Today, Sunday July 29th, is the second anniversary of Benjamin’s death. Two years ago I let him go, cradled and cried over his tiny body, and let him go again. Two days ago I held his ashes and sobbed, missing him as much as I did in those first impossible days.
Anniversaries are hard.
My body knew this was coming but my mind kept leaping over the emotional impact like Superman over a burning building. I kept myself busy. I thought about how we might mark the date. I wondered who would remember.
It hit me like a sucker punch to the solar plexus.
A few days ago I began to feel raw. Tears sat right behind my eyes, threatening overflow. My body ached to move, my spirit to find silence. The cravings for self-care were as physical as a newly reformed smoker’s desire for a cigarette. I know enough to listen when the need is strong but it’s tricky. I’m no longer in acute daily grief. Ben’s death is as much a part of me as my right arm, and almost as easy to take for granted, until the scar tissue in my heart lets me know there’s a storm coming.
Returning to what I’ve learned in the last two years I dance, I journal, I meditate. I sit by the ocean and let the waves carry the pain away. I watch the thoughts that can take me from grief to suffering and I do my best to let them go. I embrace my humanity and honor the depth of my love. I cry.
I find my way. Again. And again. And again.
And you? What do you do when the hard anniversaries hit? I’d love to know. Leave a comment or email me and I’ll compile the answers into another post. Every path is different but it’s nice to find signposts left by others along the way.
If you’re looking for signposts, consider downloading The Picking Up the Pieces Guide. It’s full of stories, love, tools and resources to support you on your grief journey. And it’s free!
I knew the grief would come before the actual date. It always does.
I dedicated today’s blog to little Benjamin.
Holding you from afar with all my love.
Aug. 1, 2010 Journal entry.
Alana and Steve and Ada lost their baby boy-he was still born. On thursday. I was filled with sadness for them. We lit a candle at dinner and sent love to them and all the babies in the world. Benjamin Baby.
Aug. 6, 2010 Journey entry.
This ritual to let go will be very powerful. I already feel the power of it. I read Alana’s post and just cried and cried yesterday. It was sad, it is sad. But remarkable the ability to write and stay open to the grief and share. It is a gift to me to know and share and offer prayers and peace in a way that comforts. I haven’t really been able to respond.
A- Sophie found this journal this week and brought it to me the other morning. I thought I would share with you.
little light says
It was really hard this year,
you would think that after all the years that have passed, it would get easier..
but thats not always the way it works.
This year on that hard anniversary my beloved great aunt passed away.
You go into such a dark place int your mind.
ask unanswerable questions, and try hard not to heave the stones of regret or swallow the sharp ones of guilt.
For me, It was just losing myself in the art therapy.
splashing paint in angry hues, seeking center in the spin of a wheel,
stitching little teardrops into cloth..
manifest and release…
some days it’s the best I can do.
(((holding you close in tears of love and longing))
The first anniversary of Slater’s stillbirth approaches on 18 August. I have it clear in my mind that the day should be spent as it would have if he were alive, like a birthday with family and friends around (minus the cake). My mum is flying over from WA, as she has done so for the first birthdays of Nathan (5) and Zoe (2.5). I’ve decided to invite a couple of friends over for lunch as if it were any other weekend but discussed the reality of the day with them. Yet I still feel as though something is wrong with me for I’ve barely displayed the grief and pain that I see through others’ posts and support groups. I was rushed to get back to normal life and get on with things and truthfully I’m still in denial for it doesn’t seem real except for this grey fuzzy emptiness.
And so, on August 18th, we shall release a few balloons in the morning as we had done at Slater’s memorial service, then surround ourselves with loved ones, enjoy whatever the day holds and just appreciate the beauty around us.
Martha Goudey says
I read with tears in my eyes the story of losing Benjamin. When I was a midwife I helped a family birth their second baby who they knew was destined to die at birth. He lived 40 minutes. Pamela grieved long and hard and beautifully. She went on to have two more children, but Zachary remains a part of their lives always. And mine.
My experience is different. I wrote a blog for nearly two years, called Taking Care of Mom. When mom died March 4, 2011, at the age of 101 (and ten months), I segued into Life After — Taking Care of Mom, Reflections. I wrote about a grief I could not have anticipated. I thought I’d feel relief. I only felt my heart breaking, a sadness enfolding me. I went through the year of firsts…her birthday that I had celebrated with her for 18 years, the first Easter, the first opening day of baseball, the first opening day of football (ha ha), the first Thanksgiving, and then Christmas, the first without her in 18 years. I was stunned at the impact each of those days had on me. Then the second year of firsts, and then the taking her ashes to California to bury next to my dad who died 65 years ago when I was a baby. I now see grief as a lifelong companion, not something to get over, but something to make peace with, to draw us into meditation and long walks on the beach and tears at unexpected times that wash us clean. It’s better now. I, too, am moving on to a new “more expansive,” web site and blog, more expressive of where I am now on this journey. Thank you so much Alena for your beautiful words.
I always feel like I can just power through them and not really feel anything. I am always wrong. Without fail.
I thought of you and am still thinking of you and loving you from where I am ♥
Thank you Alana. I have been trying to handle grief over a dissolved marriage for 4 years. Your TED video brought me to your website, which has valuable information. I thought I should be done grieving and am not. Facing this heals, avoiding the grief brings it back again and again, until it is heard.
The loss of a child, a spouse, or loved one is like a stone we hold in our pocket. At times, we get used to the weight, but then, on an anniversary, a song, the stone feels jagged and so heavy… a raw reminder of the pain & loss. I was a Labor & Delivery RN & honestly, had seen loss of infants, and sometimes mothers. Then 5 yrs ago, the unimaginable happened to me. I was full term with our second child. It was supposed to be a girl. I found myself in a very quiet OR, when a very sick, 4lb 10 oz baby boy was born. Sean had a very rare genetic defect, and we took him home, to the pink nursery, and to my daughter Alexis who was only 3 1/2 yrs. I was amazed how receptive Alexis was to the situation, & how she would softly kiss her baby brother. Sean passed away in my arms only 17days old. I was devastated, but felt honored for the time he was with us.
Then 6 wks after his loss, my truck was struck and my daughter Alexis, only 3 1/2 died instantly, and I was critically injured, and lost my right arm. My world stopped…
I was no longer a mother, a nurse, and everything I used to define myself ended. I did infertility due to my injuries & had my precious son at 29 wks. Then my husband walked away.
I was in some very dark places, but somehow, with love, time, I gave myself the permission to grieve, to grieve for the loss of not just my 2 precious children, a divorce, or my physical injuries. But the permission to grieve for the loss of “the Dream”. “The Dream” of seeing my children grow, my dream of growing old with their father. Anniversaries still are hard, I take that time to feel, rip the layers & take it in. But I feel for the first time, that if you allow yourself to do the work of grief, the light will find itself back in our souls. I survived, & am ready to take a new journey to really live again. I am sure you would agree, I would never want to relive the loss of my children, but because of it, I have seen some amazing moments of humanity, and feel blessed that I can see what is truly important in life. I see that in your message, and that is a gift that many never really understand. Take care..