“Write hard and clear about what hurts.” Ernest Hemingway
This quote has been sitting in my soul for a few days. There’s something healing and cathartic about writing. About putting things out there–not just the happy-go-lucky things, but the hard, messy things of life. Because as often as this doesn’t feel like my real life anymore, it is. This is real life, and it’s full of things that are hard. When I saw this post on Instagram the other day, along with the quote above, I knew that it was time to share and process a little bit about why I’m writing more in this season of life than ever before:
“I’ve never been one to shy away from my vulnerability or to avoid speaking out about topics that often get buried deeply in the silence. I truly believe that when we embrace our vulnerability, we can live more authentic lives that bring us closer to our truth… When we reclaim our stories, they have less power over us. When we share, we realize that something so isolating does not have to be. I’ve been writing A LOT about what hurts. I then observe how I feel in my body. It’s an ongoing powerful process of embracing my vulnerability. Of noticing. Of taking the mask off. Of letting go. Of coming home to my body. It’s a step in the never ending journey of healing and resilience. We are human. This is life in all of its rawness. It’s beautiful and it’s heartbreaking. But we’re not alone.” Zabie Yamasaki, Yoga Instructor
I’ve always been a writer. In the past I’ve written for a variety of reasons–processing life, sharing passions, joining conversations about youth ministry, and maybe even occasionally just to feel like I had a voice.
But this season of life feels different. My public writing has been more vulnerable than ever before.
It has to be.
So, why on earth would I choose to write so vulnerably and so publicly about the most difficult thing I have ever experienced in my life?
I write for myself.
While there are many ways to grieve, it’s becoming clear that there’s only one way to heal: and that is by facing grief, experiencing it, and going through everything that comes with it. Writing is part of my healing process, and so even if nobody ever read what I wrote, I would still write. In fact, I write a lot of stuff in my journal that will probably never make it onto the blog, because it’s just for me. It helps me process and remember and try to make sense of this weird parallel universe of a life that I find myself living. I write for myself.
I write for Alexander Scott Haligowski.
There are a lot of things that I’ll never get to do with or for Alexander. I’ll never get to parent him on this side of heaven in the way that “normal” parents get to. For me, parenting looks different. It looks like making sure he is not forgotten. It looks like helping his life and death to have a purpose. Because he is real. Because he matters. I write for my sweet boy Alexander.
I write for my community.
As someone who serves in youth ministry in a fairly large church, I live a pretty public life. I’ve always lived my life pretty openly on social media, sharing both the highlights and the ordinary moments. People celebrated with us when we found out we were pregnant, and people are grieving with us in the wake of losing Alexander. I’ve always advocated for authenticity. Writing is a way for me to share the grieving process with others. It’s also a way for me to share Alexander and his story with the many people in our lives who we care about and who care about us. I write for the community that walks with us through this journey of grief.
I write for strangers who may become friends.
The loss community is a beautiful and an awful thing. It’s like a club that nobody wants to be a part of, but that once you are, you are so glad that it exists. I am convinced that in the first few weeks after losing Alexander, reading blogs kept me sane and helped me to know that I wasn’t alone. There were some that I read, literally, from their very beginning to most current posts–months or even years of blog posts. They helped me to find hope. They helped me to know that I am not alone. While I would never wish this grief on anyone, I can only hope that what I write can extend that same hope to others who will (see below), unfortunately, find themselves part of this beautiful and awful club. I write so that others can find hope and know that they are not alone.
I write to raise awareness.
Stillbirth is a real thing that happens to real people. Before we lost Alexander, I had no idea. I didn’t know that there were other people–even people that we know–who had gone through the tragedy of losing a baby so close to the end of pregnancy. I plan to eventually write more about the statistics, but just start here: 1 in 160 pregnancies end in stillbirth. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you think about the number of babies that are born every day–it’s a lot. It’s too many. And it needs to be talked about. The silence needs to be broken. I write to help break that silence and to raise awareness.