Updated: Jul 21, 2019
“STUCK IN GRIEF”
It was said in a statement. Not referencing me or my situation, but of course, I wanted to know more about this idea.
The person didn’t elaborate when asked but it made me wonder – what does it mean to be stuck in grief?
And what do others think of my publicly expressed grief?
Society certainly embraces gratitude, platitudes, and the feel-good vibes, leaving death and grieving to be a taboo subject to approach.
I had so many conflicting and scary, overwhelming emotions after my daughter died. I needed to say them aloud for someone to bear witness to them.
I needed to be told I was or would be ok, and I needed assurance that I wouldn’t forever feel this way.
Talking about my feelings about my daughter’s death and our entire experience were paramount to my healing, but it definitely created rifts in many relationships for some time. I quickly learned which friends and family were safe sounding boards and with whom I needed to create strong boundaries.
I constantly assess and reassess my mental health and seek support when my emotions are too much to carry alone.
When I miss my daughter more intensely, it is healthiest for me to connect with others and share my experience in an effort to alleviate the pain. I may write about it, I may call or text a friend, and I allow myself to feel all the emotions.
But does that mean I am stuck? Is it unhealthy to revisit that time, those days, and the hard, complicated emotions from my daughter’s life and death?
I don’t think I am stuck. I think I am emotionally healthy.
I honor my daughter in many ways that feel most comforting to me; releasing ladybugs, writing books, public speaking, educating health professionals, and most importantly, living presently in my life.
Others create rituals and creative outlets that comfort them best and I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to demonstrate love for someone who has died.
As a bereaved parent, grief is more complicated because of the out of order death we have faced. My mind often has to remind me that yes, in fact, my daughter died, that actually happened because it is still so unbelievable.
My heart and soul feel the aching loss deeply and regularly, but the logical part of my brain has a harder time assimilating that reality into my life. It’s not normal for a child to die before their parents and is a tremendously hard concept to accept.
I don’t know that my heart will ever fully understand this loss.
“It has been said that you die twice, the first time is when the breath leaves your body and the second when your name is no longer spoken.” (Unknown)
In speaking my daughter’s name, I keep her spirit, her love, and her energy alive and it is my honour to do so.
I live a life full of life and even though my love for my daughter and subsequent grief are externally expressed, that does not mean I am stuck.
Instead, I think it means I am well-rounded and normalizing grief for others.