I am tired of people either directly saying or implying that 1) it could be worse and 2) I need to accept my reality. My head ‘knows’ these things. But my heart doesn’t. And emotions don’t work that way. I am so grateful that I have Eli. He gets me out of bed in the mornings. He makes me genuinely smile, and even laugh. But as we explained to Eli when we thought we were bringing home a live baby, love does not exist in finite amounts. Loving Sidney, we told Eli, would not mean we would love him any less. So why is it so hard for people to understand that deeply grieving Sidney’s death doesn’t mean that I don’t love Eli enough or appreciate him enough? It just means that I love(d) both my sons, and my heart is broken because one of them is dead. Grieving Sidney does not mean that I don’t get that I have other things, a loving husband, a safe home, a level of material comfort. I can walk, I am not in fear for my life, I have opportunities. But Sidney’s death hurts me in a way I have never been hurt before, and I can’t just bounce back from it. I am trying to heal, but I am feeling a lot of pressure–some from myself and some from others. I want to say that I have learned all of these things since Sidney died, that I have become a stronger person, one who really lives in the moment, knowing that with the next, my whole world could come crashing down. But I just feel like I am a weaker, more broken version of my previous self, instead of someone who has all these new insights and a much more profound connection with life. I read a quote that said that in grief, the moments of joy seem that much more joyful. And I am trying to get there–I really am. At night we talk about two things we are grateful for, that we appreciate. But it is getting harder to do this day after day with no clear change.
I have also recently heard from a number of people that I need to accept that I might just have one child, and that that is a lot more than some people have. Again, I know that. I know that some people struggle with infertility issues. I know that some people have tragic losses with their first babies–including some dear wordpress bloggers- instead of with their seconds. I know that some people never find a partner with whom to create the families they want. But ‘knowing’ that doesn’t just make me okay with my situation, with what I have. I am not able to control my mind and emotions in that way. Even the grief counselor basically said to me that I should just tell my mind not to be anxious. And I said, okay, well how do I do that? And she didn’t really have an answer (she never would have asked me to just turn off my grief/sadness, so why she doesn’t get that anxiety similarly can’t just be shut off is a bit beyond me–I’m all for counseling and therapy but why is it so hard to find someone helpful. It makes me feel like a lost cause. I am willing to say that I need help, that I can’t grieve alone, that I am ‘failing’ at grief. But I don’t know how to reach out and get the help I need. Perhaps I will save for another post figuring out what type of counselor I would even ideally want–and would love to hear from others about what a ‘good’ counselor is able to do).
But for my own sake, I do think I need to figure out a way to put my hope in something other than having another baby. I realized that after Sidney died, my mind needed to grasp onto an alternate future plan, and I just kind of created, without even meaning to, a plan that involved me getting pregnant again quickly, eventually resuming my old job full-time and being functional–hence the feeling of just being on hold. Did I want or accept this alternative plan? No. Did I think that I would ever just be okay with another baby a year or so later that wasn’t Sidney? No. But I am realizing I just assumed that it would happen. I somehow need to accept that I cannot plan for these things, that I don’t know what will happen, that I have much less control over everything than I thought. You would think that Sidney’s death would have completely convinced me of this. He died for no clear reason, a death that still does not make sense to me. But I think my mind was in such a state of shock that it does what it knows best, which was try to plan and to have something to hold on to. But it’s not helpful when that ‘plan’ is one that I really can’t do a whole lot about to make come true. So I need something else. And I don’t know what that is yet, or how to come up with something else to give me a hope. And this puts me sliding back down one of those dear grief waves, looking for a ledge, a knob, a hand, something to grab onto, to ground me, to help me climb back up.