Others have said to me, grief is work and there is no way around it. It was always clear to me that there was no way around it. It is now starting to become clear to me what they meant by work. Again, this is one of those things that it is hard to understand unless you experience, because there is nothing that feels like this to compare it too. This particular brand of grief, the kind just for parents who have lost a child, this grief is completely unique. What rhymes with orange?
What I can do is to try and describe as best I can what it feels like to me. Grief is overwhelming and completely takes over your life. The grief is in charge. To try and explain it all, all that pain and where it hurts, is an almost impossible task. The parts others can see, the parts that are obvious to those around you are like slivers of a shattered mirror. So, I will try to explain a particular sliver.
I’m a good mom. I know it. I work hard at it. I take pride in it. When my girls were born I was stunned by the job in front of me, but I ran to it with a smile. I embraced all parts of the work. I carried every task in my heart. I cherished it. Having twins is one of the most magical and amazing things I have ever felt. But then I lost one of them. I am still a mom. I still have Elbow to care for, and nurture, and love. And as I grieve for Bug, as I discover new things that hurt and new things to fear. I am being a shitty mom.
I am not being the mom I know I am. I am not all of the doing the things I always did. If I do, I don’t do it out of joy or love, but out of responsibility. I have been trying to be patient with and understanding of what I need to do to cope with this tragedy, this pain, the sudden loss of my 14-month-old baby girl. I know I am able to do better because I have, so I feel guilty. I know I can’t do it now, so I feel selfish or crazy or numb.
Any type of work takes any parent away from family to a certain degree. Doing the work of grief takes me away almost completely. My movements feel mechanical, my responses automatic. My body is on auto-pilot to allow my brain, my heart, my soul time to try and make sense of my pain, to see through my sorrow. I have never before been a mom who watched the clock waiting for nap times and bedtimes. I am now. Not every day, or every nap, or every bedtime, but too many to make me feel like I am doing it right. I am doing my best and that is all I can do, but Elbow deserves all of me. And I can’t give that to her. It breaks my already broken heart.