A year of Grief

It’s a year today that I lost my 8th pregnancy. Lost is a bit of a weird word, since we chose to end the pregnancy based on medical advice. The grief is as real as any baby loss. The lost dreams, hopes and ideals. It’s probably even harder to deal with because there is the added aspect of having made the choice to end the pregnancy.

The past year has been exactly like the graphic above. All over the place. I have certainly had days I haven’t thought about it. And then there have been days where things have triggered the sadness out of nowhere. I’ve spent a lot of time with my therapist. We’ve worked through a lot of things.

The emotions I’ve dealt with have been so complex and intertwined with my life experiences that they’re hard to really attribute to this loss specifically. I think what happens when you experience a loss of any kind is that the emotions from previous losses are brought up again. So in a way I’ve been dealing with compounded loss.

As my therapist has said to me on more than one occasion, I have a problem with putting my suitcase of baggage down and leaving it alone. I feel the need to check in with it, unpack it, rearrange it, carry it around a bit, check on it again, and so on. This year in particular though we’ve been working on leaving parts of the suitcase alone. I think of it as those packing cubes that many travellers use. I’m finding that more and more as I deal with everything that I’m able to leave more and more of the packing cubes alone. I’m opening and checking in on selected baggage, rather than unpacking the whole suitcase every time.

A suitcase with neatly organised packing cubes.
Image by jdltmaxson from Pixabay

And I think that’s the key with grief. It’s not linear. It’s a gradual process of figuring out the baggage. Finding a place for it, getting it settled and then less and less checking on all of the bits. Narrowing down where the sticking points are and finding ways to break through.

Other than working with my Therapist, what else have I been doing to move myself forward?

I’ve continued with my personal trainer and gym that I started just before my pregnancy last year. I’ve not lost weight, I’ve actually put on weight since then; but I do have an emotional relationship with food. I’ve gotten stronger, dramatically in certain things. My arms and wrists are much much stronger than they used to be. My favourite Le Creuset pan is no longer too heavy for me to lift, and I can now hold it with one hand. I’ve used the gym sessions mainly for mental health. It’s been an hour 2-3 times a week where someone was telling me what to do, I didn’t have to think about anything much, and my body was pushed to new levels.

This me and my personal trainer Sahib from Limitless Health and Fitness

As I’ve worked through my emotions and anger at my body, I have been able to commit to taking more opportunities to do things that feel like self care for me – visiting my chiropractor more regularly, seeing a massage therapist on a few occasions (today included), connecting with a support group for mothers with anxiety and other mental health concerns, starting to see a reflexologist, seeing an oral hygienist.

I also did the Bereavement Doula course that I had asked for assistance with. Although I’m still not ready to support a family one on one, I learned a lot about how to deal with my own feelings, as well as developed more of a community to assist women experiencing difficulties that I have been through. With the other ladies in the group, I helped to organise the Durban Walk of Remembrance.

Through these various places I’ve found ways of acknowledge the ways I’ve let my body down and punished it for things that were never DONE TO ME, but were rather things that HAPPENED TO ME. I think when, we go through traumatic events and emotionally taxing times, we tend to feel that there must be a cause and effect. That there must be something I did to deserve this bad thing. The truth is that stuff happens, often for no real reason, and often for reasons out of our control. Being able to come to terms with this, has been the only way for me to acknowledge the need to treat my body better.