“They” say that grief comes in waves.
And I’ve found this to be true—for myself.
When I think of times in my life where I’ve felt profound grief, losing three children to miscarriage sits atop the list.
The grief I felt during the years Drew and I were trying to conceive our first child—losing two children along the way—and then losing another one again after we’d already had our two girls, was truly incomparable.
First, there was the grief that took place in the weeks immediately following learning that I’d lost the babies. This grief consumed what felt like every minute of every day, making my heart ache so sharply that I felt like it might shatter in my chest, and underscoring the unfairness of life as seemingly everyone around me conceived and gave birth to healthy children—continuing on with their daily lives.
The reality of the Earth continuing to spin—of everyone else going about their business— while you lay in a darkened room, curled in a ball, imploring the Universe to please-just-please-oh-please-God make it stop hurting, seems especially cruel.
After all, how can life go on when life has just ended?
As time went on after the miscarriages, and my body healed, the physical and emotional pain became less acute—the searing pangs of grief were mostly replaced with the heavy, dull ache of loss. My empty womb and empty arms felt more distinct, but I regained the ability to breathe—however shallowly—and to participate in life—however minimally—again.
I would get out of bed in the morning. Maybe even shower. Put on CLOTHES. Try to eat something. Even—if I was feeling especially brave—go to work or run an errand.
A wave would hit, and all of a sudden, I’d be drenched in grief again so deeply that I felt as if I were drowning.
One such wave hit me during a team meeting at work a few weeks after I’d lost LJ, our first baby. I’d been out of the office for almost a month because my OB did not want to perform a D&C, and the physical portion of the miscarriage was long and severe. When I was finally able to return to work, I was struck with utter anguish at how everything had continued moving forward while I was out.
“Business as usual.”
And nobody seemed to care that I’d spent the last month in hell.
It wasn’t quite that bad, of course. People were quiet around me, which at first I assumed to be indifference in regard to my own personal tragedy, but, in fact, nobody knew what to say. In the team meeting, one of my male co-workers was finally brave enough to look me straight in the eye and tell me he was sorry for my loss.
As much as the previous silence hurt, the acknowledgement of my grief—of what I’d been through— knocked me back into the cold, turbulent waves. Flailing and gasping for air, the tears spilled forth, and it was all I could do just to nod back at him, stumble out of my chair, grab my laptop and phone, and wobble my way out of the room before I began to full-out sob.
You’re never prepared for the waves of grief.
As much as you psyche yourself up, or try to push your grief out of your mind—perhaps try to distract yourself with other activities or work—the waves can hit at any time, and often at the most inopportune times.
Here and now, we are still processing the loss of my father-in-law Don.
Even though we knew this last time that he would not recover, there is truly no way to prepare yourself for the death of someone so close to you.
I had been wondering if it’d be different. If, because we knew that Don was under hospice care and his time left on this Earth was limited, that his passing would be somehow less…shocking? Heart-wrenching?
I don’t know what I thought, exactly.
But I was wrong.
Watching someone slowly die is excruciating. The sharp pangs of hurt you experience over and over again are perhaps even worse, because you want so badly remove his or her pain and suffering.
On the last day of Don’s life, Friday, October 3rd, Drew raced down to be by his Dad’s side with his Mom and sisters. When he finally called me late that night after his father’s heart stopped beating—even though I knew that day was likely his last—I felt the same shock and heartbreak of any of the sudden losses I’d ever experienced.
And more waves will keep hitting you—out of nowhere—for a very long time.
“They” say grief comes in waves. I really can’t think of any better description.
We love you, Papa. We’ll miss you forever.
Thank you, everyone, for keeping Don and the family in your thoughts and prayers over the past few weeks. We have felt the love and warmth being sent our way. We appreciate it all more than you know.