The suddenness of grief is disorienting. It leaves us grappling for a way, a path to walk. We, as bereaved parents, had no choice. Grief came, and we did our best. We kept waking up. We kept on. Our paths all look a little different, but the emotions often feel so familiar. Journey with this mother on an artistic expedition through the beginning stages of grief.

Part I: The Truck

Today is every day. I awake tired, longing for a few more minutes of sleep. The mirror seems unfriendly. Coffee! Coffee is friendly. It is a pretty day. The sun is shining. Clothes. Hair. The whole nine yards. A bit of rushing. Why does every morning involve rushing? I grab my bag and keys. My car is parked across the street. Street sweeping day. Look left. Right. Foot off the curb.

SLAM! One exceptionally large six-wheeler, carrying couches, driven by a sweaty guy named Bob has literally come out of nowhere and plowed directly into my body. Grief is absurd! I never saw it coming. It does not belong on my residential street. It does not belong in my every day. And then, there it is. From here on out there is before and there is after the semi-truck.

Part II: The Sea

The moments following the semi-truck: I used to breathe without thinking about it. Didn’t I? I think I did. Every breath now is conscious, painful, slow. A verse in the Bible talked about breakers going over me.

Breathe! Before the water goes over my head.

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Breathe! In the cold harsh elements.

Breathe! As my body is thrown and thrashed about.

Hour after hour. Breathing. Gasping. Trying not to let tears drown me, push me down.

Part III: The Dream

The week following the semi-truck: I awake in a movie of someone else’s life. The edges of my vision are fuzzy. Nothing I touch or see seems trustworthy. I look down at my hands and I do not know them. People talk to me, at me. This alien body responds, engages. But it is just a dream. A lot of decisions are made. But it is just a dream. A precious body that once contained a precious soul is put into a cold and hollow globe. But it is just a nightmare. I awake and look into the face of the mirror. Red, puffy, and swollen with tears. And into the void, I say, “This is real.”

Part IV: Determination

The months following the semi-truck:

I will get through this!
I will get through this!
I will get through this!
I will get through this!

Walk two miles. I may not want to move. It is healthy. It is what I need.

I will get through this!
I will get through this!

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Eat healthy food. I may not want to eat a bite. I have no appetite. It is healthy. It is what I need.

I will get through this!
I will get through this!

Sleep. Go to bed early. Ward off the crazy. It is healthy. It is what I need.

I will get through this!
I will get through this!
I will get through this!
I will get through this!

CRASH!

A glass coaster hits the wall.

I will get through this. Eventually.

Part V: Time

And then time passes. Not weeks. Not months. Years pass. Many years. And with the passing of years comes a slow change. Through years of working out the events of one day, acceptance and resilience grow in place of shock. And when it seemed the years of struggle have gone on too long. When it seems all is broken and the heart will surely bleed out, hope sneaks in through the back door of the mind.

That heart is still scarred. It is still broken. Acceptance cannot bring back the heart that existed before the semi-truck. It is not the same heart that felt the shock or the flood or the nightmare. It is not even the same heart that kept on in determination (because there was no other choice).

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It is a heart that accepts the broken and has found relief in knowing the true nature of life. Hope exists in this life, but perfect healing is for the next. It has been the acceptance of this that has made all the difference.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

Originally published on Share Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support, Inc.

Ann-Marie Ferry

Ann-Marie is a nurse based in the Midwest. She and her husband have been married for close to a decade. She has three spunky girls and one sweet little boy in heaven. After nine months of hyperemesis, hemorrhage, and pre-term labor, her first pregnancy resulted in a full-term baby girl. Kuyper, her second child, was stillborn during his second trimester in 2013. Her third pregnancy concluded six weeks early resulting in a NICU stay. Although, still complicated and high risk, she would describe her fourth and final pregnancy as a redeeming experience.