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grief is like labor: a grieving mother looks at the death of her child as the one year anniversary approaches March 13, 2007

Posted by guinever in christianity, grief, healing, loss, midwifery.
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I’ve discovered that grief can be compared to pregnancy and labor.

Instead of one contraction at a time, it’s one moment of grief at a time. Just like a woman’s water breaks without warning, a mother’s tears flow at moments unexpected. It’s the big things that I know are coming and can prepare for that are easier to handle than the little things that happen without warning. Seeing a little girl with blond hair like my daughter had. Seeing a toddler near the street. Watching my infant daughter blossom into a toddler and start doing the things her older sister used to do. Doing girlie things her older brothers never did. Driving down the road and having to stop for a funeral procession. Seeing her birthday printed in the church bulletin. These are the things that have been hard.

A year ago, I never would have imagined that I’d be visiting the cemetery so often this past year. Last March, my 2-year-old daughter died suddenly and unexpectedly. I find solace in walking among the stones and beautiful flowers, a place to connect with other mothers as well. I sit in the dirt and share stories with others who have lost their babies.

In the couple days after Abby’s death, I was numb and not crying like my husband and sons and others around me were crying. I wondered when my sobbing would start. I was thankful for an empty house when my desperate, loud cries finally burst forth. I found a little girl charm that my husband had given me after our daughter was born. I shouted and screamed for her to come back to me. Just like my cries were primal during childbirth, so they were again. But this time instead of pushing her out of me so I could take her in my arms, I was pushing her down, down into the ground and pushing her out of my arms into Jesus’ arms, releasing her spirit up, up to heaven. I had birthed her 2 years ago and now I had deathed her. This release was altogether emotional, physical and spiritual.

It is said that anniversaries and birthdays are hard days. People who haven’t experienced the death of someone close to them can’t really relate. After all, it’s only another day on the calendar, right? Three months after my daughter’s death was particularly hard on me. Being away from home made it particularly hard because I couldn’t go to my quiet place – the cemetery. My husband took me to a cemetery 850 miles away from home and yet I still found comfort. Three months. A quarter of a year. A trimester. I was reminded of my sweet baby and the womb time.

As the six-month anniversary approached, I started to break down emotionally. My thoughts were six months would turn into a year, which would slip to two years and before I knew it, I would have spent more time without her than I had with her. That thought was unbearable to me. And I sobbed. Repeatedly. For the first time since two days after her death, my crying was body intensive. Again I compared my grief to labor. I realized that I had been “putzing” through early grief for months. I had moments far apart that weren’t too hard. Once in awhile, I would have a bad one, but I always had time to regroup before the next moment of grief would wash all over me. Now, I was in hard labor grief, in and out of transition. I was overwhelmed and needed to be left alone, yet fully supported.

Last week, I spent several hours with my Grandmother when she was in hospice care before she died. Now I am preparing to go to her funeral. A few days after that will be my daughter’s birthday, followed by the anniversary of her death. I am thankful for friends and family who want to surround me on those days. Just like I’ve always taken one contraction at a time during labor, I need to remember to take one day at a time, one moment of grief at a time. This transition will end.

~written February 2006

read “grief is like labor” revisited one year later

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Comments»

1. Karla - April 1, 2007

Guinever,
I never really know what to say after I read your words. (Not that I have to say anything.) Yet the beauty and the truth in them always stirs my heart. I’m so thankful that you have this comparison in your mind to help you and guide you in your grief.
Love,
Karla

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2. Kristen - June 25, 2007

As I lay squeezed in beside my dying 16 year old precious daughter in the hospital…..I said to my sister, “remember how after a C-section when we had that horrible stomach full of gas? well it’s happening just like that now!” and since then I’ve had many other symptoms that I had when I was pregnant with Sarah….the cravings for buttery or cheesy foods…..laying in bed staring into space…etc. The other day I was putting away some of the ribbons that were on the baskets of flowers that came for her funeral in Feb ’07….They are the same type of ribbons one gets on her flowers when she gives birth to a baby girl.
The huge difference is then I was filled with joy and dreams of our future together. Now all that’s left is deep despair.

