Loss Upon Loss

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I have to preface that this is not complaint. It’s only what is on my heart… what I’m working through at this point in the road of loss I’ve been on.

Things have been beyond rough for me lately. And outside of three people in this world who even know just how bad {I don’t really tell people these things anymore because I just don’t think others are in a place to listen}, tonight on my blog is the first I’ve even been “vocal” about it. Six, five or four months ago, I would have written freely about a day like this… or days like these. But since I’ve hit some sort of block when it comes to writing on this blog, I find it difficult to attempt it now. Besides that, it will also be hard to write this because it won’t be a pretty post. I mean, it will be honest. And it will be “where I am at”. It just won’t be like the past posts I’ve written since losing my daughter. But those were different days. I found beauty in those days. Even after some of the most despairing moments when I actually wanted to die, I would find some peace and some measure of beauty in my loss. And the pain that led me to despair, as well as the beauty I found afterward, would be what I typically wrote about. Not today.

Nothing seems beautiful right now.

Someone posted a picture of this verse on their Facebook page the other day… “I will sing to the Lord for he has been good to me.” I read it and wanted to cry. I thought how could I have read that verse six months ago and believed it—right after I lost my daughter—but not be able to believe it now? Everything seems like loss right now. Last time I wrote here, I said that I’m holding it together. It doesn’t feel that way now. I’m feeling crushed by loss. I keep losing, and it’s crushing me. Everything from the small {though nothing is really small if it causes one to hurt} to the big… from the hair on my head to my individuality/creativity to people who matter to the lives that matter to me… and so much else in between. It feels like loss is waiting at every turn and is permeating every facet of my life. I have to wonder if it only seems that way because we approach the day that marks one year from when we were told our daughter was gravely ill… so maybe that just has me wearing loss-colored glasses. I don’t know. I tend to think not, though. These other losses, I know, would all bother me even pre-Anysia. They might all seem a bit bigger now than they would if I hadn’t lost a daughter so recently. But I know I would struggle with them regardless. So instead, all this loss just feels like cruelty… fuel to the fire. The weight of all of it is pressing in… like I said, crushing. So when I finally break down in the middle of a room, clinging tight to my husband’s embrace and just weep, all that comes out is “I just want her. I just want her.” These other losses… they all hurt more, I think, because losing her was the ultimate. In moments like those, I just want her… nothing more.

Yet, I find {and have said here often} that the hardest thing to deal with in loss is not the loss itself, but what follows… how things change {whether you wanted them to or not}… people, relationships, your own body, the way you look at everything. It’s all different. And every new loss that comes is no longer simply that loss. It’s all somehow sadly connected to losing her. Six months down the road after she died, I’m finding this to be the very hardest time. Not one person told me about this… that this would happen. Of course, everyone’s experience is different. But I would think I’d have read it in the journals of at least one person who experienced similar loss. Yet I didn’t. And so, unprepared, this is hitting me hard. I knew grief and sadness would be around right after losing Anysia. What I did not know about was the massive blow that would hit six months later. Everyone who loses a baby goes through the six-month milestone… six months after the baby died. There is no escaping it. What many may not have to face right on its heels is the next big milestone… the one-year mark from the day the baby’s condition is discovered and made known… for me, the very worst day of my life. Depending on when others find out about their baby’s condition and how close to term the baby is delivered, there is a good chance that many parents don’t have to get through both of those milestones within two weeks of each other. But in our case, we do. Because we found out at thirteen weeks {about three months into the pregnancy} and Anysia lived to term, it is inevitable that we should have these two days be so close together. We delivered her six months after the diagnosis… so it stands to reason that in another six months, we would also be coming up to the one-year anniversary of receiving the tragic news… a day I can hardly even think about, let alone write about.

So here I am. Much worse off these days than I thought I would be… and ironically so, because recently, I actually thought I was getting better… well, I actually was. And thus, so thought everyone else. And even if they hadn’t, the nature of this {or any loss} is that other lives return to normal where yours does not… ever.

When I found the above quote for my photo, I was intrigued to know about the person who said it. I clicked on the link {her name} that was under the quote and found on the page it led me to that she had so many other things to say about grief that are so spot on. Surely, she has known grief, because she gets it, and everything she writes about it, I recognize… I live it. One such quote is exactly my point in the paragraph above…

I wasn’t prepared for the fact that grief is so unpredictable. It wasn’t just sadness, and it wasn’t linear. Somehow I’d thought that the first days would be the worst and then it would get steadily better – like getting over the flu. That’s not how it was.” ~Meghan O’Rourke

Exactly.

