If you would have told me twenty weeks ago that I would be able to smile again, I would have rolled my eyes at you. I would promise you that a smile would never cross my face again because how could I smile after my baby died? When I thought of smiling, I thought of the pure happiness from before Jensen was born. A smile that filled my whole entire face and came from the soul. I’m not sure I’ll ever have one of those smiles again in the after, but I have smiled. My post-loss smiles are broken, but they come and go.
My good day today falls on the day Jensen’s heart stopped. I never really pay attention to Mondays because I was so numb that day. Now I won’t let myself just focus on his death, but I mourn alone on Mondays. Tuesdays represent the last physical connection, which is harder for me. But alas, I’ve finally had a good Monday. Even on the Monday before the month changes! There’s been multiple reasons to smile today. I’m still gushing over the sunset that reminded her of Jensen, shared with me on Saturday. Yesterday while swimming, I found a little feather from Jensen. Today I got to see Jensen’s name (three times!) from two other people. One on a beach in Canada and two others from the Painted Name Project. I looked through all his pictures and hospital memories today too. All these moments are happy moments that stemmed from Jensen and his time here. It hit me after all these good things that these good days, with tears, don’t get shared enough.
Up until a few weeks ago, I felt guilty over smiling. Heck, I felt guilty for having a ‘good’ day. Before I go any further I’ll explain what a ‘good’ day looks like. A good day after loss is different from before loss. It’s when you can breathe without feeling like you’re drowning. Where you can leave the comfort and safety of your home and not be overcome by triggers. Tears still come during these days, but they don’t stall everything else. You can live in the moment, still thinking about your angel, but able to do things for them and yourself. Good days are still hard right now, but they’re crucial during grief. But when it hits you that you’re having a good day and you find yourself smiling; the guilt rushes over. Especially on that first good day.
Then it all spirals down again. Grief hits harder and it pulls you under. You feel like a horrible person for being able to enjoy a day when you know your baby isn’t here and will never be here. There’s guilt in feeling like you haven’t fully mourned your child on that day. There’s distrust in good feelings and emotions. A part of you doesn’t ever want to feel happy again because how can you when they’re not in your arms? How can a mother feel anything but the pain that comes after hearing your baby’s heart isn’t beating? It hurts and you breakdown. The first good day for me ended up in tears. So technically it was half a good day. It was a learning moment in grief and I learned it was okay to have a good day.
In the beginning and still to this day, I have to keep reminding myself that all these feelings of pain and sadness are okay and normal. But I never really cared or sought out to see if these ‘good’ feelings were okay. Mostly because I was afraid of feeling something different from just the immense amount of pain that I’m used to. I felt like having an okay day meant that everyone else didn’t see Jensen. I thought the only way people saw him or thought about him is when I was in this pain. People can’t physically see him with me, but he’s there. Always. When I can smile, no one asks about him in fear of making me ‘sad’ again. Then when I’m sad, they see the tears and feel like he’s causing me pain. No matter if it’s a good day or a bad one, he is constantly being thought about. On my good and bad days he brings me a smile and yes there are tears that come along with those happy thoughts of all my memories with him.
On good days, the tears are there for the same reason as on the bad days. I miss Jensen. I hate that he’s not with me as I planned and dreamed he would. The days that are good allow me to smile through the tears and share the happy moments with him. It’s the light shining through me, but it’s because of him I smile. It’s because of him I allow myself to heal, little by little. I can have these good days in grief because I know he lived and his life was so full, even insides my belly. I smile because he touches the life of so many people and he’s not even here on earth. How special is that? The good days allow you to see all the great things our angels do, even in death. And while he looks down on me, I’m sure my smile brings him happiness and peace. I write that with a smile and tears. Tears have healing properties to them. They release so much of the pain, but they’re not a sign of weakness. On good days, it’s perfectly fine to cry.
There are many moments where I wish I could go back in time to save Jensen. To tell myself to induce early and just maybe this wouldn’t have been the outcome. I wish I could go back and take more pictures of my belly with him there. I wish I could go back to the hospital and change that. I wish I had two birth plans; the one I originally had and one for what happened if the unimaginable that did happen. Those things I can never change, but there’s something I can say to help me in the future and other moms going through their grief.
It’s okay to have a bad day where you can’t get out of bed and just cry.
It’s okay to get out of bed, smile, and just maybe, even laugh.
No matter how hard it is to have either day, you’re doing everything the way you need. Don’t feel guilty because your angel knows that you’re doing the very best you can for them and yourself. Having a ‘good’ day is normal. It doesn’t mean you forget your baby or any of this journey. It’s a small step in healing and it’s perfectly normal. Don’t be afraid to talk about your good days and the challenges it brings. There’s no rulebook on this journey of love and loss. You’re not alone in how you feel, even on these good days. Don’t be afraid to smile, it’s your angel’s most favorite one in the whole entire world.