazing blessing.  I think this is especially true and so very important when you have lost one of your twins or multiples.  Those survivors really are a blessing and just because you miss their twin doesn't mean you don't appreciate that...and vice versa too. 
Allow yourself to laugh again, even if it's in a dark humour sort of way.  Find the things that make you laugh out loud and do them...often! 
To allow silliness, lightheartedness and the space for laughter is to allow a natural, healing process that leads to peacefulness.
Above  Don't stop doing things that you enjoy, don't stop living.  Each step you take forward is a step towards peace.  Going backwards once in awhile is going to happen but don't ever stop living. 

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