Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Contradictions

"Children are not supposed to die."

Two years and three months later, this statement tends to embody my grief journey. No matter where I am in the cycle of mourning Nicholas, this sentiment is almost always at the forefront of my emotions.

The grief caused by Nicholas' death is not only painful, it is profoundly disorienting ~ children are not supposed to die.

When our baby boy died we were forced to face the most unimaginable paradox; the reality of grieving the loss of our son as well as the inherent need to continue on with life.

The contradictions seem endless. Every day there are moments when I struggle with the contradictory burden of wanting to be free of this overwhelming pain and yet needing it as a reminder of Nicholas. There is a need to fill the void of not having Nicholas walk beside us with tangible reminders of our love for him. We have quickly learned that memories are the precious gifts of the heart. That the memories we have of him, the memories we continue to create in his honour help us in our healing journey.

The following quote details a grieving parent's journey in a profound and poignant way:

" Parental grief is boundless. It touches every aspect of [a] parent's being...When a baby dies, parents grieve for the rest of their lives. Their grief becomes part of them...As time passes, parents come to appreciate that grief is [their] link to the child, [their] grief keeps [them] connected to the child"
- ARNOLD AND GEMMA, IN CORR ET AL. 1996, 50-51

It is a forever journey. A journey I would never have expected to have to live. Not that I felt that my family was exempt from such heartache, but because most people never allow their mind to go to such devastation. And yet, here we are, living with a void in our family constellation.

Having said that, there seems to be a fine line between the original conviction that we must hold onto the burden of grief in order to honour our child, and remembering to love and value our children in positive ways. I am fiercely protective of Nicholas' memory, just as I am fiercely protective of my other children's safety and well-being. I always will be. That is what mothers do. I remind my heart daily that there are wonderful ways to pay tribute to our sweet boy, Nicholas. That there are tangible ways to release the burden of pain and still love him unconditionally, creatively and generously.

Another moving quote;

" Probably the most stressful and anxiety-provoking act in human existence is the separation of a woman from her newborn infant. The response to this, which humans share with most of the animal kingdom, is an overwhelming combination of panic, rage, and distress"
- RUSKIN, IN HORCHLER AND MORRIS 1994,16

The "panic, rage and distress" that was deeply experienced in the moments, hours, days, weeks and months after losing Nicholas still creeps up on me every now and again. I still feel the anxiety, I still feel completely helpless and overwhelmed at every day life. for the most part, I've learned to live with these changes. The blueprint that was me...has changed. The experiences we have endured are intrinsically entrenched in my soul... embedded in my heart and, most days, I choose to believe that those changes have allowed me to be a better person, a better mommy, a better wife, a better daughter, a better friend...

And so, here we are, 2 years and 3 months later. There are times when, subconsciously, my mind goes to the darkest places; the "children are not supposed to die" kind of places... and then I look at his peaceful picture... I kiss my surviving children... and I remember who I am. I am a woman who will forever live with a burden in her heart, but I am also a woman who will forever live with joy in her soul.

7 comments:

New Year Mum said...

What a beautiful post... I couldn't agree with you more. One of the most amazing books that I've read on my journey spoke about how the intensity of our grief is a reflection of how deep and strong our love is for our little one. Sorry to hear about your loss and share your pain every day xo

Michele said...

" I am a woman who will forever live with a burden in her heart, but I am also a woman who will forever live with joy in her soul."

This is the most beautiful thing I have read in a very long time.

Cristin said...

My friend sometimes I feel like you have ventured into my heart and written my words and feelings for me. There are so many days I feel like I could just do a blog update and have it say "to see exactly how I am feeling please see NicholasTouch.
It's such a precarious balance. The grief that connects us and the need to find and give joy for the other little souls looking to us. From where I sit my friend, you balance it well.

Hope's Mama said...

Those quotes, oh my god, so very true. The second one took my breath away, as did the last line of the post. Thanks for sharing this.
xo

Malory said...

That 2nd quote I have read many many times & it rips at my soul. Great post Lea.

Jill said...

This is such an AMAZING post. I have come back to read it several times. Thanks for sharing your feelings and those quotes!

Carly said...

Wonderful and touching post, Lea, the quotes are perfect and trying to describe a grieving mother's feelings is so, so difficult, but you do it so well. Lots of Love, Carly

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