When everything feels like regression instead of progression, you need others more than ever. But they’ve since gone, especially after seeing that you’re doing well… some even before that. That alone is a loss, and not one you welcome while suffering almost worse than you had in the beginning. That’s where I am.

Where it all starts to seem a bit cruel is the timing of everything else.

Loss.

More.

Really? Now?

A birthday party for a beautiful boy who you want so badly to celebrate, but celebrating him is painful, for the first time… so unlike the first celebration of his birth and a year gone by. I think back to his second birthday… when we ought to have done it again. I was pregnant and nauseous and miserable and we had no strength or energy to throw a celebration for him. It was an uneventful birthday… even sad. And coming just two weeks prior to receiving bad news about our daughter, it was almost like a foreshadowing of what was to come in the days and months that followed. A foreshadow of the next birthday… only the third to come along in his life so far, but while still reeling in the loss of his sister… a painful reminder. There’s loss there.

One side of the family that does not feel connected to that celebration… or my son… or me. Loss.

Another side that moves away and out of his life—our lives—shortly after. Loss.

Within both those things, so many littler losses, but when added up, big… things taken that can never be regained or replaced, much like Anysia can never be. Loss.

Loss of individuality or uniqueness once held in an area so near and dear, feeling like it was swept out from under us with the quick choices of others pursuing the same thing {overnight, it seems}… just because they can… even though they seem to me to already have so much… so much more. Something we’ve spent years, not just doing, but becoming… I believe it’s called Enthusiasts. Something so ingrained and integrated into the fiber of our lives and aesthetic, and after so much loss, one of the few things that felt like a blessing or that we were excited or passionate about. Something that brought us joy and felt like a God-given gift, continuing to be even more so in the face of losing a child. The bubble burst when someone comes along and does exactly what we’ve been doing, but can easily pass us on the fast track because they have far more resources to do it. Something we have striven for and worked hard for and done research in… for years. Something so near and dear to me, I had to pour my heart out over it {in tears and deeply felt pain} to my counselor just to see straight again and get past such a deep sense of loss in that area. Her insight helped me see that the thing that feels as though it was stolen was actually not… because it never can be. She showed me, instead, those who seemed to take that thing can never obtain what was actually desired—something entirely different—because it can only be gifted and/or attained. But whether I can see clearly with her sage advice and wisdom on the matter or not… whether now or eventually… it still feels like just one more loss to work through. And in my heart and mind, a very big one. One I’ve had to struggle so much through. Loss.

Even the smaller losses seem unbearable {likely because this is all just compounding}… like losing so much of my hair between four and six months post partum. There have been days I wept after brushing my hair before or after a shower… to be losing something that is a direct result of the very pregnancy that brought me such great loss to begin with. Even if I had not become pregnant, I would grieve that much of a loss of hair. Even after my pregnancy with Isaac, I grieved that much loss of hair {before it grew back, though never the same}. But to be pregnant, give birth and thus lose so much of it, but with no baby to show for it… I don’t think I have to explain why each and every brushing brings such pain. Some days, I would clear my brush out five times before that day’s worth of hair was done shedding. It seems little, I’m sure. But it’s been heart-breaking for me. Loss.

I’m learning there are so many ways to lose. Fluke loss or cause-and-effect loss are one thing. But when it’s something that didn’t have to be, it’s the most difficult to accept or find comfort in.

After losing a person who should be with us {because that was the very reason we made her}, new losses seem to cut deeper, especially the big ones. And after new loss of the big things, small ones seem equally deeply felt. It’s like there are no longer degrees to loss. It’s just all loss, and it just all feels crappy {to put it nicely}. I could write about even more of what is disappearing or the things we keep finding ourselves grieving over. But why go on? Everyone loses. I realize that. It is a normal and unfortunate fact of life. I just don’t think I can handle normal loss after losing my baby girl. I’m too tired. I’m so weary of going through the cycle over and over and over, trying to come to acceptance of all these things while I desperately seek beauty in them all, sometimes not finding it. It’s exhausting.

