I am grateful. Grateful for the many gifts life has given me- health, family, work, financial stability, friends, freedom. It’s how I get through my days. But every now and then I need to process some uglier feelings. I think it’s important to show that grief has many faces- that the instagram and pinterest-worthy grateful griever is an unrealistic ideal. Yes- I am grateful, but I am also sad and angry and jealous and frustrated. I hate that I feel the need to preface this post- but I want people to know I”m not angry all the time…it’s just one of my feelings, perhaps the most difficult of them all.
PTSD is common after perinatal loss. I haven’t been diagnosed with PTSD but my therapist and I talk a lot a bout how the trauma of my pregnancy with Mabel and losing her after birth still affects my daily life. I’ve struggled with framing my daughter’s death as a trauma- I feel this immense pressure (self imposed) that since I had so much notice- months- to prepare for my baby’s likely death, I should have handled and still be handling it all better.
But the tentacles of trauma reach long and far, in ways that surprise and frustrate me. I still cannot react to pregnancy news in the way I once was able, in the way that I wish I could. I recently learned that many of my close friends were pregnant- life events that are wonderful. But instead of being able to share in their joy, I retreated because I found the only feelings I could express were jealousy and even anger- reactions my friends did not deserve at all. Even though I’ve sat with these pregnancy announcements for months I still feel angry. It’s a misplaced emotion, I know. Of course I’m not angry at my friends for being pregnant. I’m angry that my daughter died and all that came with her death. I’m still angry.
- I’m angry that I had such a traumatic pregnancy- one emotional blow after another
- I’m angry that I lost the blissful ignorance right away, never allowed to think “oh everything will be fine” with her pregnancy or my subsequent pregnancy- and watching others with their well deserved bliss brings up that anger.
- I’m angry that my daughter didn’t get a baby shower. I’m angry that I cancelled the shower. I’m angry that I didn’t celebrate her more. I’m angry that I didn’t know how to, because there is no handbook on how to do what I did. Baby showers are still hard- a reminder of what I lost. Sometimes I go, sometimes I don’t.
- I’m angry that making mom friends is hard because bringing up my dead daughter always makes the get-to-know-you small talk awkward.
- I’m angry that others don’t have to struggle with these issues, making me feel even more alone.
And as I grapple with this anger, I struggle with the need to rely on my friends to help me process it all and dealing with their misunderstanding. No one has said to me straight up “waiting for and then watching your daughter die is not a traumatic event.” However people have said to me “Really? You still feel that way? Even three years later? Even after Felix?” When I hear those sentiments, I am reminded that those who have not lost a child will never understand- how could they? I’m slowly realizing I can’t expect others to understand my trauma, my reactions, my anger and my grief, as foreign and weird as they may seem. But I hope that they can accept it, as part of who I am.
Are you angry? How do you cope?
Oh the anger. It was my constant companion for quite some time. I’ve managed to dampen the feelings, but they still emerge from time to time. I was angry at everyone who was pregnant, at anyone who thought passing 12 weeks meant they were safe, at any person daring to have a second child before I could give my son a sibling, and I was even angry at women who conceived quickly after losing their babies. It was such an awful place to be, and I could barely recognize myself. Who was this angry and sad woman? It took therapy and many years to accept that these feelings are a normal part of the grieving process. And while some events are definitely still triggers, I’ve learned to accept the anger, which makes it easier to process.
I also run. That is a vital form of escapism for me. When I’m running, I’m not thinking. I’m focusing on my breathing, my pace, the music I’m listening to, or the tv I’m watching. That’s my happy place. Well then and when I’m with my kids snuggled up and reading.
Many hugs. Life is so unfair. But no one ever promised it would be. 😕
Yup. It comes and goes. I lost our first daughter at 18 weeks. I could not listen to pregnant women talk about their pregnancies, their plans, their hopes, their fears (which seemed so trivial, since they never include loss… really, you’re afraid of vomit, or being sleep-deprived?!). I didn’t want to be around them. Then I felt better for a while after my son was born and I finally had a living child to love. But now that we’re trying for a sibling and I’ve had a first-trimester miscarriage, it’s back. Anger and jealousy, especially now that the moms of some of the kids in my son’s infant/toddler classroom are starting to get pregnant again. None of them know about our first loss, and like you, I don’t want to bring it up, because it seems like such a downer, and I worry that they’d also think it was weird that I’m still upset about it almost three years later. But of course, I am.
Anyway, point is, yup, you’re not alone with the anger and jealousy. Aside from the lengths of our first pregnancies and the fact that Mabel was born alive while my daughter was not, our stories are pretty similar (also, hello from central CT!). I’m expecting the anger, jealousy, and pain to ebb and flow with time and circumstances. I’ve been less lucky with reproduction than most, but I’m still pretty hopeful that things will turn out OK in the end. I just hope that both you and I don’t have to go through too much more heartbreak to get there. Sending hugs.
I lost five kids, in my younger days. Then she died on the operating table w/ another one. I run from this so hard for I know the day that it’ll ever catch up to me, I’ll spin out of control. Like Samantha said, no one promised life would be fair.