I’m so sorry that your daughter has passed away. So sorry. I pray that the Lord will lift you out of the despair that you are feeling. ~Blessings, Guinever

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3. arleen griffith - August 16, 2007

Today is the six-month anniversary of my 19-year-old son’s death. I can relate to how you, both, are feeling. I cherish the fact that, until six months ago, I had a glorious son, with all the world ahead of him. Now, I feel the loss of half a year’s time for him, as he was always so very active. He was also growing into quite a young man, both physically and emotionally. He reached his maturity prematurely in death, just as he was born prematurely into life. I remember everything about the day he was born and I remember everything about the day he died. Both were momentous occasions for me, at opposite ends of the spectrum. The time in between the two is irreplaceable, just as is my love for my son.
He always upon leaving the house, said, “Until we meet again…” — and now, I say the same to him.

Dear Arleen, I’m so sorry that your son is gone. Keep treasuring those memories as you learn to live without him. blessings, Guinever

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4. diane - January 23, 2008

I just loss my daughter chelsea,- she was the most beautiful girl ,everything you could want in a daughter and so much more,she was accidently shot by a gun.chelsea was just 15,you wonder in life how did god create us to cope with such aloss.right now i dont see how its possible intirely.I express my condolences to everyone and god bless

Diane, I am so so sorry that Chelsea is gone. ~blessings, Guinever

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5. lucia - November 12, 2008

Hi I lost my dear son sept 7th of 2007 he was 31 , I found him dead on his kitchen floor , it was horrifing to say the least. I kep saying my baby , my baby , and deep pain came from my heart.
yes I would compare it to labor, I just rocked myself back and forth like I was in labor..
until you lose a child one never knows the deep pain you go thru. my sons wife just married 13 months later , they were married for 15 years. I cried , how can she move on so fast , whats going to happen to my 3 grandchildren I cry out to God always. I want to see him again so much.

Lucia, I am so so sorry that your son is gone. So so sorry. There are truly no words.
Please let you daughter-in-law find new happiness. I’m sure she’ll always miss and remember your son…but its different for a mother, isn’t it? ~blessings, Guinever

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6. m.l.s - December 1, 2008

My name is martha. In july of 2006 my 6 year old daughter crystal, her dad & myself went to a lake to celebrate 4th of july. It was the worst weekend of my life. We got into a boat accident that ended
her life. boat crashed into a mountain. She was lifeless & i couldnt hold her because all my ribs where broken. That vision haunts me evryday! I miss her so much. Time does not heal, time makes the pain more intense. I wish god would have taken me, because im lifeless without my princess. she was buried 2 weeks later…..on the day of her scheduled birthday party.
What have i done to deserve this. I cant forgive myself for failing her as a mother. It was my job to protect her……damnnnnnnnnnnn!
i miss her soooooooo!

Martha, I’m so sorry for the tragic loss of your daughter. I too have thoughts that haunt me….I think time does heal, though, if you let it. The hurt will never go away entirely, but I pray that you’ll someday find peace.
~blessings, Guinever

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7. Maimoona Sangji - February 4, 2009

I lost my 23 year old daughter, Sheharbano, on 16 Jan 2009 due to the injuries she suffered in a flashfire while working in the chemistry lab of UCLA. We had sent our daughter all the way from Pakistan for higher education and better life. How do I forgive myself for sending her away? I am lost.

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8. Jacqui - February 20, 2009

I have just read your story and realise that there are other Mum’s that feel the same as me, (I have been feeling so alone). My beautiful 16 year old son Joshua was killed in a car crash on Friday 26th January 2007 @ 13.29pm, the time is imprinted on my mind.
I work at the same school that Joshua was Head Boy, I was totally unware that any of his friends could drive. He went for a lunchtime drive with three of his friends plus the girl driver who was a year older. Joshua was sitting behind the driver with a seatbelt on. She was speeding and hit a tree Joshua died 7 minutes later. I was told there had been an accident and was taken to the scene but was unable to see Joshua, the next time I saw him was on a slab in the mortuary! I wasn’t allowed to hold him!
My heart broke that day it is a memory that will live with me forever, he was my baby and always will be,I should have been able to protect him. 
Joshua was talented and very funny, his smile would light up a room, he was a guitarist, artist and also an actor he was loved and respected by everyone that knew him.
 He had dreams that will never be forfilled.
I have tried to be strong for my family and his friends and hope that he is proud of me. I cry my tears when I’m alone or at night when I can’t be heard. I just want him back, I miss him so much!

