It Wasn’t All Darkness: How a Strong Mama Coped with PPA After Her Loss

*disclaimer: this post may contain a trigger warning due to child loss.

 

When I think of a strong mama, I think of a fearless, determined, selfless, and brave women that has been through hell and back…but has the persistence to keep moving forward. I interviewed Megan– a mama I’ve come to know through the military community. Megan’s story is painfully heartbreaking– she has made it through the darkest of days and has fought like hell to find her sunshine.

I talked to Megan about her experience with postpartum anxiety– Megan’s first son, Nathan, passed away at three days old from MAS (Meconium Aspiration Syndrome) and Megan developed PPA after she gave birth to their daughter.

Megan was an open book with me. I love how she is so comfortable talking about her loss and her PPA. I wanted to know how Megan’s life was affected by her PPA after losing her first child and I am so very grateful for her wanting to share her story with me.

 

This is Megan’s story.

 

 

 

L: Have you ever suffered from depression or anxiety pre-birth? If yes, briefly describe your methods of treatment and how you coped.

M: The only anxiety I faced pre-birth was after losing Nathan when I was pregnant with Adelyn. I coped by journaling, being open about Nathan and sharing his story, talking about my feelings being pregnant after loss. I also did a lot of walking. Being able to get outside in nature helped me feel closer to Nathan as well as sorting through whatever feelings I had at the time.

 

L: In a previous conversation, you shared with me that you struggled with PPA after your second baby, Adelyn, was born. Did you know it was postpartum anxiety?

M: I just knew that something wasn’t right.

 

L: Do you believe that Nathan’s loss was the sole root of developing PPA after Adelyn was born?

M: Yes, definitely. I was anxious while I was pregnant with her and worried that history would repeat itself (even though my OB said it was next to impossible). The anxiety I had shifted once she was born though. When I was pregnant, I thought once she was born the anxiety would go away because she was here safe. However, it got worse. I started to worry about everything. Parents aren’t supposed to bury their children. It’s not the natural order of things. It can happen to anyone. It happened to us, so when my anxiety was high I had it in my head that I had already been through the worst once, it was totally possible that it could happen again. When I was thinking clearly, I could tell myself that chances were slim, but when I was anxious, the voice in the back of my head said chances were slim with Nathan too but that didn’t matter.

 

L: Please describe some of your symptoms of PPA.

M: At first, I just felt “off”. I remember filling out questionnaires to screen for PPD and my answers never raised any red flags. On paper, I seemed “fine”. Whenever I would talk to people about it, they chalked up any sort of feelings I was having to losing Nathan…but it wasn’t my grief. I also remember talking to one of my good friends who is also a loss mom and I kept telling her that I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I knew it wasn’t PPD and there wasn’t a clear answer. Something wasn’t right. Then I read something related to PPA and it started making sense. Restlessness: I had a hard time sleeping at night. Having a constant fear that something was going to go wrong. Constantly checking things: Things like the straps on her car seat, door locks, etc. Always imagining the worst case scenarios (not just with Adelyn but with all of my loved ones), obsessing about everything that could possibly go wrong. 

 

L: On an average day, how did your PPA affect your home-life– your relationship with John, Adelyn and others?

M: During the day when Adelyn was awake, I was mostly able to function normally, especially if Johnathan was around. The worry would start when he would leave for work…”what if he gets in a car accident on his way to work?”. The anxiety was worst once it got dark outside. It was almost like clockwork. Every night it almost got hard to breathe. I dreaded putting her down for the night. I dreaded going to sleep. Almost every night when I would put on her pajamas I would think, “is this what you’re going to be wearing when I find your lifeless body?”. When I would turn off the lights I would take one last look at her and think “What if this is it?” We have the Owlet and we did use it with her and it was reassuring to be able to see she was doing ok. I think my anxiety would have been much worse without it. Almost every night I would lay in bed and be restless. Johnathan would try to calm me down every time I would tell him that I didn’t feel right. On the nights when my anxiety was really bad, I would lay awake and think of almost every bad scenario that could happen. “What if our house caught on fire?”, “What if we get in a car accident tomorrow?”, “What if something happens to my parents overnight?”, “What if Adelyn gets sick?”. I think nights made it worse because Nathan passed away in the middle of the night. We were blindsided by a phone call at 4 AM. Anytime, I ever got any unexpected phone calls, my heart would sink and I automatically would assume the worst. 

