From the archives: Grief is not linear

[While I’m on creative sabbatical through the end of the year, I’m pulling some of the most popular posts from the archives and sharing them again. With October being a month to honor and bring awareness to pregnancy and infant loss, I’ve chosen some of the writing from the first year after Benjamin’s stillbirth. These posts bring tears to my eyes, because of course, three years later, I’ve forgotten what those early days were like. This is why I blogged through my grief – I wanted to capture the moments that vanish into the fog of memory. I wanted to always remember how devastating it was to lose my son.]

Time heals all wounds.

You’ll feel better in time.

Eventually the pain will lessen.

The first 3 months…the first 6 months…the first year is the hardest.

These are all true to a degree, though they offer thin comfort. They add to the illusion that every day is better than the last, that every month is easier than its predecessor, that once you’re through the worst of it, the worst of it is gone. Which might be true but likely is not. Grief is not linear. It could be any other shape – a circle, a spiral, a wave, a triangle even but it is not a straight line.

I seem to feel a shift every few months. There was a lightening at 3 months, then again at 6, and at 9 months, I was feeling able to move forward in my life in a different way. But 2 months ago, I was thrown back to the beginning, to the intensity of daily, sometimes hourly, waves washing over me, demanding that I sob or rage or both. The news of a close friend’s pregnancy – her third child – with the same timing as mine with Ben, brought to the surface feelings that needed to see the light.  It has not been easy on either of us – joy dampened by sadness, a friendship strained as we struggle to understand each other.

I have felt through this entire journey that while I have been mourning my son, other hidden pain has shown up to be healed. There were times I would sob and wonder why the pain seemed old. I would get angry and as I took myself away to hurl rocks at the earth, it was as though a part of my brain closed since childhood was opening. I can’t tell you what I was angry about and I don’t care. I know that it needed – and found – release.

When I heard the news of my friend’s pregnancy, I felt as though I’d been hurtled back into time, back to those first months. I found myself wondering why, even as I knew the answer – grief is not linear. The worst has passed, for now, but I am not sure what will pull me under again. As long as I stop fighting and let myself float, I trust that I will resurface, a little less sad, a little more whole.

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