Living With Grief

The Window

Triple glazing (noun, British): Triple glazing is effectively three panes of glass. This means it has an extra layer of glass to insulate your home over double glazing

I’ve spoken previously about feeling like I’m stood outside a window, peering in. Glimpsing happy families around the fireplace, that sort of thing. It got me thinking just how fitting the analogy is. There are so many windows I’m mindful of right now.

The Window…

… To acceptable grief.

Originally when I was beating myself up about my not being able to move forward, people said “it’s still so early Anj”, but I’m starting to see that sentiment wane. Will people still afford me the same kindness another 5 months from now? Or is it old news already? People feel for you and they cut you some slack, but only for a short window.

Loss mums tell me however that feeling like this doesn’t go away, but the sympathy does. And that scares me. I desperately want to wake up one day and think “ok I’ve grieved enough, I’m ok now”. I really do still hold some hope for that. I’ve no reason to think I’ll be any different to all the mums who’ve been through this before, especially since so far I’ve ticked every cliché in the book (they’re clichés for a reason!), but yeah, I am holding out on that miracle. And I hope I get there, before others give up on me.

… To putting myself first.

A big part of who I am, is showing up for others. I’ve previously worked off the premise that you can’t avoid difficult situations, you have to confront them – but that hasn’t done me any good. So I’m trying new things now: having boundaries around families/children and saying “no”.

James has agreed and supports this plan until the end of the year*. And then we essentially need to reassess whether I’ve just turned into a wholly selfish person, because that’s something we’re both genuinely worried about. We like who I was and I dislike that I’ve been forced into change.

Is this grief thing making me selfish? That does seem like the natural progression of a net receiver: the constant taker becoming the selfish. But I worry that by not putting myself first, I will fully lose a part of me to the anger. This morning I re-framed that: If attending some of these events is slowly killing me; by not showing up, I’m not losing me, I’m preserving me. The hope is that this need for self-preservation will be temporary and that this too shall pass.

* As an aside, that grieving line – “the end of the year” – is so arbitrary, it’s too neat for something so messy. If Summer had passed away sooner, I’d have bought myself another month of grief. Surely the fact that she passed away later, should give me extra time?

… To trying again.

James and I have always said that we wanted to have all our babies before 37 (because that’s apparently when the medical risk factors kick in). So we started trying for a family when I was 31, I’m now 34. Seeing that I’m 35 in December, I’m not going to have a baby this year (2020’s a write-off, with ongoing medical investigations) or one at 34 then. Having a larger family by 37 is a pipe-dream.

Though I know we should be going full-throttle, we’re taking it one day at a time. I don’t want a different baby. I want the ones we had. I know that there’s a closing window of opportunity, that we need to get a move on, but I can’t. I’m still stuck in the now.

… To writing.

I assume that this blog resonates with readers, as baby loss is something that I’m living through, right this second, every second. It’s still so raw. At some point though, I expect both the blogs and its readers to tail off, for the writing to get tiresome or for me to get writer’s block. For the hope is that in time, I will somehow heal and be able to pass on this baton of burden, as sadly, there will always be someone new going through this.

So here’s a secret: I want to not write. I want to be ok. But while I am here writing (feeling things so acutely, but without the writing, making sense of so little), I’m embracing the window you’ve so graciously granted.

… To my soul.

Do you feel like you know me? I wonder what you make of me. For this blog has given you many a glimpse. A window to my darkened and embittered mind, adjectives which I hope, stop short of my soul.

The five windows are open, but they are closing. They all remind me of an earlier blog. A blog where the window was only just ajar. And yet something special occurred, so perhaps there is hope. But let’s not forget that windows are fragile. Easily shattered. Thought: does something more than triple glazing even exist? Because I need a new layer; my three layers have been stripped away by our three losses. So never mind the window closing, there’s a gaping hole!

In my mind’s eye, I’m stood in front of a window, but I’m unsure of its position. Climbing through a ground floor window offers an escape route. Falling from a first floor window will bring further pain, a second or third storey window; certain death. So which is it? Would it be bravery or foolishness to find out?

