What’s a Grief Burst?

I was searching the house yesterday for a frame for another photo when I came across this picture below:


I found myself on the floor, crying uncontrollably. Why would a cute picture of Winnie the Pooh, Kanga and Roo have me so emotional?

This was a picture my in-laws gave to us for Emmett’s nursery. The Pooh Bear themed nursery that we never completed. I had completely forgotten they had given this to us and it just brought all of these emotions to the surface. My legs were weak and my eyes fuzzy.

We were supposed to paint the walls a light green. We were going to get decals of the Hundred Acre Wood gang to go near the crib. A fun-themed growth chart that looked like Pooh’s tree to watch our baby grow through the years. We already had a heffalump toy for baby to play with.

It just became to much to handle and the tears started to flow. I’ve learned to just let them happen. The chaotic breathing. The wet sleeves and drippy nose. The swollen eyes and fogged up glasses.

I never heard the term “grief burst” until I attended a support group meeting for parents going through loss. So, what is it?

What I experienced is a grief burst. A sudden wave of emotions and grief that can hit at any time. Some of my bursts are caused by triggers I know and can avoid…like no shopping at Buy Buy Baby or Babies ‘R Us for awhile. Avoiding sappy diaper and Hallmark commercials. Most Pixar movies, including “Up”, are off the table for the foreseeable future.

In the beginning, immediately after losing Emmett, those grief bursts could last hours and I felt like that’s how most of my days were spent. Then, they started to get better. They’d shorten up or I could maybe go a few days without having one. But out of nowhere, it’s like I fall off the proverbial wagon, and I’m back to crying every day or every moment.

I’ve learned to take the moments as they come. I still can’t plan too much into the future, not knowing what mindset I’ll be in on any given day. But, I try. I’m trying my best to find out what this new normal is, including living through all of those ugly painful emotions. Without those emotions, I think I’d be a shell of myself. It’s hard to meet this new me. She’s moody and short-fused but she’s also real and true.

Trying to simmer down a grief burst is like trying to prevent an already overflowed pot of boiling water from scalding you. It’s painful and will drench you in all that it is. The pain lingers for a bit. At first it’s painful and oozing, but as time goes on that burn starts to heal. You can start to expose it again but you have to be careful. You don’t want to expose it to too much, too soon. It will take time for that burn to fully heal.

It will leave a scar on you, just like that grief from the loss of a child can. You’ll forever have that memory, that scar on your heart but as time goes on, you begin to heal and can experience more of the things that were once painful to you.

I know that grief bursts are something that I’ll be facing for the rest of my life. Years from now, the scars from that burn could be triggered to open up again. From what? I don’t know. I just know you can never escape that pain and when it will make itself known.

Everyone seems to be watching NBC’s “This Is Us” this season. It’s been more than three episodes so I think the spoiler alert time has passed so I leave you this speech from the series premiere from actor Gerald McRaney, Major Dad himself, who now plays an OB doctor to a young couple that was having triplets but one baby died during child birth:

And, if you’re not watching this show, you definitely should. Just bring a ton of Kleenex. You’ll need them.

Remember, take part in Saturday’s Candles for Emmett – Wave of Light. At 7 p.m. (your local time zone), light a candle in honor of Emmett and all of the other babies gone too soon. You can share your photo using the  hashtags: #candlesforemmett #pailawareness and #MATears on social media like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.


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