“Maybe their sorrow over two children that never came should have brought them closer. But sorrow is unreliable in that way. When people don’t share it there’s a good chance that it will drive them apart instead.” -Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove
The second night after Aria left this world, I laid in my hospital bed with tears streaming down my cheeks, my freshly shattered heart filled my chest with an indescribable pain, and I thought for sure it was all over. It felt like I had been sentenced to a hopeless life of suffering separated from my sweet, beautiful daughter. I felt more pain than I ever realized a human could bear. It wasn’t even purely emotional, I could feel my spirit breaking within my body. Every inch of me ached with sorrow.
If you had given me the chance to leave it all behind and join my daughter in heaven, in that moment, I probably would have accepted it. In fact, I’m quite certain I told my husband, Brian this many times that night.
Truthfully, the only thing that tethered me back to earth was the sight of him. Brian had been doing so well at consoling me, but as my heartache reached new heights it was all becoming too much. Frustration was transforming into rage, and it was beginning to bubble up inside him as he watched me fall apart. For him, handling his own pain was something he felt capable of, but watching me hurt was not something he felt equipped to handle. He had just lost his daughter, and now he was losing the habitually optimistic woman he had loved for nine years. And there was nothing he could do. He was furious that this was not something he could fix. He’s always taken pride in being able to take care of me and fix my problems, but now he felt totally helpless. It was killing him.
As hard as that moment was for the both of us, and as weird as it is to say, I am thankful for it.
Seeing him so broken pulled me back from the ledge I was on, and made me feel a sense of purpose – something I thought I had lost when my daughter passed away. I had to shove my pain away momentarily so I could focus on loving him. We ebbed and flowed like that for a long time. I would break and he would carry me, then it would become too much for him. Then I would scoop him up, and bear the weight for a moment. That cycle repeated over and over again.
This is why I am thankful for shared grief. If we hid our feelings from each other, we both would reach the edges of despair without anyone to pull us back. We need people to know where we are with grief so they can keep us going.
Most often, that is something done between my husband and I. But through this blog, and the huge social media community of grieving parents, I often feel that encouragement coming from all of you. Most of the time, it isn’t as heavy as this. Usually, it comes in the form of reminders that my feelings are valid, or to not feel so guilty about smiling again.
When we feel connected to a community of others who are grieving our loss alongside us we feel supported, loved, understood and purposeful. But without it, grief can be such an isolating and hopeless place.
So that is why I share my grief with all of you. Being this open keeps the light of hope nearby. I want to encourage you to share your grief as well. You don’t have to be as public as I am. Even if you are only comfortable sharing privately with a counselor at this point, share it. It is not a journey meant to be walked alone.