Many parents descirbe a time anywhere from 4-7 months when they report feeling as bad, or worse, than right after the baby died. Some think they are gong crazy, as if they were climbing the mountain of grief and healing, but slipped back into the valley of pain. How can this be they wonder? Some seek a counselor, others revert back to bed, couples can end up in lots of stress around this time, and the family, friends, and workplace can become really worried.
Parents report this consistently. It is a very natural response to have and once you know, it probably wont' surprise you.
Why is this so common? The cards have stopped coming, the donated food in the refrigerator is gone, life seems to be moving on for everyone else, and the shock is beginning to subside a bit. You may feel that others have forgotten. And truth be told, most are back on their life journey and do not think much about your baby or that you still may be suffering. What do you do now?
This is the time that many people find it important to reach out to others - online, community support groups, at church or synagogue, counselors, other parents/grandparents who have been through this. Of course, this makes sense. Though the rest of the world may move on, it is hard for you to do so. You may find that your partner may be moving forward sooner than you and this can complicate things - when you are on different tracks. Your grief journey is bringing you to a different place where hopefully you will find your 'new normal' but you'll never quite be the person you were before. Please keep in mind, even though you may not be that same person, it does not mean you are less than or not as good as before. It just means you are a different version of your old self. In time, maybe you will find some of the gifts that often come changing you in a positive way. But right now even hearing that can be upsetting.
Why do we change so much after such a loss? First of all, we lose our innocence and that loss is hard to accept. Also, remember that your little one was loved so much by you that not having them in your life changes you and hurts very much. It does not have to all be dark and bad and sad every minute and every day from here on out. In fact, you may find in time that you view relationships differently, that you notice small and large beautiful things like butterflies and sunsets, flowers and rainbows, people smiling at you and being blessed by others' kindnesses. Allow yourself to be changed when you are ready for that (only you will decide this). Someday you may find peace and see these as gifts. Gifts of love.
Trust your instincts. Find ways to move the pain from inside to the outside if you are able. Write, pray, play, love, take baths and long walks, count your blessings when you can.
One simple idea is to get or make a 'grateful jar'. We have begun to create some beautiful ones in our eShop. Put your messages and lists of gratefulness in when you feel them. Then on those challenging and down days take some out to remind yourself that a better moment or day will come again.
Some counselors suggest that you 'make an appointment' with your grief. Pick a time that you will prepare your space and your mind to intentionally grieve. Do it fully; jump in with both feet. If you set aside an hour or two for this, then use the whole time. When that predetermined time is up, put your things away and take a break from your grief.
Believe you can do this. Find your 'go to' people and go to them. Be as positive as you can, don't harm yourself or others. Seek out the resources. Find ways to bring light into your day and your heart.
You can do this!