I'm not exactly shy about my obsession with books. I love to read. It's my favorite hobby besides traveling, traveling gets way expensive while reading can be fairly cheap or even free (Hello, library!!) So, when I find a book that I really love, I have to share it.
Over the weekend I read Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love. Oh my goodness, this book was so amazing! This is the story of Anna, whom I found by way of Momastery last year. Anna lost her 12 year old son, Jack, in a crazy flash flood 3 years ago. Her story is so heart wrenching, but her book is so beautiful.
Now, I can't even compare my loss with hers. Everyone says that you can't "measure" loss, and in some ways that is true, but I struggle with it. Here is a woman who had her son on this earth for 12 whole years. She birthed him and fed him and watched him grow, he had a room and friends, and a personality and...well, my baby died before he was born. If you ask me, her loss is so much greater, 12 years greater actually - so I can measure it. How can I compare losing a child I never met alive to her, who knew and touched and loved her baby for 12 whole years?
But I understand that no matter when you loss your child, the grief part can be frighteningly similar. As I read her book I felt like she was reading my heart. She writes, so beautifully, what I struggle to put into words as a grieving mom.
How we are living in the second reality, I've tried writing about that. Always thinking "Oh right now I'd be a month away from meeting my baby..." or "We would be finished decorating the nursery by now, we would just be waiting for him to come!" When you loss a baby or a child, there is always that second world right over the line, a world that is going on just perfectly how you thought it would, a world without our loss. Sometimes I just let myself do it, I pretend that reality is real. Then I come back to real reality. Ugh.
How grief feels so much like shame. How I "lost" my baby. My body was literally unable to hold him. My body shut down, and he died. And then he was born silent and still. Aren't we, as parents, supposed to do all that we can to keep our children safe? How can I do that when my body won't even cooperate? It's shameful. Does that shame and sadness hang over me? Do people avoid me because of that? I can't say that I wouldn't.
How the early days of grief are the worse days ever. I felt like dying. No, I never ever wanted to harm myself, but I wanted to die. I wanted to be with my baby, however that meant. I wanted God to decide that it was my time to go too - it had to be, right? I can't live on Earth without my baby?! How even going outside is hell. Why is the sun shining? Why are people just driving around? Why do I need to GO get groceries? Groceries are stupid. Shopping is stupid. Those early days are awful. Living felt ridiculous.
How going to church is one of the best and worse things ever. Now, I am personally very weepy during worship - it's always been that way for me. Music does something to my soul and I feel with it, so deeply. Church is always where this is the worse, because the words and the notes are anointed, and I can feel it! But sometimes it happens with a song on the radio. It always happens while seeing a musical - even a happy one. I cry like a baby. Now, with a loss, I am a blubbering mess. Will people see me? What if someone wants to pray for me? I won't ever be able to tell them why I need it! I need to stop crying! But oh it feels so good to cry during worship...
How grief is exhausting. All I wanted to do is sleep. Even still, some days, it would be nice to stay in bed all day. I'm so, so tired. Like I've been climbing this mountain for a very, very long time.
How we can try as hard as we want to keep our children safe, but honestly - its a freaking crock. Why do we feel we need to be in such control? Don't I know I have NO control over whether my child dies or not?!? NONE!!! Why did I stress myself out that whole 5 months - when nothing I could have done or not done would not have changed the outcome? That seems ridiculous. I've seen women smoke and drink and hurt themselves in crazy ways go on to have healthy babies, yet me - the girl who tried to do EVERYTHING right, my baby died. But nonetheless, our love is so great, and we want to protect...but no amount of protecting will save any child of mine if God says it's time. It is HARD to be ok with that. Very hard. I'm not sure I'll ever get used to it.
How it's easy, through our blogs, to share with our friends and our family what we need and how we need it. People are scared and confused when they hear about pregnancy loss, or stillbirth, or child loss. We sometimes don't read about these topics on purpose, because we feel that in some way avoiding it will keep it from happening to them. That seems a little silly and controlling too, like we have a choice in the matter! Oh and I love, love, love how Anna encourages us to handle grievers. Not just our own grief, but the grief of others around us who are dealing with death. Just show up. Drop off dinners. Sit and cry. Send a note. Clean their kitchen. Show up. It's help me understand how to deal with others who are grieving. I used to think I could say something to make it better. I used to think that "time" fixes everything and that talking about that was a good idea. Wrong. Time doesn't fix everything when it comes to loss. Sure, it may get better, but it never gets easy. This is hard, hard work. It's uncomfortable work. For me, but also for you. Grief makes people uncomfortable. Blogging helps that get better, all across the board, we need to talk about it more!
How "dealing with it" when it comes to grief, or "getting over it" when it comes to grief, is a load of sh. Those phrases mean that I am to get over my baby, I am not interested in that. I am interested in working on my grief, unpacking it and understanding it and being curious about it. Grief is work. Grief is defining. Grief is eternal. In ourselves, and in others. Get comfortable.
How people sharing their experiences is one of the best things about this work. Of course, its awful that others go through this, but it helps to sit with people who understand you and are ok with talking about your loss forever, without any expectation that the conversation needs to "move on" to a better topic. Also how others share their experiences with my grief, how we (bereaved parents) have helped others or changed others, or how others have seen things that reminded them of me or Jackson...or seen special signs that may mean Jackson is "talking" to them. It sounds nutty and crazy, but when I am here, and my son is over there, I'll take any signs I can get that all is ok.
How sometimes, sadly, I am less tolerant of others peoples crap. I get annoyed easily sometimes, that their "problems" are easy peasy compared to my problems. It's hard to listen to sometimes because of what I've been through. But is that the worlds fault? No way! Thats on me, and only me, and I need to get over that. I know that a little problem to me, may be the whole world for someone else. I understand that. Sometimes my grief makes me nasty.
How grief helps me define God. God is not this all powerful being that only shows up when I want something superficial. He is an all powerful being that is constantly here with me. Grief is teaching me that in amazing ways! God is here! He helps me through every part of my day. He sees the big picture - and my grief is part of that big picture. Yes, He allowed this to happen to me. But, how selfish am I to think that He doesn't know what He is doing? Anna writes...He wants our worship, but he doesn't need our approval.
How eventually, we get used to the idea that life moves on. Here is where my loss differs so greatly. I do think that grieving time has something to do with loving time. The time you loved someone is calculated into the grief of that person. It's not good math, but I think it could be true. Anna, she was a mother who loved her son for 9 whole months and then 12 whole years after that. Grieving him took her, understandably, a good amount of time. She is still grieving. For me, I am 3 months out from loving that little soul for 5 months, and I am starting to really feel ok. Yes, this sucks, but I am doing well. I have hard days and hard moments, but I am understanding that I have to move forward. It can be excruciating at times, and other times I am totally fine. Am I over Jackson? No. I won't ever be over him! He is my son. But I think I'm on my way to feeling better. I think I can handle this grief that will live in my heart. It lives where Jackson lives.
Grief is repetitive, as I am sure you have learned from reading my posts. I circle around to certain topics over and over. Bear with me on that. I am learning a lot about myself in this grief. While I'd give it all back to have Jackson, it's life changing to go through this process, it's made me become so self-aware and I think I am headed towards learning a lot about gratitude and happiness and choosing joy on purpose. To quote Jack's favorite verse: Luke 1:37 Nothing is impossible with God. Amen to that!
Please read this book. Even if you are not going through a grieving process, someone you know is, or will be, and you will be glad that you read it. It's an easy read, and Anna's beautiful writing will keep you going.
Thanks for listening!