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9. CATHERINE - March 31, 2009

MY BEST FRIEND LOST HER BEAUTIFULL SON HE WAS JUST 15 MONTHS OLD ON THE SUNDAY SHE HAD A BAD FEELING THAT SOMETHING WAS WRONG WITH HIM SHE TOOK HIM TO THE HOSPITAL BUT THEY SAID THAT AFTER DOING VARIOUS TESTS THAT HE WAS FIT AND HEALTHY, HE DIED IN HIS SLEEP THAT NIGHT, I AM AT LOSS WHAT TO DO AND SAY TO HER, I CAN FEEL HER PAIN BUT I CAN NOT EASE IT, I FEEL HELPLESS

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10. LYN - April 28, 2009

Lyn—April 28, 2009

MY COUSIN JUST LOST HER SIX YEAR OLD SON. HER ONLY CHILD. THE CHILD SHE THOUGHT THAT SHE WOULD NEVER HAVE. AT THIS POINT, WE DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW HE DIED. DENVER WAS SUCH A SWEET, FUNNY, PRECIOUS LITTLE BOY. THE LOSS THAT THE REST OF THE FAMILY FEELS IS SO GREAT, I CANNOT EVEN BEGIN TO IMAGINE THE LOSS AND THE PAIN THAT SHE FEELS. TO KNOW THAT HIS DEATH MIGHT NOT HAVE BEEN AN ACCIDENT IS UNBEARABLE FOR THE REST OF US, HOW MUCH WORSE IT MUST BE FOR HER. SHE BUILT HER WORLD AROUND HER SON AND NOW HE’S GONE AND THOSE OF US WHO SO DEARLY LOVE THEM BOTH ARE AT A TOTAL LOSS OF WHAT TO DO, SAY, THINK, AND FEEL. ONE MOMENT I’M AT PEACE WITH DENVER BEING WITH HIS REAL “DADDY” OUR HEAVENLY FATHER, BUT THE NEXT MOMENT I’M MAD, FURIOUS, WANTING REVENGE AND RETRIBUTIION. THE HELPLESSNESS, I FEEL IS SO OVERWHELMING.

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11. linda - December 9, 2009

God Bless you all. I am sorry for the pain that we are experiencing- it is particularly intense at the holidays. Our beautiful, sweet, 12 year old daughter died in a skiing accident on a family trip March 4,2009. 9 months has passed and it hurts like it was yesterday. Does it ever stop? I am so grateful for my 3 boys and know that I am so lucky to have them, they keep us going. But there is something about the loss a mother feels for a daughter. The visceral pain like the birth that Kristen spoke of. I wonder- two years later are you healing or finding comfort? I hope so. I will pray for you all

Time definitely brings healing. But it does take time, lots of it!!! and healing doesn’t mean that there is no more pain. It just means that life just gets a little easier and that the time between intense sorrow grows wider. Everyone is different, but now after almost 5years, I find myself crying again often. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The ache isn’t as bad….~blessings, Guinever

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12. Amys mom - November 14, 2010

I dont even know how I came across this page. This past October 27th I lost my Amy Jade she died in her sleep she was 4 mnths.I am responsable because if I woke up in time maybe I could have saved her everyone says I did what I could,but it doesnt seem like that for me. I want Amy back I would give anything for Amy. I smile sometimes with my older daughter but I immediatly stop how can I be smiling when Amy is gone? I dont belive the saying you love your children the same,as huge as my love is for both,as different it is for both,and Amy truly is a special kind I fought through a complicated bed ridden pregnancy for 9 mnths straight and now after 4 mnths that dont even seem like 4 mnths shes just gone…

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guinever - November 14, 2010

I have tears for you, my friend. Your grief is so new. So raw. I am so, so sorry that your precious Amy Jade is gone and no longer with you. I hate this for you. It is ok to smile with your other daughter. You must keep smiling for her. Don’t let Amy’s death overwhelm you to the point that you can’t enjoy and care for your living daughter.

I know that it is hard to believe me right now, but this terrible grief lessens with time. Please don’t misunderstand me; you will always love Amy, you will never ever forget her, you will always miss her, you always cry for her, but the everyday nitty gritty of life just gets easier.

Amy’s death is not your fault. Let go of the guilt. What is your faith? Can you rest in the Lord? Take this awful journey of deep loss not only one day at a time, but one hour, one moment at a time. It’s so hard; I know because I’ve been there! I am there.. I am here 5 1/2 years later, still crying for my precious daughter, but happy for her new life with Christ.

I wish for you peace and grace, Guinever

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13. Jyoti Jain - April 14, 2011

I lost my 2.3 year old son on 22nd March 2011. He was crushed to death by a car in front of my eyes. I can not believe that he is dead, I miss him so much that it is very difficult to put them in words. I think I will go insane in few days. I follow Jainism, and everyone tell me that you reap what you sow. I must have done some very bad karma in this birth or previous birth due to which I have to suffer this tremendous pain.

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