For some people finding acceptance is about a “desire to let go and move on”. For others it is after they have found a new way to live, a re-establishment of their personal reality. Eventually, through healthy grieving, there does comes a day we can look back and think “I have not felt sad today” or “I have not felt that awful empty pain inside me for a while”. We are able to laugh and look forward again without feeling guilty. We can think about things other than our loss.
Living with grief
“There never is a line drawn that says ‘grief ends here’. But when dealt with in a healthy way it does eventually transmute into a form which we can live with. I remember with great clarity, when long after my miscarriage a chance remark reminded me of my loss and I really sobbed to exhaustion. At the time I thought my response inappropriate because it had all happened so long ago. But I now know in retrospect that it was the turning point towards a deeper level of acceptance. It felt like a cleansing of the guilt and hurt and the shadow of that gradually dissipated afterwards.
I finally came to that place where the intermittent memories were good ones. I comforted myself that my baby’s soul had gone on growing after it had left my body and was happy and adjusted somewhere. Perhaps even vicariously part of the family as we often think of other dead relatives – I’m sure my mother is at family celebrations and sorrows. It felt okay to put my baby’s soul to rest and no longer a betrayal or denial of her or his brief existence. She or he would always be a part of us through memory.”
It is still not uncommon for some of the stronger feelings of loss to return, perhaps on the baby’s due date or on the anniversary of the miscarriage. Sometimes, later on over the years, sad memories can be triggered. Perhaps with another loss or something said, thought or done. However, if the original grieving process has been dealt with, unexpected reminders and “anniversary phenomenon” should be brief and not overwhelming. If they still are, it might be helpful to have a few sessions with a counsellor. Coming to terms with your loss enables you to find a place in your mind where you are at peace with it.
Conversely, it can be useful to deliberately remember and give yourself the space to do so if you need it. Perhaps honour your little baby’s lost life by physically visiting a baby memorial site (see remembrance areas) or an online one. Lighting a candle and/or attending a ceremony on worldwide ‘Baby Loss Day’ of the 15th October, which is held each year, may be therapeutic.
Ultimately, to go on living life as it should be lived, recovery and healing has to begin. Eventually there does comes a point when the pain is not so disruptive. It becomes manageable and the capacity for more ordinary thoughts returns. Functioning and making every day decisions seems less stressful and slowly a dull ache replaces the stronger feelings. Gradually most people perceive that the experience changed their lives. They also realise it has added to their understanding and compassion for others.
There does not seem to be a definitive ‘point of closure’ which others refer to. It is more about acknowledgement and recognition of the inevitable, that our loss is part of life and who we are now and always will be. Acceptance eventually allows our minds peace. It does not mean we have to forget or that reminders won’t pop up again. It means the former level of grief has stopped dominating our life and eventually we return to a new normal.