You know the thing about grief? You can't read a book about it and then say "oh, well, that's exactly how it's going to be for me." What fits for one person does not match the feelings and thoughts of another. Grief is simply defined as "deep sorrow especially caused from someone's death" There is no perfect description other than this- Grief looks so different at different times and for different people.
Most associate the word "grief" with immediate loss or heartache. When someone is "grieving" it's a heavy sadness. When you a are grieving the loss of a loved one it's heavy and painful and deep. It's been almost 3 years since we had Ella. The first year after we had Ella, I think I grieved very deeply. I felt like I was in a dark place and hurt so much. But now that we are three years out, what is grief? What does it look like? People may think that I am done grieving. That I have "gotten over the loss of Ella" (side note: please don't ever say that to someone who has lost a loved one). I am most certainly not "over" losing her. I do not feel the heavy ring of sadness around my neck like I did but I still grieve. It's not every day and it's not the kind that keeps me in bed all day long. My days are full. They are filled with my family, Shane, three littles running around, making meals, laundry, teaching, and life. We are happy. We love to talk about Ella and often with smiles on our face.
But then there are days... days when Shane and I are talking about plans and events and something comes up about Ella or her birthday and just like that I'm crying. I look at Shane whose eyes are filled and we "know". We get it. We take a second, cry, and then continue our planning. There are days when I am listening to the radio and a song comes on that just hits me and I'm sobbing in the car one minute and then pulling into the store and just like that I'm wiping my eyes and getting the cart and thinking about my shopping list. There are days when I am getting dressed and it hits me so hard and deeply that all I can do is crawl in bed and let it out. Those times usually surprise me. I don't expect them. It's not a specific event or thing always that triggers those feelings. Sadness comes in spurts and can be overpowering one second and slip away the next.
There are times when I feel like I should be sadder. Telling an acquaintance about my family and it comes up that we had a baby who lived for two hours and ..... crickets. The person is so sad and does not know what to say and I smile and say "do you have a pen I can borrow to fill this paper out?" I am not sad to talk about her. I am not sad to tell the events of her birth. I can even say "it was awful and the worst thing ever but we are still here and God is good" and not cry.
And even one time, a bit of a change on grief. I was running an errand... hopped in the car and the radio was on. It was a song we sang at Ella's memorial. I have always, always thought of her when I hear that song and while I love the praise it gives the Lord, I still, most often than not, have to turn it off and have never really been able to sing it. On this day I got in the car and was happy and feeling carefree and light and started humming it and thought to myself... why do I love this song? Oh yes. That's why. My baby. Then there immediate sadness that for a second I forgot- life goes on... just like that....
I wonder what grief looks like years after a heartache like losing a child. I asked this question amongst some baby loss mamas and was encouraged that it's just as I thought. Easy many days, and hard on some. Flowing up quickly they dying down and sometimes long suffering. I am so thankful that the dark clouds of mourning are not still with me. I will never end grieving Ella and the waves of sadness I feel randomly that sometimes surprise me are normal. It kind of changes as years pass. The sadness becomes more for the expectation of what was to be and isn't. A preschool graduation. T-ball. Birthday parties. Siblings giggling.... things that can seem so normal can stop you in your tracks. We expected things to be one way and they most certainly are not what we were wanting. Another friend shared how her child is woven into the tapestry of her life just like her other living children and sometimes one child comes to the forefront more than others, but all of them are always there interlaced among each other. I like that.