Life after loss is divided by the before and the after.
When reflecting on the before, one sees innocence, happiness, and wholeness. Losing a child would never happen to them, or that’s what they believed. Each week and scan brought unmeasurable happiness. Motherhood felt so right. The baby that grew so perfectly inside made them feel whole. A person’s whole life felt like it was going just as planned. Nothing imaginable could take those feelings away. Of course there were scary moments, but the worst never actively entered their thoughts.
The before is filled with dreams and hopes for the future. Whether it’s preparing the baby’s nursery or packing their hospital bag everything felt just right. A mom plans, not only for those immediately after birth moments, but for the rest of their lives. They think of preschool, vacations, graduation, marriage, and even becoming a grandparent. These hopes and dreams shine so brightly, nothing feels like it could dim it.
Until a person reaches the turning point.
All of these feelings become numbed, sone even lost. The dreams a parent had for the future gonblank. Darkness sets in and seems to make itself comfortable for a very long time, maybe forever.
Life is different. The after completely changes the person, but always in bad ways but in ways a person never wish existed. The death of a child doesn’t just change a person’s being, it impacts the outlook of the world. Those happy moments they wished so very deeply would happen to them, never will with their child. This loss isn’t just one single moment, it’s in an infinite number of moments in the after.
No one would ever wish the after on a person. It breaks the people who live in it everyday. They are exhausted, but know they have to keep fighting. To keep taking those steps their child never will. This time is mentally draining. Although there are certain parts of the after that begin to feel lighter at times, it can change and be heavier at a moments notice. A person who loses their child will forever be in the after. It’s not fixable, nor is there anything ‘bad’ about them being there.
There’s also moments in the after where a loss parent looks back to the before. These reflections are bittersweet. On one hand, knowing they had these moments and happiness is peaceful. Their life hasn’t always been this way. They can look back and smile that their child was here. No one can take that away either. On the other hand, a person wants to rip the darkness off of them and someone travel back in time. They want to scream at their past selves to get help. To warn them about the storm that’s about to happen. They want to someone change their past when they are lost in these memories. It’s not everyday this happens, been when a grief trigger happens they have to play out.
Today these grief triggers are playing out for me.
On this day last year was the last big movements I felt from Jensen. I can remember sitting on my grandfathers couch after feeling like my little babe dropped even more. I was there to get an antique bassinet to keep Jensen in for my room. That day I was on my feet a lot. He felt like he always did though, just a little lower. When I actually sat on the couch he rolled and kicked his feet. A full term baby rolling in your belly definitely gets your attention.
I remember just sitting back and rubbing where I felt him turn. This moment was peaceful. I was ready to have him in my arms and watch him move while he slept. My arms just laid across my belly, resting where he would be. Almost silently, I sung a lullaby. He seemed to calm when he heard me. I got one more swift kick and felt some small movements afterwards.
This moment seems sweet to others. It really was at that time, but it’s the last roll I ever felt. The next day he moved. I felt him. My belly didn’t feel like it did on the fourth. He didn’t feel like he was just floating like he did on that morning.
But the after… it really messes with your mind.
The weeks following his silent birth I wondered if those last, big movements were are warning to me. Was he telling me to get to the hospital? My mind has forced me to think this was a sign. I hope it wasn’t. If it was, does this make me a bad mom?
I will always question if I could have saved him. Just like I’ll always wonder who he was and remember the hopes I had for him in the before.