I lost my daughter six years ago. One of triplets, she passed away while still in the NICU.
I am often asked by moms new to this process how I felt in those early days and months after saying goodbye to her. My first response would be to say I felt like I had been hit by a semi truck and left to lay in the gravel, bruised beyond recognition. But that is not what they want to hear. They want to measure where they are at with where I was. They want to know if they are doing it “right.” They want to know if I was depressed, if I took medication, if they should listen to the people telling them what they should be thinking, feeling and doing by now.
The lines of loss and grief and postpartum depression are so blurred I could not see them clearly and I know very few loss moms who can. What I can say is, after my subsequent pregnancy, one that did not involve loss, I felt many of the familiar feelings return. The paralyzing grief was not there but the weight of my feet was just as heavy. I did not answer the phone or enjoy conversation or feel the responsibility to smile at anyone but my children. I still remember the day I hid in the basement, shh-ing my children so unexpected guests would not know we were at home. How dare they arrive happily with gifts in hand? I was not feeling light and carefree and their visit was somehow a slap in the face to my feelings. I didn’t even have the energy to turn the doorknob.
I finally turned to medication long after I should have. Until the cloud of depression — maybe postpartum depression — started to lift, I had no idea it was there or that it had been muting my world for years by that time. For some reason, after losing my daughter, I felt that taking medication would take away my vivid memories of her. I thought that if I medicated the pain I would be somehow numbing her from my life and I would not feel the sense of loss that I needed to feel in order to navigate the grieving process.
I could not have been more wrong. The only thing I can do now is let myself off the hook for not taking care of myself sooner. Could I have been a better mom, a better wife, a better friend if I had sought help for postpartum depression when I needed it most? Probably. But I have to look forward, not back.
I have learned through this process of trying to sort out grief and depression and raw heartache that nothing needs to be labeled. You don’t need a name or a diagnosis for your feelings you just need help. The best gift you can give to your children is a mother who understands that strength does not mean suffering through the pain but rather accepting help when you need it most.
If you know someone who has suffered a loss whether it be through miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss, ask them what you can do to help them with their own grieving process. Everyone moves through grief differently and all you can do is be at their side when they need someone to lean on.
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Elaine A. says
Happy (belated) Birthday and YAY!!!!! I’m SO glad you quit listening to that other voice!! 😀
Awwww, happy (belated!!!) birthday, beautiful girl. Off to read your perfect words now. XOXO
thank you for sharing that beautiful post.You really deserve it!!!
Courtney Kirkland says
Happy Birthday!! If anyone deserves it, it’s you! Congrats!! 🙂
Happy birthday and congrats! I wish that was having a nice time on this special day! And don’t listen to that voice if its telling only criticism..
Alexa (katbiggie) says
Well Happy Birthday and I will check out your article! It’s so weird to me to look at your picture and your website where beauty and self-confidence are everywhere and to hear that you also struggle with these issues. I call it my “inner 16 year old.” Some days she won’t shut up!!! I think your writing is amazing, and quite honestly, I aspire to be like you!
I found you via Mamalode and just wanted to stop by to say hello.
I also wanted to thank you for sharing that beautiful post. Your words made me cry, they made me reflect, and they reminded me to never stop looking for the beauty and joy in life.
I hope you had a lovely birthday!
I’m glad your words were featured there. They are lovely, as are you!
You are such a wonderful mom Jessica. i just finished reading the birthday present, its so amazing..! 🙂
Happy Birthday Jessica! Thanks for the awesome blog posts and heart warming stories. If it makes you feel good, I’d say the voice is jealous. 🙂 😛
Loved your words. Loved them. Thanks for sharing so honestly. YES!!
what a beautiful little piece over at mamlode.
I was blown away by your piece on Mamalode today. I also have that voice and find it difficult to quiet at times. Thanks for the wonderful reminder. And Happy Birthday to You!
Isn’t it funny how we can recognize and nurture everyone’s voice but our own. Glad you are taming your inner voice, and sharing your outer voice. Beautiful writing as always and a BIG BIRTHDAY congrats on Momalode
Happy Birthday! And congrats 🙂 Can’t wait to see what you’ve shared! Put that voice away and enjoy your special day!!
You did it beautifully; I don’t need to share. That kind of truth goes viral all on its own. xo.
Just found you through mamalode & am so glad I did! Beautiful piece.
I too have that voice… and a dream to publish my writing… congratulations to you on that dream achieved. We are all the better for reading your words.
Wishing you a very happy birthday!
I don’t know if all struggle with lack of belief. Maybe some know they’re the bomb diggety.
But I know that we all have OUR voice.
Not as flowery as others.
Not as degreed.
Not as obscure, as opaque, as transcendental.
But it’s OUR voice.
And by sharing, we hope so hard, that someone finds shelter from the storm.
OF COURSE, i’m on my way.
Happy Birthday, lady.
I’m so happy for you. So well deserved. Happiest Birthday to the woman who can actually speak to my soul and move me like no one else’s words have done before.
Happy birthday and congratulations to a woman who has an amazing voice and a great gift to share.
Jenni Chiu says
and Happy Birthday.
Happy happy birthday! Going to go check out the link but before I do I have to tell you that you are the best mother and writer!!
Happy Birthday! I made my way here via Mamalode. Your piece on Mamalode was perfect, and beautiful and such a reminder to be grateful. Thank you for sharing.
Melinda Grant says
Happy Birthday! <3
Happy Happy Birthday!
On my way over there. And yes, that voice, I struggle with it every day. Some days it wins and some days it doesn’t.
Robin @ Farewell, Stranger says
Yay! That’s so exciting, and good for you for submitting with an open heart.
Happy birthday 🙂
Happy birthday, you beautiful soul. My heart aches for your loss yet it sings at the words you write. Ever hopeful that the pain will eventually subside. Thinking of you today.
Happy Birthday and Congrats!
Happy Birthday beautiful friend!