Someone once commented on one of my posts that the first year without your child is both the longest and shortest of your life, and having marked one year without Peyton this past Friday, I agree. This year has been painfully long in its grief and unrelenting pain, and short in my progress. A year after Peyton drew her last breath, I find myself standing in the same spot: baby lost, disoriented, childless. So many things were lost with Peyton: my career, some friendships, my sense of self, and yet, at the end of the day, I am still here. This survival is a blessing that even I doubted during the most difficult moments of these past twelve months, the moments that left me weighed down, panicked and gasping for air. This month, for The Secret Garden Meeting, we are focusing on the positive, discussing those things that most contributed to our survival through loss. When I ask myself how it is that I have made it through this first year without my daughter, three words come to mind... help, love and writing.
When I speak of help, I am referring to my therapist. For me, she is the right therapist. I think as babylost mommas it is good to have someone outside of this loss who can listen to us rehash the same painful memories over and over. I am fortunate to have found a woman (a LCSW) who specializes in traumatic loss. She understands trauma and grief, and therefore understands why I am feeling what I am feeling. I have read on a few blogs of women frustrated that they weren’t getting anything out of their therapy sessions. My feelings on that are that if you are paying to talk to someone, and they are not helping you, find someone else. Therapy is not the answer for everybody, but if your grief, like mine, includes guilt for not saving your child, for not knowing your child was sick, or for ultimately having to make decisions that you are struggling through living with, I think it is important to have someone to unload that on outside of those who, themselves, are grieving your child. When babyloss feels too much to handle, the right counselor makes a world of difference.
The second key to my survival has been unconditional love. My husband has never stopped loving me, the new me, the usually lost and not so easy to get along with me. He has accepted that the road for me is different than it is for him, and without judgment, supports even what he doesn’t understand. I am also blessed with an amazing family. They have come weekly, through good days and bad, to get me out of the house, even when all that meant was driving and crying and going to the cemetery. They have made near nightly phone calls and left messages of support even when they knew that I was listening to the machine but too broken to answer the phone. They remind me constantly of how important Peyton is to them, bringing her up without prompting, reminiscing and remembering her and proving that she is loved in her role as their granddaughter, niece, and cousin, even in her absence.
Oprah Winfrey said “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” This year my truest friends have been those who chose to leave the ease and luxury of limo riding behind to sit at the back of the bus with me, experiencing every painful stone, rock and rut along this road of grief. They have shown that this Krissy, the Krissy that isn’t always predictable or comfortable to be around, is still worthy of their love. They love me and my husband enough to encourage us as a couple through this loss. They love my child, the child that most of them never met, and honor her memory by bringing her up in conversation, by displaying her picture in their home, by visiting her grave even when I am not there, and by knowing that when there is no “right thing to say” it is good to offer their arms for support, their senses of humor for relief, and every odd time, their alcohol to forget. The love of my husband, family and friends is definitely a huge part of what kept me going these last twelve months. How do you give up on yourself, when others refuse to give up on you? I had a lot more friends before Peyton died. I have a lot better friends now.
The third key to survival for me has been my writing. It is the single most therapeutic outlet for me. Each day I express myself through essays, stories, poetry, posts, chapters in my memoir about mothering Peyton, letters at her grave, lyrics to songs, or sometimes just scribbles on scraps of paper. In some ways my writing has been my very closest friend, the one invited into those areas of this loss so dark that I wouldn’t dare share them with another person. My writing does not judge me for feeling so lost, it doesn’t placate my emotions with platitudes or tell me it “knows exactly what I am going through,” when it doesn’t. My writing just waits patiently for pen to be put to paper or fingers to be set at keys, and listens as I detail my thoughts, angry ramblings, observations on life, flashbacks, second guesses, celebrations, fears, desires and ideas. My writing allows me to grieve however I need to, whenever I need to. With Peyton, I lost my desire for so many things, but my writing stepped in, keeping my mind agile, allowing me to unload pain page after page, and relieving some of the weight of this grief, even if just for a moment, word by word. Writing has allowed me to document the details of my child’s too-short life, to be true, to honor every part of this experience without fear of judgment or lack of understanding, and ultimately, through this blog, my writing has led me to a community of babylost readers and bloggers who truly understand where I am coming from. Writing has been my saving grace.
Help, love, and writing have been my keys to survival through child loss. Visit here to see what other baby lost bloggers are sharing as theirs.