My Facebook status last New Year’s Eve:
“Woke up to the birds chirping outside my window, now the sun is out after 2 weeks of rain. This year was the worst year of my life but it’s taught me so many things. What I choose to take from it I want to share with all of you…the ones that have seen me at my worst and lifted me up from the darkest place: I know there is something better waiting for us at the end of this life. We are destined for certain things & we make choices on others. But this isn’t it, something more… awaits us…I know this because my baby’s given me so many signs & because I can feel her spirit around me, specially today. This is what keeps us going. So just remember that no matter how dark it gets, look for the light…and don’t forget to enjoy the sun after the rain. Wishing you all a healthy happy new year. Don’t be afraid to love & live passionately. We are just visitors here, passing through. Love you all 💜💜“
Today New Year’s Eve 2016, many are saying this has been the worst year. But to a grieving parent no year can compare to when they lost their precious child. For me, 2015 will always be the worst.
Much of what I wrote then remains true.
Now in our second year- I still believe there is something greater, because she still sends us signs…in a quieter, peaceful, more subtle kind of way. But especially when we need it the most.
We still feel her beautiful spirit around us, because we include her in almost everything that we do. Every birthday, holiday & each milestone; she is there guiding us every step of the way. We keep her alive in our memory, in our hearts & in every breath we take.
This helps keep us alive, in that way too.
But what is different & more difficult in the second year…is accepting that all this has to be enough. That her memory & spirit alone will have to be enough to sustain us.
Not just today or tomorrow, but for the rest of our lives.
Because the longing & the missing take over in the second year. Longing to turn back time, to have her back in our arms. Missing her to the point of madness. So desperately missing her. Her hugs, her voice, her laughter, her smile…
And being able to do nothing about it, but rely on memory alone. A picture, a video or a dream to bring her back to us; just momentarily.
In the beginning I was told by a couple of bereaved moms that the second year would be worse. I refused to believe it. How? I thought. It already seemed unlikely that we would survive even the first year. ..
How could it possibly get any worse?
Maybe not worse- just different. The pain transformed.
One reason is: acceptance. The process itself; excruciating.
First, to have to accept the loss of our beautiful daughter. Second, to accept the amount of unbearable pain that comes with it. Third, coming to terms with the realization that it’s never going away.
That it’s made a permanent home in the very core of our being.
By accepting it, we also have to learn how to live with it.
Not just to exist. But to really learn how to live with it.
In this totally different world. Being a totally different person. Living a life we never asked for.
It’s like being reborn & having to start all over. Slowly learning how to walk & talk again. First minute by minute, then hour by hour, day by day. Still now…day by day.
It’s hard to learn how to walk again when you have those big crashing waves of grief knocking you down over & over again. Destroying anything you thought you built in way of protection.
These waves come easily & fiercely in the second year, as in the first. Triggered by the slightest thing; a memory, a vision, a song…a smell.
You may learn to swim a little better each time. You even learn how to float.
Because “The pain doesn’t lessen over time. We just learn how to carry it.”
The carrying. The crashing. The rebuilding.
It all gets so exhausting at times, all you can do is float.
It a bit lonelier now too.
By now, many expect us to be back to “normal”. Eager for us to get through it…some maybe even wanting us to get over it.
Some people move on. Some forget.
Some of our loved ones want things back to the way they used to be, to have us back the way we used to be. We do too.
But what they don’t understand is that we lost a child. Not a home, a job, or a car… not even a limb, but so so much worse.
We lost a daughter & a sister. Our beautiful precious baby girl. We mourn the past, the present & our future without her. Things will never go back to the way they used to be. We will never again go back to the way we used to be.
If we have to accept her passing, why can’t they accept our grieving?
Still & worse…in the second year.
It seems that patience & compassion is lost with the grieving after some time. But barely long enough.
Society is no exception. They don’t want to hear about our misery either. They give time limits. They medicate. They advise prayer & meditation. But if none of that works…you’re on your own too.
So I’ve learned to just smile & say everything is ok. Even to those who truly want to help but don’t know how.
Because when they ask, I don’t know what to tell them. Maybe it’s enough to know they’re still there, if we need them.
These strong, loving & loyal ones. The ones that still stand by our side, holding our hands. The only ones that really matter.
Where there is bad, there is also good.
The good that I’ve learned this second year, is that there is no expiration date on grief…because there is no expiration date on love. That “grief is just an extension of love.” So if we talk about her, remember her & cry for her…it’s not because we haven’t accepted she’s gone. It’s because we have.
And that is not something to be ashamed by or feel sorry for.
Love is the most beautiful amazing gift we can give & receive in return. It has provided us with this remarkable strength we are so thankful for.
We will continue to use it to hold each other up & to try to live in her honor.
In this second year- love still wins.
She may be gone from this Earth, but never from our my minds, never from our hearts.
**note** this post was written after a comment I overheard someone making about “how much longer will it take?” (referencing to our continued grief for Hailey)
The answer is: it will take as long as it takes. Maybe never…because grief = love. And we will love her forever.
Besides. This is only the second year.