The grief process. Sometimes these days, I feel like if I hear one more recommendation about it, I’m going to scream. Medical and mental health professionals alike emphasize the importance of “grieving properly” and “being sure you’re ready” before trying again.
Here are my questions.
How does one “grieve properly?” I wasn’t given any rules. So far, grieving seems to me to be pretty goddamn random. Some days, I am unbelievably sad. Some, incredibly angry. Some days I want to spend the entire day just chanting “I want her back, I want her back, I want her back,” over and over until someone comes and rewrites history for me. I manage to pass for normal, conduct my daily activities, and more or less at the end of the day, I’m okay. I’m surviving. I’m not unhappy, on a daily basis, but there is a giant hole that can not be filled. Maybe it gets smaller over time. I don’t know. Is this “grieving properly?” And who are you or anyone to tell me I’m doing it wrong? I feel like I am coping well. Sometimes, I feel like I talk about my dead baby a little too much, and sometimes, I don’t even when I’m thinking of her, but then I feel a bit like a fraud, so mostly, I just talk about her when I feel like it. It makes everyone else uncomfortable. Am I grieving properly?
And, seriously, how the fuck is anyone supposed to “be sure you’re ready?” I wasn’t even sure I was ready the first time around. It just seemed like I wasn’t ever going to get MORE sure, and I was sure we WANTED to do it, so we did it. Who’s ready, really, ever? And now, when I’m thinking about whether or not I’m ready, that has to include being ready to have another dead baby, being ready to undergo a scary procedure while pregnant, being ready to spend 9 months in virtual stasis as my every movement is feared and monitored, and being ready to cope with the incredible anxiety that comes with all of it, not to mention the grief for my dead child as I try to grow a second which seems sure to make me sad for the first as we hit new milestones.
Really, I’m supposed to be SURE I’m ready to deal with that? I’m kind of figuring that I’m “ready” when I feel like I can probably SURVIVE that, never mind actually dealing with it properly or whatever it is they expect from me.
They have some handy guidelines for how you know you’ve done these things, and they’re annoying. “Waiting 6-12 months” is how you are supposed to know you’ve “grieved properly” and “are sure you’re ready.” I think it’s entirely possibly for neither of these things to be true in 12 months, or 24, or 72. I also think it’s entire possibly for them to be true sooner.
I went to a support group for moms who’ve lost babies this past week. It was really sad, and it was … nice? … to be around other people in the same boat, with the same ghosts, with the same feelings. In a place where you aren’t the only one who makes dead baby jokes, where people even laugh at them occasionally, because really, this is a thing so tragic you have to find the sad comedy. The lessons on grieving though, the suggestions for things to do, I’ve already done those. Been doing them. Does that mean I’m doing okay?
What I really learned there is how lucky I am, how incredibly lucky, ironically. I am in a far better place than many of the women there, some much farther along the path than I am, and I really believe it is because of all of you. My family and friends and the internet communities of people I’ve never even met, who remember Amy, and remember us, and listen to me talk about her, always. Because of you, I don’t have to pretend that this didn’t happen or that it wasn’t awful, and I don’t have to try to figure out some new life where I can fit in now. I still fit right here, right in my life, it’s just different, and in some ways, that in itself is a pretty wonderful thing.
Am I grieving properly? Hell if I know. But I’m doing the best I can, and I think that’s alright.