Breathe in, one, two, three, four.
Breathe out, one, two, three, four.
I remember when deep breathing and counting were going to help heal the supposed worst pain of my life: giving birth. Even during my labor with Jensen, I don’t think I needed anyone counting for me. The contractions didn’t hurt, but I wanted some normalcy while I delivered him so silently. After he came into the world my body started healing, but emotionally, I didn’t even know how to begin healing. I was in pain and my brain instantly went into shock trying to protect the influx of emotions. During that time, I had to focus on healing my body by sleeping and trying to eat. That was the best I could do.
When I had to focus on emotional healing, I was lost. I felt alone and didn’t even know where to start. For the first few weeks, I just sat and stared into the nothingness. Everything felt numb and black. Even now, I can’t recall those moments or it just spirals out of control. The second week I looked in Jensen’s hospital bag. A brochure fell into my lap about online and in-person support groups. From there, I found You’re Not Alone – Love Letters from Loss Mom to Loss Mom, so many blogs journeying through others’ losses, and support near me. I read and read through so many pages, learning about how other’s heal. I realized how much reading through their words had helped me.
Then I decided to write Jensen’s story and share.
It felt so healing to write his name. To let the whole entire world know about him and his impact on my life. I needed to share the good, the bad, and the ugly. There would be a lot of ugly, but love always paved the way for the good. Six months later, it’s one healing therapy that I do every single day. Usually with hot tea in my mug and candles lit throughout the whole house. Sometimes I want to share with the world and others, I keep it between Jensen and I. I haven’t missed a day of writing since that two-week mark. Getting all my emotions out on paper, or laptop, has let me sort through it everything.
As much as I wish writing could just heal me and I’d be perfectly back to normal, that’s not how grief works.
Talk therapy has done so much good for me.
One of the hardest things I’ve done post loss was making an appointment to a therapist. I did not want to ‘be weak’ and talk to a counselor. The first time seeing her, I was terrified. Then being able to say his name, talk about how I was feeling out loud, and not feel judged was healing. It encouraged me to go to my first in-person support group, then the second. I spend a lot of time with talk therapy, six times a month to be exact. Sometimes, like this month, I’ve gone to other groups or events where I could talk more about Jensen. It’s been one of the most healing therapies I’ve done in my life after loss. This journey is so lonely and knowing there’s so many people to support me is, well, bittersweet. It breaks my heart knowing these amazing, strong women have felt this way and are able to channel that to help me and so many other moms going through loss. Reaching out and letting others know you need help, is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s helped.
There’s no rulebook on what to do after your child dies. That’s what makes finding these healing therapies so individual and hard for people to narrow down. I believe it’s trial and error. What works for me, might not work for the next person and that absolutely fine. I will say, if you are a support person reading this and wondering how to help your loved one, the most healing therapy someone can help with is saying their child’s name. It’ll open the line of communication between you two and might help find what the other person needs to heal.
I’d also like to say one more thing, losing a child takes a lifetime of healing. Please be patient with them or yourself and never feel like they or you need to put your grief on a timeline. Loss moms and dads are trying to figure out their new normal and how to move forward with their life. Be gentle with our hearts, we’re doing our best to find our healing therapies.
Even if it begins with breathing in and out.