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(5) Comments

  1. Jessie says:

    Be kind to yourself and allow space to grieve, feel that acute loss and all the storm of emotions that come with it. Putting yourself first is not easy but hopefully will allow that self care and processing that’s needed. There is no end time for grief. Especially when still in the throws of this difficult chapter of your life’s journey. You are not alone in the fear that this journey has changed you. I worry I have lost a part of myself, that it’s made me more cynical and bitter. Maybe it’s impossible for it not to have done this. Maybe we will always have a piece of ourselves forever altered, that allows jealousy and anger to sit closer to our doors. Our resilience weakened. I live in hope that hopefully we will be blessed with the families we hoped for, and with that some healing and closure. Our babies never forgotten but a burden more easily carried. I can only say that the losses before our little boy were eased slightly by his arrival, for although I wish I could have met them and wonder what they’d be like. I hope that they opened the window to the gift of giving him to us. The losses following his arrival feel more acute and leave me fearful we will never have another. But I wonder if this is because our hopes and dreams remain unfulfilled and as time passes our fears are exemplified. The knowing of how it feels to loose a baby only heightens that fear – I’m not sure how many more losses I can take, but still feel the drive to push on. I know I am blessed to have a living child and I hope that one day you may feel this pure joy too 💕 Thank you for continuing to share your ups and downs with us. It does help to know that the words you write echo so many of our own 🤗

    1. Anjulie says:

      Hi Jessie, have been meaning to thank you for this comment. I always think it’s so kind when people feel comfortable enough to share their own experiences, so thank you SO much for that. Your post gives me hope and I’m rooting for you too. Hopefully soon, this will all be the distant past and our cynical and bitter sides will subside to make room for others xx

  2. Stephanie says:

    You are being too hard on yourself – you may be setting boundaries and saying no in ways that feel unnatural to you, but you are still incredibly kind and incredibly compassionate. You are thoughtful and sensitive and generous, you are able to think of others despite still being in your own grief and I have been so touched by how you have been helping to hold me up despite the differences in our loss situations and the fact that I already had two children. The Anjulie we all know is absolutely still there x

  3. Karen Palmer says:

    There’s a quotation about grief for a child which I’ve been hunting for, for weeks, that I can’t find – but this is a bit similar ( even though it’s not specifically about a child) and sums up what my experience is, in that, yes, grief remains after many years, but not the same rawness. And ( I’m sure I’ve said this before to you – it’s my age, I repeat myself a lot!) that love and memory that you will still have of your babies, will one day feel like pure treasure. So, here’s the quote –
    “You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
    Apologies that I didn’t copy the name of the person who wrote it, but it was in Goodreads grief quotations!
    And it’s wonderful that writing helps you make sense of things. While it keeps doing that for you, keep writing. You’re very creative and clever with words and you approach so many things from an unusual and helpful angle. I really appreciate reading your posts xx

  4. We spoke about this a little the other day and the differences where I feel I’m becoming a better person because of my loss and you feel differently. But reading this I feel we are not so different my new friend. I too am putting myself first and learning for the first time, to say no. This is hard, I feel guilty for saying no, for putting myself first, for not responding to texts that I don’t want to. We’re in the throws of grief, it’s deep and it’s raw and so why do we feel that putting ourselves first for once in our lives is a bad thing – I believe it’s because we’re true of heart. So used to putting others first that putting ourselves first doesn’t come naturally – I’m still struggling. But what I find is that I have found new friendships through my grief, people who have put me first, and as super tragic as it sounds and probably says a lot about the friends I’ve kept before – being put first by friends is not something I’ve experienced before and it’s been eye opening to say the least! I want to give back to those friends and only those friends and then learn not too give too much of myself to those who don’t give back – I’ve learnt what friendship is and it’s that people who care understand that we’re putting ourselves first and will let us be and in turn are being there for us through it. Yes it’s self preservation and that’s ok. Also no, grief isn’t making you selfish, it’s just allowing you to self nurture at the moment, to look in and look after yourself. We will have our babies, by hook or by bloody crook we will have our babies – my dreams as an 18 year old will come true, much much later than I ever expected – never did I think at 36 would I still be waiting and I’d still be waiting at 37. I wish I never knew this pain, but I think it’s taught me as it is teaching you, to look in and love ourselves the way it appears you love and care for others – I know that’s what its teaching me and I’m trying so very hard to learn xx

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