It’s been almost 5 months since we lost our baby boy at 15 weeks pregnant. When I say these past 5 months have been the hardest months of my life, I’m in no way exaggerating. I have never felt this type of intense grief in my life.
My husband and I have had 2 previous pregnancy losses. I grieved over our babies during that time. But this time has been completely different. This time I was further along. This time I had to deliver my baby. This time I got to hold our baby. And this time I had to let him go. It was heartbreaking, soul crushing, and traumatizing all at the same time.
Not only have I been grieving, but did anyone know that grief can trigger anxiety too? I didn’t! Suddenly I was having all of these intense feelings and worries.
Were my girls going to die too? Was something tragic going to happen to my husband on his way to work? Was I going to die? Suddenly, I felt OUT OF CONTROL! I couldn’t handle all of these thoughts and worries on top of being in anguish over losing our son. So I decided to take some action in coping with my grief.
My sister in law mentioned that she knew of an organization that offered free counseling and she suggested I reach out to them. Thank God she did. My first session was a bit underwhelming. I was expecting to go in there and speak with a professional who would solve all of my problems. Boy was I disappointed! We chatted a bit, but mostly she just wanted to get to know me and we didn’t really talk about anything that was going to help me after that session.
I told her about the thoughts I had been having about something bad happening to me, my children, or my husband. And she mentioned that was a common anxiety symptom. I thought “Great, I have anxiety. I’m going to need to take medication. And then I’m not going to be able to get off them. And then we won’t be able to start trying again to get pregnant…Well, actually that’s a relief…And then I’ll have to be on them for the rest of my life. And then. And then. And then.”
A little bit later in the session she mentioned something about negative thinking patterns and how sometimes when we have anxiety we can jump to the worst possible outcome of a situation. I laughed and said “Yep. That’s me!” And proceeded to tell her the thoughts I was having after she said the “dooming thoughts” were a common anxiety symptom.
We set up the next session for following week. I left feeling a little anxious because I wanted her to help me feel better. But instead I left feeling more anxious over the possibility of being diagnosed with anxiety. Haha!
But the sessions in the weeks to come brought me comfort and peace. I talked about things I didn’t even know were bothering me. She helped me come up with affirmations I could tell myself when I started feeling anxious. And different things I could try to help me cope with both my grief and anxiety.
I never in my life ever thought I would go to any kind of counseling. I selfishly thought I was too strong minded for that. How naive and prideful of me to think. I am so grateful to God for providing professional counselors with the knowledge of how to help others in their mental health struggles. It is truly a lifesaver in so many ways.
One of the first things I did when I got home from the hospital was lock myself in one of our rooms and write. I needed to get it all out. Every detail, every feeling. I couldn’t keep it pent up inside of me any longer. The trauma was too overwhelming.
And every day, for a few weeks, I would write. I would get all of my emotions out, no matter how ugly. And trust me, it was ugly. I have pages that I reread sometimes and it brings me to tears remembering the agonizing pain I was in that day. I have pages that are short and sweet. Pages that are in all capital letters, taking up a full page because I was screaming and sobbing at the top of my lungs as I was writing them. I have pages of song lyrics. I have pages of praise to God. And I have pages of hate to God. But I have pages. Pages that tell my story. Pages that have helped me heal.
Writing has been my go to for a long while now. I remember being in high school, every day I’d doodle in class. Song lyrics would fill up my pages then. Lyrics that touched my soul so deep I just had to write them down. I still have these pages and I cherish them. I cherish them because they remind me of a time when putting pen to paper helped me to cope with high school angst.
And now, putting pen to paper helps me deal with real life struggles, adult life struggles. Struggles that no parent should ever have to go through. Losing your child struggles.
Writing may not be your thing. But if you are going through a hard time right now and struggling to figure out how best to deal with all of it. Try writing it down. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It doesn’t have to be neat. Just start out with how you are feeling that day. That’s all. I find that writing out my feelings helps me to feel like they are actually validated. And it helps me to process them as well!
I love Harry Potter. Like am obsessed. I’ve read each of the books at least 2 times through and have read some of the books 3 times or more.
I like reading other things too. But man, I love the world J.K. Rowling has created. Each time I read a book again I get something new out of it. I discover a new aspect of a character I love. I remember a favorite part I forgot about. It’s amazing.
If no one has told you yet, grief is exhausting. It’s a kind of tired that my body has never felt before. Sometimes, I just don’t want to think about any of it. Sometimes, I want to give my mind and body a break and escape to a different place. Reading does that for me. I get to escape to a new world for a little bit. A different reality. And I don’t have to deal with all the feelings that are in my reality for that moment. It is a good break for the real world.
You may be a muggle who is like Uncle Vernon and wants nothing to do with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And that is okay. Find whatever universe you want to escape to. Maybe a nice place in the tropics, or the arctic circle, or somewhere in outer space, or maybe its a dystopian society. Wherever it is, I hope it can give your mind and body a much needed break from the overwhelming exhaustive toll grief can have on it.
4. Being Outside
Lastly, I’ve found that my mind longs to be in nature. It’s where I can feel my boy the most. I see him everywhere when I’m outside. In the butterflies that follow me everywhere I go now, in the ladybugs that randomly land on my shoulder more often than they used to. In the bright, beautiful golden colors of the sunsets and sunrises. In the cool breeze that awakens my soul, in the warmth of the sun. In the sun rays that fall through the trees, I love that. And my favorite place, in the starry night sky.
I have two daughters who I stay home with. Our oldest is almost 5 and our youngest just turned 2. I think they’ve loved the past 5 months because we’ve been outside more than I can remember! We’ve spent hours playing at our local parks, playgrounds, our backyard, attending forest school, running on trails, walking in our neighborhood. We’ve just been outside A LOT. And they love it, which is a perk for me because as I’m healing and coping they are playing.
Almost every day, after nap time I will take them outside to play in our backyard until daddy comes home. It’s usually about an hour and a half. During this time I’ll lay out a blanket on our grass and lay down and read a book while they play. They’ve grown used to it now so, I really don’t even have to keep them entertained. They play by themselves or with each other. It’s a nice time for me to unwind and enjoy being outside. Sometimes ill read the whole hour and a half, sometimes ill choose to join them in whatever they are playing, or sometimes ill just look at the clouds while they play. Either way, I have grown to love this time.
You see, being outside doesn’t have to be fancy. You don’t have to go on a nature hike to truly enjoy nature. Sometimes all it takes it sitting back, closing your eyes, and allowing yourself to get lost in your own backyard. Taking in all the sounds around you, feeling the warmth of the sun, or the chill in the breeze. I truly feel like breathing in fresh air has brought healing to my soul.
I hope some of these coping ideas have helped you, I know they have helped me. Ive learned that grief is a lifelong process. There isn’t a moment that my baby boy is lost on my mind. But I’m learning that not all the moments will feel overwhelming and never ending. These coping ideas haven’t helped the grief to go away, but they have helped to make it more bearable and for that, i am grateful.