I’m back today to share five more things that I’m in the process of learning since losing Emmett. (See more about the things I’m learning in part one of this series.)
6. The support wanes after a month
About two to three weeks after everything happened, the calls, the texts, the cards and messages just stop coming. For outsiders, the death of a child isn’t their’s. They don’t have to live with that each day of their life. There is a misconception about time (see #8 below) and how long is appropriate to grieve and mourn. The support that comes along with a loss sadly follows that same mold.
For family and friends, please know that your support, compassion, and kind words and actions are going to be needed forever. There are the days ahead (like Emmett’s due date in September, the first anniversary, Mother’s/Father’s Day) that are going to be difficult for years to come.
7. Don’t be so hard on yourself
Being nice to yourself can be hard. I think we’re our own worst critics, at least I am. (See #10 below.) Try to look internally at the things you have been through. You’re a fighter. You’ve been through a lot. You’re so much stronger than you think and braver than you believe. (I think that’s from a Winnie the Pooh book?)
I know that can be difficult to do. I’m trying to practice it myself. But, even if you can just say one nice thing about yourself each day, that’s a start.
8. It takes time
Life is not going to return to what it once was but things will get better. There can be a light at the end of the tunnel. However, it just isn’t going to happen overnight. Grief isn’t a linear process like we all want it to be in this Type A-world of ours. It’s not clean, it’s not pretty. It’s actually quite messy and ugly if you examine it closely. You’ll have ups and downs. Some days you just need to take it minute-by-minute to get through. Others, you can start looking at day-by-day. Then, suddenly, you’re back to just looking at each minute again.
One step ahead, three steps back. It’s kinda like that game Chutes and Ladders that we played as kids. Sometime you may find that ladder to get you to somewhere near “normalcy,” but then other times you hit that slide and you’re back to living those horrible moments over and over again in your mind.
9. Don’t put limits on your grief
One of the reasons I started this blog is because I feel there is such a stigma around talking about death. It’s something that our Western society puts a time limit on. You have 3-5 days to take off for losing a close family member in some jobs. Once that time is over, you’re supposed to get back to work and living your life as nothing has happened, sweep it under the rug. That’s not how it works. (See #8 above)
Grief may not even set in for weeks, months, years after a loss. I’m never going to stop grieving for my son. He’s always going to be with me. I will always remember him, you can’t take that away from me no matter the time that goes by. Eighteen years from now, I’m going to think about him as kids are graduating high school, thinking to myself, “That should be Emmett in that cap and gown.”
10. I didn’t do anything wrong to cause this. It’s not my fault.
This is probably the hardest lesson for me. As much as I know deep in my heart and in the rational parts of my mind, I still want to blame myself for what happened to Emmett. I know I didn’t cause him to have a chromosome issue or to develop a massive cystic hygroma and fetal hydrops. I was pretty darn healthy, according to my doctors. I stopped my medications well enough in advance of getting pregnant. I was eating the right things. I was exercising. I didn’t smoke, drink or do drugs. I was being a model pregnant woman.
But there’s still that teeny part of me that blames myself. I should’ve been able to protect my son. I was his mother and should be able to protect him from all the hurt and the pain of the world, but I couldn’t do that for him. I go over it again and again in my mind and think, “What could I have done differently” that would have him be in my arms?
The answer is….nothing.
There is nothing I could’ve done differently. It’s not my fault. It was just this fluke, random thing that happened. He developed a rare chromosome issue from either the sperm or egg not being right. He just beat the odds and made it into the second trimester where we found out about it. The fact is, most babies who develop what he had, wouldn’t have survived far into the first trimester. He beat the odds. But when it came down to it, his body wasn’t strong enough to fight any further. The hard part is believing that truth and knowing that this wasn’t in my hands and there was nothing I could do to prevent it. It’s just a sad, tragic loss.
I don’t label myself a perfectionist but I don’t like failing. I feel that I failed Emmett. I couldn’t be the mother he needed, the savior he deserved, and that’s hard to live with each day.