 

L: Did your PPA stop you from enjoying life?

M: Not completely. I know it made certain things difficult but I was still able to enjoy life. Losing Nathan gave me a deep appreciation for life, even the tough moments. 

 

L: Do you believe that your PPA affected you as a mother?

M: I think it made me very aware of everything going on with Adelyn. I worried about everything: a runny nose, any sort of cough, constantly checking her temperature, calling the nurse advice line or taking her to the clinic to get checked out. I worried about hurting her on accident. However, I also think that it made me more present for her. I never take any time with her for granted. Back when I had PPA, I often thought that certain moments could be the last so I often lived in the moment. 

 

L: What are some of your methods of coping with stress and anxiety. (ie. working out, writing, etc.)

M: I write in a journal which helped me slow down my thought process. Once I started working out, the anxiety started to go away. 

 

L: How long do you believe that you had PPA after Adelyn was born?

M: Around 10 months.

 

L: Did you receive treatment for your PPA. (was it medication, talk therapy, etc.)

M: When I was 6 months postpartum, I actually tried to meet with a therapist on base about my anxiety. I had a great experience with our grief counselor after Nathan passed away and I wanted to meet with her. However, they set me up with another person at the clinic. I met with her but their sessions are very brief (15-20 minutes). I tried to explain my anxiety to her and by the time I had just started to get my feelings out, the session was over and I had to see my way out the door without really discussing anything…then had to wait a few weeks to be able to see her again. The type of session wasn’t beneficial to me at all. A couple of days later, my dad had a stroke and I thought I was going to lose him which intensified my anxiety. I never made it back to the therapist. Instead, I really focused on my journal and working out. 

 

L: Congratulations on your newest bundle of joy! Have you experienced PPA or even PPD with Nolan? Please describe.

M: I had the expectation that I would experience PPD or PPA with him. Six weeks postpartum and I haven’t experienced either yet. 

 

L: How do you think it’s been different since Nolan was born vs. after having Adelyn?

M: I think it’s different this time around, partially because my husband and I aren’t “new” to parenthood this time around. Nolan has been a much easier baby and I think part of it is because we have already had the experience of raising a newborn. We aren’t as nervous with him. When Adelyn was a newborn, I’m sure she picked up on our nervousness. Also, I feel like I am more “at peace” this time around. Maybe I’m just in a different stage of my grief than I was 2 years ago.

 

L: What would you say to a mother that has lost a child and is about to give birth to her next baby?

M: Take it one day at a time. Being pregnant after loss is tough…so is parenting after loss. Sometimes it’s hard to juggle grief and joy at the same time. There will be tears and that’s ok. You will have a lot of bittersweet moments where you will miss your child, and be happy for your rainbow baby at the same time. Just like your grief, allow yourself to deal with the emotions that life throws your way. It’s normal. Your rainbow baby is his or her own person. Celebrate them! While your heart will never be the same after your loss, they help heal your heart in so many ways. I think as loss parents, we have the expectation that we need to enjoy every single moment, of both pregnancy and parenting. We’ve been through the worst and often tell ourselves that we need to enjoy it all. It’s perfectly ok if you don’t. It’s ok if you want to complain about feeling miserable or if you are exhausted. You are human and those feelings are acceptable, even as a loss parent. If you go into things expecting to enjoy every single moment, you are going to feel like an awful person if you don’t. 

 

L: If you could tell a new mother anything, what would it be?

M: There will be good days and there will be challenging days. A “bad” day doesn’t mean you are a bad parent. It’s ok to ask for help. It’s ok if things on your to-do list don’t get checked off. Every child is different. Try not to compare them to other children, especially with milestones.

