Grief is a vulture—circling the carrion of our loss as we watch from spectator seats. As if the loss of our daughter didn’t happen to us, but to someone else. The holy moments shared between my husband and me, those few days in the hospital, are an unseen golden tether that keeps us each above water.
That is our reality, one we try so hard to keep closed in a box on a shelf. But as the months count down to August, as the anniversary of Hazel’s stillbirth closes in, tremors shake the lid and unconscious grief slips out.
But that’s what we do as parents. We put on a mask of determined fortitude.
We aren’t the only victims in this tragic result of a fallen world, after all. Our daughter and son, six and four at the time, also lost things precious. My eldest lost the innocence of believing in a perfect world, the future of baby dolls played, secrets shared, fights fought. My son lost the naivety of believing his parents were infallible. Something that has aftershocks still to this day. His fear of death and of something happening to me is a battle we fight weekly.
The problem with pretending to be fine is that I didn’t see that the fissures of grief were tearing us apart. My daughter developed a fear of anything she did not control completely. She couldn’t be outside for fear of bugs, she couldn’t sleep because she couldn’t control her nightmares. It took a year of intense therapy and EMDR to heal her.
But my guilt runs deep.
A few nights ago my son came into my room hysterical because he didn’t understand why God took Hazel. We don’t often speak of the situation, so I was taken aback by the raw emotions he isn’t known for sharing. We talked and cried together, rabbit trails abound following the carnage of the vulture.
As her anniversary draws near, I am always reminded of how during the days that followed, we were inundated with friends and family who cared. Always asking how we were, praying for us. But then as the weeks passed, it seems like it became socially inappropriate to still be grieving. To want to talk through what happened. Everyone slides away, though. Changes the subject, “Oh, must we talk of that ordeal?”
Who is the decider of these timelines though? Who gets to have the authority on what the socially acceptable rules are for a young mother grieving?
Tonight, I pray for them. For all the moms struggling with miscarriage, with infant loss, with infertility. Don’t let the world pressure you into forgetting the souls that were knit inside you. Because they haven’t forgotten you.