No-one ever told me that grief felt so like fear” – CS Lewis.

This quote was shared with me three years ago.  I’ve never forgotten it because it is so awfully true.  Nothing can prepare you for the fear that comes with grief.  It is a terror beyond anything I have ever known.    The moments after finding Ava, the knowing instantly that we would lose her, the waiting for 48 hours at the hospital until we did… and then facing a lifetime without her.   If I think of those early months, I think of being very, very afraid.   I hear myself saying “I’m just so scared that this is real“.   I simply couldn’t bare to imagine that this could not be fixed.   That we were actually living our worst nightmare.  The fear comes first, the missing comes later.

You never recover from the loss of a child“.  It was said often, back at the start.  To my newly grieving, terrified self, those words were unbearable.  I couldn’t fathom never recovering.   But I also couldn’t fathom life ever being any different.  Since then, I’ve  often pondered the notion of “recovered”.  What does that even mean?  That you should return to the griefless, untouched self you once were?  Well of course you don’t.  How can you hold your lifeless, adored, child and openly weep and beg God to give them back and not walk away changed?   You face overwhelming sadness throughout your every day and have to learn to incorporate it into a life that doesn’t like to pause for your grief.  Of course you are different.   But from a place of total devastation, you do somehow find a way to open your eyes and draw breath and face another day without your beautiful baby.   You even go on to work and socialize and plan a future.   Recovered?  I don’t know.   Altered?  Without doubt.

It’s clear I’ve learned a lot in three years.  I know that the suffocating grief does not stay forever, that it changes and the sadness becomes familiar.  I have found  peace with the un-happy parts of my life and my self.  If I had the choice to erase my grief, I wouldn’t.  If not for the sadness, then what?  It isn’t enough to just remember Ava with smiles and fond memories.   I need the tears.

On the harder days, I spend time with my missing.   I write.  I mourn.  I recall.  And if I pick up my camera,  how I feel becomes how I see.

I am no longer scared.

S x

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