ELEVEN MONTHS

10 April 2018

Eleven months since my Thomas took his last breath. The  heart-wrenching, knee-crumbling pain I felt that day is neither less nor gone today. Every details of the day is clear. If I close my eyes hard enough, I can see his beautiful face again, searching for me whenever I moved away from him. I can see his hand holding my finger for comfort. I can see his head turning to my direction for a kiss and reassurance that all is OK, that I am OK. I can see him in pain, then calm and I can see him letting go. If I keep my eyes closed longer, I can even imagine calling out his name, my face close enough to his, asking for a kiss. Mummy kiss?

I can only see a replayed memory I dare not to forget. I wrote it all down with every hope and intention to get it published in a form of a book one day -- a book about his beautiful life and ours together, how wonderful is that would be. However, grief drowned me. I feel like I am swimming upwards (constantly), hoping to find the surface to get some air, a break from drowning. I find them, the surface, the breaks and I take in as much air as I can before the waves hit and drown me again. Sometimes I stay afloat for so long and other times I barely make it to the surface.

My grief is different from my husband's or anybody else. I read somewhere that a mother's grief is the most painful kind of grief because the bond shared between mother and child is stronger, special, one of a kind. I have to agree without dismissing my husband's grief or anybody else. Grief is personal to the person going through it. You see, I had the extra 38 weeks of knowing Thomas before anyone met him. We were one, sharing the same body, eating the same food, breathing the same air. I carried his heart and watched him grow in my belly. I had extra time with him. My bond is different, deeper.  All I know is, the only people in the world who truly understand the gravity and magnitude of my grief, are the (oncology) mothers who held their dying babies until the end. No one else.

My grief has transformed me to someone even my 25-yr old self will not recognise. My experiences in life has made me a minority. My views in life are different, perhaps, devoid of trivial complaints, gossip, superficial judgements. I have less emotional resource to give to other people outside of my immediate family and so my time and level of engagement are calculated, all in favour to my emotional capacity for that moment. I have learned to preserve my energy. My true friends know this of me. I keep my distance from anything (even anyone) that does not give me peace. That is all I ask for these days, peace.

My grief has made me parent my children differently. I no longer believe that their happiness should be my main priority. I cannot make my children happy all the time even if I try to. I firmly believe, I am doing them a disservice if all I teach them is to be happy all the time. I cannot save them from despair, sadness and disappointments but I can be there with them as they go through every storm, share an umbrella together. I can hold their hands until they are ready to stand up again. I can be there to help them feel safe. I can hug them. I give the best cuddles, don't you know? Ask my sons. They need to feel and experience all these emotions, not just happiness because truth be told, life is not all sunshine and rainbows. Resilience is only half the battle, compassion is another. One cannot feel compassion if they do not know how sadness feels.

It hasn't been an easy 11 months. I've let myself be as authentic as I can be. I am braver, yes, because I can admit I feel joy and happiness despite my desolation. I am beyond grateful because I have William. He made me a mummy, he calls me mummy. He is my soulmate. If it wasn't for him, neither my husband nor I would be where we are now, doing the things we do, making big decisions and creating dreams. When we were choosing the name for William, I said to my husband I want William because it means resolute protector, and that's who he is, a protector to the ones he loves the most.

I saw this quote and it fit Jon and I so well: "No relationship is all sunshine, but two people can share one umbrella and survive the storm together". He holds my yellow umbrella. He's my Ted.

There is a whole tribe that has been supporting me and family. Some I know and some are strangers with good hearts.

Love keeps my world go round. Love for my boys, my husband, my friends, family, myself.


A GRIEVING MUM'S LEARNED LESSON: THE OSCILLATION OF GRIEF

25 January 2018

An oscillation is a repeated motion about a fixed point. The fixed point known as the equilibrium position, is where the oscillating object returns to once the oscillation stops. (Source: Breithaupt Pages)
Words don't come easy when I try to explain what do I mean when I say "The Oscillation of Grief", so I decided to draw it instead.
The Oscillation of Grief, illustrated by me.
 That's me. My fixed point is grief, it's permanent, a lifetime. Going through life is when the oscillation begins and as I've mentioned, the fixed point is grief and I swing through all the emotions as normal healthy as I can with the people around me.

Grieving is usually paired with sadness, depression, longing, despair, etc. It's the common expectation from the bereaved. Yes, we are sad. Yes, we are lonely. Yes, we are angry. Another common expectation is that, there's a timeline until when one should grieve. I often get told to grieve as long as I want, however,  I must stop one day so I can enjoy life again, move forward and be happy.

What the non-grieving eyes can't see is that I (emphasis on "grieving mum") can be truly happy and  grieving at the same time or be grateful and still be grieving.  You can be one (happy) or the other (sad) or both. My joyful and peaceful days are not a sign of finally getting healed from my broken heart. It's far from it. The good days are just an indication that my life is not (totally) devoid of any good feels contrary to the idea that because I am grieving then I must be sad all the freaking time.

Sometimes when peaceful days are abundant and then a huge wave of sadness hit and cripples the bereaved, the eye-rolls (judgements) are imminent. Why can't she just move one? Why can't she just find joy in what she has?. Why does she keep on going back to square one?

It's almost an impossible task to just move on and enjoy what is, but it doesn't mean I am (we are) ungrateful. You can't control your feelings (fact). You can hide and ignore them but they will always find its way out just like fart. The heart will feel what it needs to feel. We shouldn't stop it. If it dictates sadness then sadness it should be. If it craves peace then give it peace. It is ok to be upset. It is ok to be sad. It is ok to be happy. It is ok to say no. It is ok to cry. It is ok to feel emotions.

It is OK to go through all the motions of the oscillation, both good and bad.

The oscillation of grief, when in motion, is the new (healthy) state of life of the bereaved. However, when stationary, the grief had only begun. It can stay motionless for as long as needed for the bearings to be right before any form of movement can commence. Seeking help can jumpstart the movement and often times it's the only effective way to start oscillation. The mind is robbed of reason when you lose someone and yet it screams why to understand the loss, that's when grief motion feels stationary.

The motions will change us as a person. It's changing me. For instance, I no longer engage with bullshit when I see it. I simply change direction, run away from it. The change usually filters the people in your circle, some leave, some stay and some don't care. The ones who stay are my truest of friends whom I adore and love with all my heart.

The illustration above should be a good guide for those who have grieving loved ones. Expect us to disconnect and reconnect to save our energy, that's just the truth and we can only ask for patience, understanding and unconditional love.

A continuous oscillation is deemed healthy and that's what I thrive for these days. I acknowledge every emotions and stay authentic as I can to these feelings and try to never apologise for having them. When I am sad, I am sad. When I am happy, I am truly happy. When I am angry, I am fuming. When I pick a fight, it's not the fight that matters, it's what I do to makeup after the fight has the most significance.

A healthy oscillation of grief requires kindness to oneself. It requires acceptance that we are not perfect beings. It requires self-love.

Disclaimer: This is written by me and thoughts and descriptions are drawn from my personal experience. Note that people grieve in different ways and this is how I am going through mine.