Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
While working towards my masters in clinical mental health counseling, I remember learning an analogy that rang true in so many of my client’s lives, but also in my own. The analogy was about grief.
I was finishing my first year of grad school when my husband and I experienced the loss of our first child, our son Oliver. Oliver was at 34 weeks gestation when we found he no longer had a heartbeat at a routine checkup and was stillborn later that night. We were absolutely shocked and heartbroken. We had just set up his crib the weekend prior, in a new apartment we were still working on moving into because we thought we’d need the space. A couple of months later, I was back in school. Feeling like a shell of myself but going through the motions because I knew my goals still remained even if my heart was broken.
It was around that time that I learned of the analogy. Grief is like a ball in a box. At first, the ball takes up the majority of the box, hitting the sides of the box with any little movement. It’s all encompassing, nothing else really exists in that box. Over time, the ball of grief shrinks. It’s still there, but now it’s a bit smaller and there’s room for other things in the box. However, with certain movements (reminders, events) that ball of grief still hits the sides of the box and its presence cannot be ignored. In my own life, at first those movements that jostled the box and brought the painful waves of grief were many. A crying baby, a pregnant woman, driving past the hospital...
Eventually the triggers of grief lessened: Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Oliver’s due date, diaper coupons in the mail from mailing lists I forgot I’d signed up for (and still, so many others).
Now, nearly 8 years later we have three healthy daughters and that ball of grief is still there but is smaller, softer, and cushioned by so much beauty. October, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, is one of those things that jostles my grief a bit. I’ve been more emotional and contemplative. But these days I’m more grateful for the reminders, the moments that I think of our son and remember the amazing impact he has in our lives even though his physical presence is missed. We will always and forever wish our son was here with us on this side of heaven. But for now, we’ll carry around that ball of grief and try our best to be grateful for what it has taught us about the fragility and immense beauty of life.
If you’re in it right now, and your ball of grief seems to be bouncing off the walls, remember that you are not alone. Your grief matters, and YOU matter!
A candle lit in remembrance of my son, and so many others, on October 15th for World Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. An “International Wave of Light” takes place at 7pm on that day to honor all the babies gone too soon.
Passion Project - FinleyAndKateBows