Megan shared some beautiful pictures with me. The one listed below is after Adelyn was born.

It Wasn't All Darkness: How a Strong Mama Coped with PPA After Her Loss

The emotion in this picture is so raw, so emotional– you can see little Nathan is always included in their family photos. <3

 

 

Below is after their third child, Nolan, was born.

It Wasn't All Darkness: How a Strong Mama Coped with PPA After Her Loss

A family of 5 now– Nathan, Adelyn, and baby brother Nolan. Megan’s face is brimming with love and content.

*photo credit goes to Hello Baby Birth Photography

L: you truly seem at peace now.

M: I am. Did I tell you the story about when we found out Nolan was a boy? I was so nervous leading up to that moment because I didn’t know what sex would be easier on my heart. I was scared that I wouldn’t get to raise a boy but at the same time I didn’t know if it was what was going to be better on me. Right before we went to the ultrasound, Somewhere Over the Rainbow started playing at this restaurant we were at. It didn’t fit the atmosphere at all. I felt like it was Nathan giving one of his signs saying not to worry…that we should be at peace with everything. And I pretty much have been since.

 

 

Resources and support.

 

Megan recommends:

 

The Compassionate Friends facebook group.

A Bed For My Heart and Still Standing on Facebook.

PPA:

It Wasn't All Darkness: How a Strong Mama Coped with PPA After Her Loss

It Wasn't All Darkness: How a Strong Mama Coped with PPA After Her Loss

It Wasn't All Darkness: How a Strong Mama Coped with PPA After Her Loss

It Wasn't All Darkness: How a Strong Mama Coped with PPA After Her Loss

 

My huge gratitude goes to Megan R. for answering my personal questions and sharing her most intimate thoughts and feelings on her loss of Nathan and PPA. I also would like to give credit to Hello Baby Birth Photography for the photos shared by Megan.
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This was fun but…can I hand in my mom card now?

I’m going to be very honest in this post & let it all out.

I’m failing as a mom. There, I said it.

This week has left me broken. I’m at the end of my rope & I don’t know what to do. My boys, whom I love dearly, are leaving me burnt out. My toddler, who is a very sweet & kind soul, is leaving me doubting whether or not I’m doing this mom-thing the right way. I feel like I’ve lost my way with him. I don’t know how to handle his tantrums, his outbursts, or his demands. I feel so annoyed at every little thing he does and jeez…doesn’t that make me sound terrible? But I’m being completely honest right now so pardon me because I don’t believe that there’s ANY parent out there that doesn’t get slightly annoyed or frustrated at their children from time to time. And if you tell me otherwise, well quit blowing smoke up my butt. Anyway, my toddler…. he’s a lovable child but he’s grown insanely jealous lately. He will rip toys away from his baby brother and go up to him and pull his hair for no reason. He will scream when he doesn’t get his way. Yes, these are all toddler-like behaviors but good lordy I was not prepared for it. And he doesn’t sleep. I dread the night-time routine because it feels like a literal torture-sentence having to deal with his little routine quirks – (he needs fresh toothpaste applied to his toothbrush twice and needs two books read…then he needs this night light on…. and this pillow here..now he doesn’t want THAT pillow, he wants the other one…. but wait..he doesn’t want this blanket on but now he does….) And then it takes negotiating and reassurance for me to be able to leave his room so he can go to sleep. Most nights, he will scream and lately I’ve found that Ricky coming up to calm him down really works. And he doesn’t sleep through the night anymore. He wakes up and finds his way into our bed… which is nice until he’s laying on top of me and my legs are numb so I move him over but he wakes up and screams for me to lay a certain way. It’s all very exhausting. He’s extremely needy for me and while it may sound like that’s not such a bad thing, I have to say that a person has their limit on how much they can be touched/climbed on/hanged on during the day. You can say that I’m lucky or blessed or maybe say that I’m ungrateful…and I can’t deny any of that. It’s just hard for me right now and very draining.