So, honestly, lately there’ve been days when I think I can’t take one more thing. I feel there’s little left to even lose. Of course, I know that’s not true. We could lose an income right now, but we haven’t. In fact, I’ve been blessed with more freelance hours, which we need, because Mr. B’s hours have been cut. Huh!… look at that… another loss. One provided for, but still a loss in a season where I keep thinking why do we have to keep losing? We could lose our health. That’s a tricky one, actually, because though we are all healthy in the sense that none of us are dealing with an illness or disease or injury, we have all seen the physical effects… dare I even say, damage… that grief and loss have had on us. So, yes… even my health seems to fit over on the loss side of things. Certainly, our energy, our sleep and our youth {except Isaac’s} are over there.

We’ve felt blessed to be able to do some improvements on our home. It’s one of the few things lately that does not feel like loss. But even with that, because of some of the previous losses I mentioned, it feels like the joy and excitement in it has deflated. And with all these losses, I lose more joy each day. Even hope, at times. Yes. I know where our joy and hope comes from. Those are found in God, not what we have, tangible or not. But I think of the verse “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…” and I think, were none of these things gifts? Were none good or perfect? Or does he take them because he can… because he gave them, so he can take them? Right now, I find it hard to think like Job, whose loss {I’m sure} was far greater than mine.

And I had to actually say it out loud to my counselor… I know it’s not really how God works, but it just feels like he’s cruel right now. Like he just keeps taking and taking and taking, from the big to the small. I do know it’s not true that he’s cruel. But it feels that way.

What I never realized until these past several days is that any loss—even the smallest—heaped upon such a loss as we experienced in December can almost seem as devastating as the biggest we have known or will ever know. I went through a period where it felt like we’d be gaining. Gaining ground. Gaining strength. Gaining intimacy in our friendships and relationships because of what we went through. Gaining momentum. Gaining energy to get back to where we left off before we got pregnant a little over a year ago. Gaining back all the other things {besides our child} we’d lost during the pregnancy or the grief afterward. Now, where I hoped for gain or restoration, I keep finding loss. I never anticipated any of these losses {except for the hair loss, which I knew was inevitable because I experienced it after having Isaac}. But what’s more, I never anticipated that they could be so difficult.

My counselor was on vacation for two weeks {of course!!} when all of this culminated… when all these things either hit or reached a boiling point or began. And I broke. Where I was stitched or glued back together post-losing-Anysia, I began to unravel again. The cracks began to separate once more. And I’m feeling, in many ways, far worse these days than right after my daughter died.

This is huge. This is something I never thought would be. I figured it would always be a movement or journey forward… that even when there were steps backward, they’d only come after several more were made forward. Three forward, two back. Then forward again. Two forward, none back. Two more forward, one back. Then maybe eventually, five or more forward, but only one back. Always progressing forward. I never, never, never thought that I could be in a worse place than last December/January, and this time, with less hope, peace, joy, strength or any other good word one could think of… but rather, bitterness, or at least a much stronger temptation to give in to bitterness. And defeat.

In December, I had people calling, texting, e-mailing, writing cards, visiting, asking. That’s natural. It was good and needed. Today, every bit of that is gone… perhaps also natural. But a loss none the less. Especially when hitting a stage that rears itself nastier and more painful than the one we were in just after she died.

I barely made it in to counseling last night. I just about crawled in. And when I got there, I had to lay down {something I never do} because I just felt so weak and tired from crying. I sobbed for the first ten minutes, I’m sure. It was a good thing she could get me in early… I don’t normally go on Mondays and would have had to wait until Thursday if she couldn’t have. I simply would not have made it until then. What’s difficult in all this is that we’ve become a society that puts a cap on grief and loss, to a point where you have to pay someone if you need additional help. I mean, I’m thankful it’s there. But I told my counselor last night that I wish I could just sit with a girlfriend over coffee and lament this tough time. I did get to pour out my heart for a short while to a friend over the phone a couple of nights ago… probably the closest friend I have. But I know she can not alone carry the load of supporting a grieving friend. It’s a very burdensome thing to be that friend. I know. That is why I think it should not be up to just one person to bear the load. My counselor put it to me this way… We’ve become a society full of such busy lives that we have no margin for this area in our relationships. Our lives are so full that when the hurting among us hurt, they are often left to themselves or the person they pay {if feasible} to listen and help.

I know that’s a reality that did not start with me… but it’s still a loss.

Yet one more loss upon loss.

Perhaps in resuming regular weekly counseling and some fresh perspective through it, I’ll be able to write differently down the road. Or maybe mere time will bring me to accepting what is happening all around us. I’m just not there at the moment.

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