Thursday, November 21, 2013

Three Things about Grief

If birthmothering is your first grief experience, I'm sorry. I'm sad for anyone who grieves. And although loss is a part of living, the way we grieve and experience grief is as different as our DNA. By the time my dad died 10 years ago, I had already been grieving the loss of my firstborn daughter to adoption for about 17 years. Although losing my dad was different in many ways, caring for myself as I was grieving and knowing what to expect remained the same.

First of all, you never know when or where grief will strike. Sure, you can learn your triggers and protect yourself that way. But sometimes when the stars, hormones, and memories align in just the right way, a tidal wave can hit you out of seemingly nowhere. It's important for you to recognize when that is happening and take immediate action. Delaying grief only makes it worse. As soon as you can, get alone and get it out.

Second, grief is like an onion. Yes, onions are stinky as is grief. But there's a little more to it. Onions have layers (remember Shrek?) as you slice through them. Each layer can differ from the others in thickness and odor. Now apply this to your particular situation for a moment. Yes I know it's crazy, but really.

Here's an example from my own birthmom journey. There were years that Katie's birthday came and went and I hardly noticed. Summer ran into fall ran into winter and so on. Suddenly it was spring, and her March birthday had come and gone. But then there were other years when the grief was so heavy in December that I could barely make it through the holidays much less hold on until March. It is still amazing to me that her 17th birthday was the hardest one I had experienced up until that point and I had been practicing for 16 years!

Anyway, my point is that grief is a continual journey and while today may be good, tomorrow may be a totally different story.

Finally, we can only grieve up to the developmental stage we are at. For example, I grieved Katie the best I knew how at 20 and 25 and so on and was at a what I thought was a 'good place'. But when I started having my own children, it was a whole new ballgame. Even though she was already 18, taking care of a newborn for the first time really shed light on all I had missed as her mommy.

Just yesterday the grief of losing my daddy hit me anew. It was a rough afternoon of remembering and crying and journaling. But at the end, I felt like I could breathe again. Is it okay? No. Not yet. But I continue moving forward finding comfort in my routine and taking time to remember as needed.

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