There have been days, especially this week, where I’ve lost my patience way too quick; where my voice was raised a little too loud; where I’ve needed to walk away because it was just too much. These days get to me….because at the end of the day, I’m sitting on the couch, kids in bed, and thinking to myself: thank god we just all survived today. we just made it through this day. And I know, oh do I know, that I was just barely skimming the surface at being a mom today. That I met just the minimum requirements of being emotionally there for my kids. I half-assed it. I kept the kids alive & that was it…but it was a freaking marathon. I absolutely believe that my boys deserve the world, and then some, yet every-day, I feel like I’m failing them.

For me, being there is just simply not enough. I want to give them everything I have and the whole nine-yards but most days, I’m just exhausted. And I’m not talking about physically exhausted because obviously two small kids will drain a person; I’m talking about emotionally & mentally exhausted. I’m suffering from PPD and every day is a literal struggle. I struggle to get out of bed every morning. I struggle to make my kids meals. I struggle to get outside to play with them or go on a walk. I struggle to sit on the floor with them & play. I struggle with finding the every-day joys of life. It’s really hard. It sucks. It isn’t fair….but it’s what I have to deal with. I’m struggling with depression & yes, my kids are very much getting the brunt of it. It’s totally not fair to them. Yes, they deserve a mom that is perky, enthused and patient. My husband also deserves a wife that is those things as well. I live with this every-day and the guilt is gut-wrenching. It’s a never-ending turmoil & I feel like I’ll never be better…be good enough.

I completely believe that my depression affects my kids but especially Beaux. I believe that he can sense my feelings and perhaps that plays a big impact on his own emotions/why he acts out. And I have no idea how to make it better. I’m taking the medication, I’m going to the therapist. I have my good days and I have my bad days. I was on the up & up for a while there, but in recent weeks, I’ve been battling the depression HARD. It’s funny because it just doesn’t go away….even on my best days, my depression is peeking around the corner at me, reminding me that life can never be too good.

I love being a mom and I can’t stress it enough how much I love my boys. But it’s hard. SO SO SO OOOOOO hard. I don’t have a village. I live in another country, 1,000+ miles away from any family. I have a handful of friends here that are very helpful & supportive, but I have a huge problem with asking for help when I need it the most (and feeling guilty for throwing my kids onto other people.) Being a mom was so much easier after my first was born. Sure, there were many sleepless nights and breastfeeding woes, but it was just….easy. I could bask in newborn cuddles all day long. I could dress him in the cutest, matching baby clothes and take pictures of him all day long. It was easy. And I thought (at the time) that it was hard. I LOVED being a mother back then. I felt like I gave my 110% every single day. Why is it so hard for me now?

Will it get easier?

Many tell me yes yet, many tell me no. I guess that’s just the life of being a parent.

 

I wouldn’t trade my life with anyone. I know how fortunate I am. I have many things to be happy for. This was a hard week, as I’m sure you can understand. We all feel defeated from time to time and believe that it will never get better. Here’s to hoping that tomorrow is better & sunnier.

Stay happy, my friends. <3

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Do you shave your legs in Heaven?

Her name is Elise.

We were best-friends throughout elementary school and she lived in the next town over. She had an infectious laugh that made you want to laugh right along with her, and a bubbly personality to go along with it. She was silly and always wanted her friends happy.

Elise was a kind person and I don’t think she had a bad thing to say about anyone. I admired this about her, even at eleven, because that was the time when life was getting confusing and weird. When you’re eleven and a girl, well, life is complicated and  it’s hard to find a real, true friend. But Elise was it. She was that true friend that was always there for me and she never judged or turned a cold shoulder. Elise was nice to literally every person that she came in contact with and I desperately wanted to be like her and… who am I kidding? At 28, I still aspire to be as kind as Elise. I fail by a long shot.

