Tuesday, May 5, 2015

on year five

As if the grief wasn't bad enough I now have a serious case of, 'I'm terrible at this dead baby gig," going on.

So many seem to be sailing past the anniversaries. A lot of you seem to be doing fine. I know that can't be true, some of us are just more vocal than others, but I wish I had the ability to bear it with a little more grace.

This morning I stood in my friend's kitchen eating these horrible, processed store bought donuts I've been craving for a month. "I'm grief eating," I told her. And let me tell you, the friends in that house are two of a rare handful who get to see that side of me because I know they'll pull up a chair and eat a donut with me and there won't be any platitudes or expectations.

And then, later on, I said, "I feel like everyone else is coping better than me. Like I'm more of a mess than anyone else. It's been five years, why can't I just get it together?" I see snippets of lives online, and in real life, and I'm awed at how put together people seem. It's like I can't stay quiet about how sad I am, even though I've promised myself I will cope beautifully and calmly with late April, Mother's Day, Charlotte's birthday. It never works. The calm doesn't last. I fall to pieces. Every. single. year.

I said a variation of those words to a different friend last night and she said, "Well, that (losing a child) is the most difficult thing that can happen to you. You won't move past it."

But I keep trying. I expect it to be easier. I wonder how you all are doing, and how hard it's been for you, and what you do with the sadness. Do you eat donuts, or are you processing your grief in a healthier way?

Is year five easier than year one?

Yes. Obviously.

But it's awful in its own way.

My brain snatches two sentences from the endless book of grief and sends them through my mind over and over: I miss her. I want her back. I miss her. I miss her. I want her back ... 

That alone is enough to make me sit up in bed at night wild eyed with insomnia. And then the flashbacks come crashing in and I end up pacing the house at 4 am, nervously checking that all the doors are locked and all my people are safe.

And I know you go through this too. I know we who have lost experience incredible fear, longing, and rage when the anniversary comes. I know it, but I can't always see it, so I end up feeling alone. And I hate feeling alone because after Charlotte died I felt absolutely, terrifyingly alone, even though I was surrounded by people.

The surreality of burying a child is always at the back of my mind, but there is something about the anniversary of Charlotte's birth and death that makes me realize anew how awful it is that I have outlived one of my babies. 

So I eat everything. I wander from room to room. The laundry piles up. The kids watch too much television. I cry when asked what I want to eat for dinner. I cry when people are nice to me. I clutch the first card I receive with joy because the person who sent it remembered, and I am so scared people will forget that Charlotte lived as the years between her being here and her being gone expand.

In nine days I should be yelling, "Happy birthday!" when my five year old wakes up and comes out to the kitchen for breakfast. We would watch the video from the day she was born and talk about how excited we were to meet her. There wouldn't be tears, or sadness, or pain, just joy and excitement and too much sugar. FIVE. That's such a big number. I can't believe I should have a five year old. I wonder, as I do every year, just who she would be, what would make her laugh, what would make her eyes dance, or spark with anger. I don't know her, and that, more than anything, breaks my heart because as mothers our desire is to truly know our children so that we may love them better.

I miss her. 

That's it. 

Every year.

That is the root and the core and the bottom line:

I miss her.


  1. You are not alone. You just described my April this year at Caleb's 4th birthday. The indecision, the inability to do pretty much anything-still. I kept thinking "why can't I just get over this?" It gets harder the longer its been to go back into that place where grief holds us captive, it gets harder to surrender to it. I knew it would pass, but in the moment I just kept falling apart. Hang in there and know that we are missing Charlotte right along with you-5 years is such a long time to be missing your baby. Also, here is a song Ive been listening to and crying to because thats what I do to get things out! Be warned- you will cry so wait till the kids are in bed and sit down with some chocolate.

  2. Just before Christmas, I walked down the street my grandmother lived in, crying because she wasn't there - she died 29 years ago. I have a bag in a chest that contains a skirt I can never wear because it still has hairs caught in it that belong to the little dog I loved and lost 25 years ago. I am not comparing these losses to yours - well, I am, but only to say that they are lesser (much!) and were expected and longer ago and I'm *still* not coping with them in what I think of as a "grown up" way. Personally, I think that anyone who has lost a child is doing well if they get up in the morning and are still breathing - regardless of how long it was since their child died. I get two group emails every year from the father of two dear friends (brother and sister) who died of Cystic Fibrosis 25 and 23 years ago, asking others to remember their birthdays with him. I'm not entirely sure what I'm trying to say except that I'm sorry you feel alone with it all.

  3. You are not alone in feeling like even the little things are a struggle. For me it isn't just this time of grief season but comes in waves throughout the year of feeling extra hard. I see some of my babyloss friends able to function so seemingly normally and I wonder what is wrong with me. But I also hear many of them talk/write about these same struggles and I don't like it, but I am comforted knowing I am not alone. Life is just harder than it used to be. xoxo

  4. You are SO not alone!!! Charlotte was born soon before my Noah and he is coming up on his 5th birthday in July and I am already regressing (tomorrow is his date of fatal diagnosis). Every birthday and death anniversary is SO HARD. You are right, not many people express how they feel so those of us who ARE verbal feel alone. I am verbal, so do not fear you aren't alone. It does hurt my heart how few people acknowledge my son anymore even though I beg for it all over my large social media. :/ But know I always remember you & your sweet daughter this time of year as we are at the same page of grief. I'm so sorry you are walking this path. But we love you & your sweet daughter!


thank you!


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