I have talked with a few friends recently about how I have a tendency to write most frequently when my grief is the heaviest. Part of that is because writing is therapeutic and words tend to flow freely out of my deepest emotions. But the reality is that when I only write on the hardest days, my blog ends up being a less than accurate picture of what my life is like on a day-to-day basis. And that has been weighing on me recently.
Because the reality is this: The holidays, changing of the year, and the six month milestone hit me like a mack truck. I walked around in a fog for the first week of 2017. I cried. A lot. I wondered some days if I had been plunged right back into the earliest days of grief after losing Alexander. It took every ounce of energy to get up out of bed in the morning, to go to work, and to just navigate day-to-day life.
And then, almost as if someone had flipped a light switch, my days seemed to go from dark to light. And while the days are still heavy, and while a new “normal” is certainly not the same as my old normal, and while there are still difficult moments, I have had a string now of pretty decent days.
Please don’t read this and think: oh, good, Erin and Scott are finally getting better. Or that we’re somehow “getting over” our loss.
Grief is not linear. And, the reality is that I will never “get over” the loss of Alexander. There is a part of me that will forever be missing. I will never go back to the “old me” that I was before grief changed me. And, there will still be terrible days.
That said, I am learning how to carry grief. I am learning how to navigate a “new normal.” I am learning how to take the most difficult circumstances anyone could ever face, and allow them to shape me. In the past six months, I have become more kind and compassionate. I have become less concerned with things that don’t matter. My priorities have been refined. I have embraced a spirit of vulnerability and authenticity. I have learned how to walk with others through their own grief and loss. I have become more in tune with the world around me.
And, when I say all that, by no means am I trying to brag. Because, when it comes down to it, if I’m really honest with myself, I would trade every single thing listed above to have Alexander here.
One year ago, on January 26, 2016, we shared the news of our pregnancy with our friends and family and the world on social media. It was one day in a string of really happy days, weeks, and months in our lives. It was a season of our lives that was filled with anticipation and love as we were surrounded and embraced by a community of people who love us dearly and couldn’t wait to hold our sweet Alexander.
This year, our lives look a lot different than the future we had anticipated when we shared that photo and the news that we were (finally) going to be parents. We were flooded that day with messages, likes, and comments. Our tribe was overjoyed with us as we prepared for the next season of our lives.
Today, on this twenty sixth day of January, I am missing that joy and anticipation that we felt a year ago, but I am also finding myself grateful. I am grateful for those people who shared our joy one year ago, and who have also walked with us through the deepest sorrow. I am grateful that while our days are always colored by a heaviness of missing our son, we are able to find glimpses of joy once again. I am grateful that grief isn’t paralyzing every day. I am grateful to know that on the days when grief is paralyzing, I have a community around me to carry me through those days. I am grateful for laughter and for time spent with friends and colleagues. I am grateful for opportunities to connect with other bereaved parents, though I wish so badly that we didn’t have the shared experience and the need to connect. I am grateful for strings of good days, and for opportunities to share Alexander’s story openly among friends. I am grateful for opportunities to laugh about pregnancy stories (like that time I threw up at Joe’s Crab Shack) and to cry with friends who are still grieving with us.
This year should be much different than it is. This day should be much different than it is.
Even on the good days and the days when I am learning to carry this grief with just a little bit of grace and strength, I miss you, sweet Alexander. Oh, how I miss you.