We were always laughing….about, well, anything. It was never a dull moment with Elise. One of my favorite memories (and there are a lot of memories) but if I had to pick one, it involved a turtle tank and a chair. One time while she was over my house, she was leaning back on a chair; not paying attention she leaned a little too far back and landed right on her ass. The chair hit my turtle tank that was on the floor behind her and water was spilling out faster than we could stop it…but I don’t think we even tried that hard because it’s impossible to do anything when you’re busting with laughter. It was all incredibly comical and I didn’t even care that I would probably get in so much trouble for it because we were laughing until we were crying. I could still remember my sides hurting from laughing so much, and how Elise was so worried about getting in trouble. She didn’t. I took the blame for it and I don’t think it was even a big deal, but she was still paranoid and she felt awful that my poor turtle tank now had a crack down the side of it that she must’ve kept apologizing to me for the rest of the night. She was like that…a good girl. A good person.

Those happy moments make it hard for me to understand why it would all soon be taken away. It makes it hard to understand how a genuinely good person could be sentenced to a miserable disease. I can never forget a friend that changed my life, and that is exactly what Elise did, she changed my life forever.

Elise was diagnosed with cancer when we were eleven years-old. The news affected me, along with my peers, so deeply because this was an amazing and kind girl and something completely terrible was happening to her.  And I guess….it made all of us really feel scared because cancer. Wow. That was like, a grown-up problem. That was an adult problem. Only old people, like our Grandparents, got cancer….not an 11 year-old kid that was just beginning to live life. But, she was going to be fine, right? Even though I never personally knew a kid that was fighting cancer, I did see all of those survivors in the St. Jude Math-A-Thon program I did every-year in school, so Elise was going to win this stupid battle with cancer and everything would be just fine. It would be fine!

The truth of the matter is though, that although cancer in children is rare, it’s the leading cause of death by disease past infancy among children in the United States. In 2017, it’s estimated that 15,270 children and adolescents ages 0 to 19 will  be diagnosed with cancer and 1,790 will die from the disease.

Although scary and unknown, Elise took her cancer diagnose with stride.  Never, and I can’t really stress this part enough, did she EVER once complain or feel sorry for herself. I remember our phone calls from The Children’s Hospital in Hershey, PA; she was always in good spirits–remaining positive and upbeat and even joking about not having to shave her legs thanks to radiation. Every-one had strong faith that Elise would make a speedy recovery and our little town put together a motorcycle benefit drive– Valley With A Heart— where over $13,000 was raised for Elise and her family. Elise had the time of her life; seeing all of her friends, family, and people she didn’t even know come out to support her in battling this “stupid cancer”… as she would call it. The benefit meant so much to Elise and to this day, 17 years later, Valley With A Heart Benefits has raised well over $100,000 to help seriously ill children and their families within the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania. And it all began with Elise.

Things were going well….sure, there was chemo and radiation and lost hair but she was doing it! She was beating this stupid cancer! Elise was even well enough to join us on our fifth grade field trip…talk about a blast. She was so thrilled to join us and to feel like a normal and healthy kid.

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We sat together on that bus ride; talking and listening to music (probably NSync or Britney Spears) the whole way there. Oh my, have I missed my best-friend! It was like the old days and every-thing felt normal. I couldn’t imagine a life without Elise because death…..well, that never, not even once, had crossed my mind. She was going to be fine, because kids don’t die from cancer…just old people.

 

I was 12 when my best friend died. I was 12 when I learned that life is so fragile. I was 12 when I learned that, no matter how kind, good, and even how young you are–that doesn’t exclude bad things happening to you.

I remember it happened way too fast and out of nowhere. Everything was fine. Elise was fine. She was healthy and doing well; but then something happened and her extremely short life was cut way too soon. Just like that. It happened just like that. It wasn’t supposed to be that way; she was going to fight that stupid cancer, continue onto middle-school and live a long and beautiful life as a badass cancer survivor! We would laugh about all the ridiculous times we had together, and she would tell me “I told you I was going to get rid of that stupid cancer! But I miss not shaving my legs!” That’s what was supposed to happen.

