Monday, September 2, 2013

Grief & Closure - Losing a Loved One

Today, I am publishing a piece I originally posted in April 2011 about healing the grief around the loss of a loved one. This weekend marks the four-year anniversary of my mom's transition, and this piece was written during a time when my father and I were going through some things she had stored away.  Edited since its original posting, its message still hold true for anyone experiencing grief around the loss of a loved one, and/or a miscarriage.

I dedicate this piece to a few friends who recently have lost a parent, and who currently are in the process of losing a parent.  My heart knows your grief, and the love you held/hold for your loved one.  May you find comfort in knowing you are not alone in your grief.

Yesterday during a Sunday visit with my dad, we looked through things he’d recently sorted of my mom’s stuff. He and I perused all the remaining closets, rooms, cabinets and shelves still left unchecked when in one closet I found a pillow case stuffed with something. It was my Baby Tender Love doll from my preschool-aged childhood. Her hair was matted, badly suffering cowlicks. She still wore a little blue-print onesie my mother had made for her. Other than a rip in the bottom hem and having a bad hair day, the little gal was in pretty good shape.

After I came home, I pulled Baby Tender Love out for a visit and the childhood memories came flooding back. We lived in an old dilapidated rental house on Redhill-Maxwell. As a child it seemed huge, though during a return visit as a teenager I recalled how small the rooms and yard really were. I remember playing with my dolls while sitting on the floor in the bedroom I shared with my little brother, including my Barbie, PJ and Ken dolls for which Mom also made very fashionable clothes. All those dolls and outfits were long ago pitched, though I did find my Barbie naked on a shelf. Evidently she'd been a nudist the last few decades.

As I remembered these childhood memories, I hugged Baby Tender Love close to me as if she were my baby again. The rush of memories suddenly reeled me back in time to April 1996, when I lost my own baby at eleven weeks, and with it, the dream of being a mother. Grief struck out of nowhere and tears flowed for the little baby girl I knew I carried, "Peanut." With my unborn child, there was no farewell; no funeral service or closure that signified she was gone; no opportunity to say goodbye after our short-lived relationship was over. There was only hemorrhaging through the night, labor pains and cramps as my body gave premature birth to the fetus. There was fear, uncertainty, and disconnect with the reality that I was losing my baby. The next morning was the doctor visit, outpatient surgery for a DNC, and then home to carry on in life as if none of it had ever happened, as if I'd awakened from a bad dream. I dealt with the grief off and on for several years afterward, and I truly felt peace around it, despite remembering my baby every December, the month Peanut would've been born had she gone full-term. Every year, I remember the lost dream of being a mother to what would today be a beautiful fourteen-year-old daughter.
 In hindsight, I realize that I never experienced closure around her loss.
Before mom passed, I hated funerals, and never felt comfortable being in the same room as a dead body. Yet, I recognized the event for what it was – closure for those who loved the one lost. After seven plus years of spiritual development, I understood that life as we know it in human form is simply energy transitioning into spiritual form. I initially resented the visitation, because I was tired, grieving and I didn't want to meet and greet others. Then I realized they too needed closure around the passing of a friend, neighbor, relative, coworker and acquaintance.
After it was said and done, I was grateful for the visitation. I learned how much Mom touched the lives of so many, and how they loved and appreciated her. It was such a gift. As for my mom’s body being on display, her funeral was the first I’d been to since stepping into my spiritual journey, and it no longer felt uncomfortable or awkward to be there. I felt gratitude for the opportunity to have been present with my mom upon her death. I was grateful for the funeral that allowed my family to have closure as we prepared to return her to Mother Earth.
As I held my Baby Tender Love, I strangely felt a connection I never felt with the child I lost. A physical connection that tapped right into the grief left unfinished. A connection to what it might have felt like, if only briefly, to hold my baby for the first time. I connected with that grief and felt a greater sense of closure. I was able to energetically hold my unborn baby to say goodbye as I embraced the Baby Tender Love I loved so dearly as a child.

Grief is a process, ongoing and in many phases. Rushing grief is unproductive; denying grief only feeds its strength into volcanic releases. I've dealt with the loss of my unborn baby, and now this grief feels complete.

Thank you Mom for hanging on to Baby Tender Love for me. And thank you Baby Tender Love for allowing me to say the goodbye I never had the chance to say fifteen years ago.

1 comment:

Theresa Jewel Pinkston said...

Very touching. It sounds like you were able to grieve for two people. You mended a wound of fifteen years while saying "See you later" to your mother.