I have read a lot of articles about grief being like the waves of the ocean. That makes sense, I can understand their analogy. It is like waves in a sense, some are big and over take you, some are small and just sit at your feet. Since the very first day that I read that Old Fisherman’s grief article, I felt like I didn’t completely connect with it. Although I understood it, I didn’t connect it.
What I understood and connected with was the day I realized grief was like labor pains. Grief was contractions.
Having most of my children intentionally without medication I have quite a bit of first hand experience with contractions. Even my 7th child had a relatively long labor for being the 7th.
Emma’s birth was my hardest. She was the first one I went without medication. The midwife speculated that I might have been a little dehydrated causing the contractions to come one on top of each other without break for hours. HOURS and HOURS. No break in-between contractions to get ready for the next. But it was all worth it. It was worth every terrible contraction to have that sweet baby. She was perfect.
Grief for me has been like contractions. Like that moment when your water breaks and that baby drops hard on your cervix and you feel it like a lightning bolt. Then the waves start coming. You work your way through each one, sometimes you have to stop and lean on something, sometimes you need someone to hold you up.
Breathe. In through your nose, out through your mouth. Relaxing in-between each one and resting because you know another is coming. Sometimes they are huge and take your breath away, and sometimes you can work your way through it. There are a few where you lose concentration and end up screaming and yelling just to get through it. There are waves of grief that hit you the same way.
With every contraction I knew I was that much closer to my baby. With each one I would wonder what that baby looked like, what color hair they would have, and what they would be like. That is what would keep me going through labor and with every contraction, I was closer to them. That was my reward for making it through labor without medication was that beautiful baby at the end.
Grief feels like labor to me. The waves are contractions that you have to work through. But I don’t have a beautiful baby at the end that I get to hold and love on. Even my longest labor was 26 hours. I have a lifetime of grief to work through, talking myself through each wave and then waiting for the next one to hit.
One hit me out of the blue the other night. I was driving one of the kids to school. I was thinking about how Emma had never lived more then 2 miles from where she was born. How she had gone to the same school. How I had gone to the same school. I was completely overcome with a huge contraction of grief as I pulled up to the school. I had taken Emma here so many times for so many different things. Not just for school each day but for basketball, choir, book fairs, programs and so much more. All of a sudden I could see Emma so clearly, I could hear her voice and her laugh. I could see her sweet face and smell her hair. I could see her walking, the way her body moved and see her hands. It was such a contraction of grief I was worried about driving.
Labor was so physically exhausting, grief is also. Your entire body aches all the time, and you are just so tired. It is so painful. Just so painful.
I am trying to remind myself that my reward is just going to take longer this time. That I will see her again, that I will have that beautiful baby again after so many hours, days, months and years of contractions. I try and wonder why we have to endure this much pain in this life. I have no birth plan for this labor. I was not prepared. I fight every contraction even when I know they are coming. Sometimes I feel like I can’t make it through one and frantically look for a way out or someone to save me. There is no one. No one can take it away or fix it. My option is to continue to labor.