It was an unfair loss. It was an unbelievably sad loss. It was a heartbreaking loss. Nobody believed it. I couldn’t believe it. My memory of learning about her passing is still ingrained in my mind: my mom told me she passed away and her obituary was in the newspaper. And there it was: in black & white and right in front of my face, details about her short yet beautiful life and in the top left-corner, her school picture of that previous year…pre-stupid cancer. I must’ve read that article over 100 times and somehow, I still couldn’t process that is was real. It felt like some terrible nightmare and I was pleading for someone to just wake me up from it. I remember crying a lot and thinking that she was going to call me and say “why are you crying? I’m fine!” But that didn’t happen and sadly, this was reality.

After her passing, life was just different and for the longest time, it felt like things would never be right again. It didn’t feel real to me, even at her viewing and seeing her in that casket. That wasn’t Elise. Where is my beautiful friend with the infectious laugh and bubbly personality? Sure, her body was there, but that was it. Her soul was gone and every beautiful thing about her was now just a memory. I couldn’t really process all of it and for the longest time I lived in a make-believe world of pretending to be okay when I was really dying on the inside.

When you’re 12 and you see your best-friend in a casket….that’s a feeling I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

Elise left behind a loving family and so many friends that would miss her and talk about her many years after her passing. She left behind a huge mark in this world, in my life, and 16 years later, she still crosses my mind. I think about Elise often, but more-so, when I go through a milestone. I don’t just think about “I really wish Elise was here to share this with me”, I think of how absolutely unfair it is that she didn’t get to experience life….the way I could.

Elise didn’t get to go to high-school. She wouldn’t go to prom.

She wouldn’t have the chance to have a boyfriend or a first kiss.

She wouldn’t get to drive a car and get a license.

She wouldn’t get to walk across that graduation stage.

She wouldn’t go to college or to establish a career or even have a first job.

She would never have the chance to meet a great guy, fall in love, get married and have babies. She would never get to be a mother (and I’m certain that she would have been the best mother). 

She didn’t get to do any of those things and so much more, but for me, I was able to. So, why me? Why am I here on Earth when Elise, a young girl that was way more kind and more special than me, had to lose out on all of that? Some days, I feel like I take life for granted, I mean, I think we all do. I think we all believe that life isn’t as beautiful and fragile as it truly is. And oh…it truly is so fragile. We have to remind ourselves that we need to live life to the fullest but to not only live life, but to live our best life… for all of the people that would never get the chance.

While I do think about Elise very often, I rarely talk about her. For me, it’s painful and it makes me sad, but that doesn’t mean her memory isn’t there. Elise would be 28 next month. I often wonder where life would have taken her. There’s no doubt that she would have done amazing things. I wonder if we would have stayed best-friends or if we would’ve drifted apart… I wish I could’ve had the chance to find that out.

I miss her. I think there will always be that 12 year old girl inside of me that mourns the loss of her. She was a good person and an amazing friend. If there’s a Heaven, Elise sure is up there….holding babies and laughing at me. And complaining about shaving her legs.

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An Open Letter to Anyone that Lost a Parent too Soon

To the young adults out there that lost a parent, this one is for you– here is an open letter to anyone that lost a parent too soon.

You experienced a great loss and your still so young with so much life ahead of you. You often wonder how you can make it through the rest of your life without the parent that is no longer here. I see you struggling. On the outside, you hold it together. You keep a smile and hold your head up high; you want to take on the world and embrace life. You meet new people and want to tell them your story, because maybe they understand. Maybe they know what it feels like. You keep a smile on your face.

Every-day is a good day until a memory strikes you. And it happens so fast. You could be having a normal day until something happens. Something triggers your memory. It could be a song. It could be a picture. It could be a moment; a quick glimmer of a memory that stops you dead in your tracks and leaves you breathless. You close your eyes, take a deep breath, and remember the memory. Because that is all you have now, memories. Sometimes, especially in the beginning of it all, tears roll down your face. And then those tiny tears can turn into a few minutes of sobbing. Now, you have to sit down, because the memories, your emotions, are simply too much for you to keep you on your feet. You wonder when it will get easier. You wonder when a Tom Petty song or a white Ford pickup won’t leave your heart aching. You wonder if it will ever get easier.

