What does grief look like at 17 months?
Since September I’ve been wading through some really difficult, ugly, deeply painful aspects of the grieving process.
Mostly I’ve just felt dry, uninspired, inert.
I decided I could just post a silly, frivolous post (which have their place—I need some frivolity in my life), or I could really be vulnerable and spill my proverbial guts.
I’m taking my lead from a new blogging friend, Ebe, who also lost her son Owen to stillbirth right after we lost Felicity. She has since lost two more to miscarriage. Most of the time I read her posts with my heart pounding out of my chest, saying, “YES! That’s totally me. She just read my mind.” So thank you, Ebe. I needed this push into transparency.
What grief looks like for me at 17 months
I like to shut off.
The desire to shut off emotionally is a huge temptation. Almost like if I don’t think about it, then I don’t have to feel how horribly painful this loss is for me. Sometimes that detachment is necessary, just to survive. But I have to choose to go to the painful places and deal with the emotions there, or I will end up an ugly, poisoned person, unable to connect with my emotions and see the beauty of Jesus there.
At God, at others, at life in general. Another escape mechanism. If I’m angry then I don’t have to let the pain get close.
I’m a hermit.
Aside from the few close friends who are really in this pain with me, I’m kind of a loner. Very different from the Molly of a couple years ago. I used to love large group functions, chattin’ it up with all kinds of people, etc. Now, the thought of it just drains me. Other times I feel panicked about being in a large group, even at places like church. I feel alien, alone, un-understood.
Part of that is my own doing. And part of me likes it.
What I’m doing about it
I have a counselor. I go see her once a week. I feel like I could go every day. She is direct, loving, compassionate, yet detached enough from the situation to be able to speak into it in ways that others can’t. Her trust in the Lord for me and with me is so reassuring.
I also have a few girlfriends who link arms with me and love me in this. It’s been a huge blessing to talk with these friends, being known in all the ugliness and yet still being loved. They’ve been so Christlike to me.
I journal. I have to make myself do it sometimes, but I do it. I often take assignments from my counselor and then read them to her and we talk from there. It’s been hugely helpful. Reading them aloud to my counselor is so revealing. Often, emotions are unearthed that I had no idea even existed. Confession is a truly powerful thing.
Setting necessary boundaries
I’ve had to ask myself hard questions in this season, exploring the balance between what’s necessary, what’s helpful, what’s beneficial to my soul, etc. I’ve had to make some tough calls to protect myself sometimes, allow myself the freedom and space to heal, and be okay with that.
I’ve had to strategize through situations that used to be completely unconscious. These boundaries help me so that I’m not spending most of my time sobbing on the bathroom floor. They’re necessary for me right now and I feel okay with that.
Where I’m going
Some of you reading this post might be panicking inside: Oh no, is she losing her faith? Is she depressed? How can I fix this?
I want to assure you that I feel really held by the Lord. I feel safe. I feel called into this place. If he didn’t want me here, I wouldn’t be here. If he hadn’t taken Felicity I wouldn’t be here. So there’s got to be something for me in this. There has to be.
I feel like I’ve fought it tooth and nail. But now I’m coming to more of a peace with it. I’m accepting it more. One of my dear friends through this process (who is older and wiser than me, thank God) shared with me recently about a grief she’d been facing in her life. Something she said really stood out to me. She told me, “I’m gonna drink this painful cup all the way down, just drain it. And I’m gonna ask the Lord to make it something beautiful.”
I’m at a point where I want to see the beauty of what God has for me here. It means that some days are really hard. It means that I’m going to places in my soul that I didn’t know existed before this. It means that I’m a different person. But I’m getting more comfortable with the Molly who’s been asked to bear this grief. I’m relaxing into the transformation a little more now.
I wish every day that I would get to hear Felicity’s new words, listen to her post-nap singing, change her stinky diapers. Yet I know that losing her has changed me more than getting to raise her would have. That’s a hard reality, but it’s the reality I live with.
Lord, make it something beautiful.