Living With Grief

Who’s Winning?

Win (noun): A successful result in a contest, conflict, bet, or other endeavour; a victory

I’ve blogged about life being on hold and feeling left behind, but there’s another reason why I’m unable to move forwards, it’s because I don’t know who’s winning now: the good me or the bad me.

There was a kind comment made on my last blog, the idea that I am not a bad person, rather a person that bad things have happened to. But that’s everyone, right? Bad things happen to us all, so surely how we continue to deal with them, determines whether we’re good or not?

The good me

Thoughtful: I am full of thoughts, I have too many, don’t I? I can’t help it. I think it might be why I talk (and now write) so much, all these thoughts and nowhere to put them. This isn’t new. This was happening pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy and now (whatever this is) post-pregnancy.

Considered: I am not spontaneous and because I like to plan, I’m quite a considerate person – I don’t forget important dates, no no. Since Summer died, I’ve become a much more compassionate person too. I have far fewer (ill-informed!) opinions and I accept and sympathise far more than I ever did before.

Constructive: I’ve spent the last year or more, trying to do good things in the baby loss community. Though this website is disliked by some, I’ve come to think of it, as time well spent. Not only has it helped me to explore the width and breadth of our situation, it has helped (and continues to help, I hope) others going through it. This outlet helped me, when people couldn’t (or didn’t). For me, that good outweighs the bad. I consider this to have been meaningful work.

But as more time passes, the good is outweighed…

The bad me

Angry: I said last year that I couldn’t shake the anger and I still can’t. I know that anger is a secondary emotion, masking the underlying feelings (hurt, despair, impatience, longing etc), but I still can’t shake it. It is getting old, but all-consuming.

Bitter: I can’t see the good in things, in quite the same way, anymore. I can’t see how anything can ever be enough again. I can’t see how I can be anything but irrecoverably changed from all this, and I’m bitter about that. So much of the blissful ignorance has been stolen from me, relationships altered and I don’t have the energy or inclination for much of it anymore.

Permanent: And so, the longer this runs – this childless woe-is-me state – the more I worry that the bad side wins. But I’m not worried enough to change it, am I? That’s the secret sneaky weapon that the dark side holds, it saps your energy. Free-will versus the easy resignation. To fight it requires the belief/hope of better things to come, to fight it requires strength.

Strength (noun): The capacity of an object or substance to withstand great force or pressure

“You’re so strong, I don’t know how you do it”

I don’t feel strong though, I’m emotionally the weakest I’ve ever been. Genuinely, I think I’m worse now, than when Summer died. I just go through the motions, day in, day out.

The downright ugly

I’ve said time and again, that living with loss is not a choice. The world keeps turning, we (in the baby loss community) just keep waking up every day. If it were a choice, I wouldn’t do it.

Bizarrely, I feel somehow content with all that’s gone before (and I’m someone who struggled with contentedness) and hold little faith in the future. The past is where it’s at, it was great, and the best is behind me. So I’d rather go now, when I feel I’ve done things in service of others, rather than after a period of being focused on the unimportant superficial things (pre baby loss), or consumed with anger (post baby loss).  I’m not sure if this realisation makes me a grateful or ungrateful person, if this is a “win” for the good me or the bad me.

This trail of thought today makes me think of my dad, who died nearly 24 years ago. My mum says he used to frequently ask “are you winning?”, at the most random of times. It was just his unique and encouraging way to ask “are you making progress?”. I don’t know, Dad. I don’t know.

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(1) Comment

  1. Karen Palmer says:

    I too had a dad who would ask “are you winning?” so I like the sound of yours a lot. What a long time not to have had him in your life. I’m so sorry.
    Lots to ponder in this blog. Is bitterness more than/different from unexpressed anger? And anger, in and of itself, isn’t a “bad” emotion is it? – depending on how it’s expressed. It can be appropriate and useful and can effect change. You shouldn’t beat yourself up for feeling angry, but bottled up, it takes its toll and must be exhausting.
    So, a poem for you, for when you feel the world is rushing on and noone remembers the sadness. Maybe you’ve come across it. “An absolutely ordinary rainbow” by Les Murray.
    Much love to you xx

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