Because you heard that it does get easier. You’ve heard that the deep heartbreak will turn into a dull ache. It won’t be so sad.  It won’t be so bad. It gets better. Some-day…

People have told you that the memories won’t always make you want to cry, won’t always make you feel so sad. One day, it will make you smile instead of weep. Yet, you still experience the heartbreak and the daily reminder that your parent is no longer here on Earth. And it just hits you: it could be that you go to pick up your phone to give them a call, and the sudden realization that you can’t, isn’t fair. Or, you may want to share some amazing news like you bought a house or that you’re pregnant. But you can’t. And again, it’s not fair. It’s not fair that all of these new and exciting events going on in your life also make you feel sadness in your heart. You feel sadness because they aren’t here to see it. They aren’t here to talk about it, to live it with you. Maybe it’s seeing you walk across the graduation stage or to hold their first Grandbaby, whatever it may be, they aren’t here, and the bitterness that you feel about that sometimes overwhelms and consumes you.

You try as hard as you can to live your best life, because people keep telling you “that is what they would want.” But it’s hard. I know that this is so hard. You don’t understand why these people even say this because normally, it’s those people that have no clue to what it feels like.

No. When you’re young and lose a parent, it’s a loss like no other. It’s not like losing a Grandparent that lived a long and beautiful life. It’s a bitter loss. An unfair loss. You are still so young, you still need your parents. It’s a loss that takes you for all you have and leaves you blinded by pain. It’s a loss that leaves you doubting life, doubting things that you could have, should have, done. I should have called more. I should have visited more. I wish I was different. I could have helped. It’s a loss that leaves you thinking these thoughts. They are cruel thoughts; constantly reeling through your brain like a hamster on a wheel. It can eat you up if you let it. Don’t let it.

It’s a loss that not everyone understands until they go through it. Meeting someone else that has lost a parent feels soothing; almost like you can open the floodgates and talk for hours about feelings, memories, and the past. You may know a few of these people and you keep them close to you. You now, unfortunately, are a member of an unspoken club and we have to stick together.

And then the birthdays happen. You spend the whole day wishing that you could call them on their birthday. You spend time wishing that you called all those previous years. You spend the whole day thinking about them. You may visit their grave or a place they loved to be at while here on Earth. You may look at pictures, listen to old voice mails, or do something kind for a stranger in their honor. Whatever it may be, this day is hard for you. Their birthday is another constant reminder that they aren’t here with you.

And then comes the anniversary of their death. It never gets easier. It may be one year, it may be ten years. It’s still hard. Instead of making it a sad day, you want to smile, so maybe you do something kind for a stranger. Maybe you plant some flowers, visit with a friend, or just sit on your sofa and cry. That is perfectly alright, too. You can cry today. Just cry. You can still grieve, it doesn’t have to be a fresh loss, you can grieve for as long as you need to.

That leaves me with one last thought, my friend. You don’t have a time limit on your grief. You can take this process for as long as you need to. It takes time. You may never get over it. It’s been a little over two years for me and I am still grieving. I’m not crying everyday, but I am still grieving in my own way. And that’s fine. There may always be a piece of your heart broken from this loss. I want you to know that it’s okay. I hope you find something that repairs that broken piece. I truly believe that my sons were placed on this Earth to fill my broken piece. My loss still hurts. I grieve in my own way, and you can too. It doesn’t make you weak. It makes you human.

So I’m closing this letter with a final goodbye. I want to tell you, my friend, that I know what it’s like. All of it. The heartbreak, gut-wrenching sadness, grief, “what-ifs”, and blame. I know it all too well. You are never alone in this. And I wish that I could tell you that it gets better, but I’m still waiting for that myself.

<3

 

An Open Letter to Anyone that Lost a Parent too Soon

I miss you, dad.

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