Earlier this week I re-posted an old blog post – A Note to New Grievers. When I wrote the post I was in a very different place than I am now. I wrote the post in 2013. Ten years after my sister’s murder. 3 years before my twins died.
When I stumbled on it again it was like reading one of those time-capsule letters. You know, the ones you used to write and bury for your future self?
I found myself reading the lines:
“I can attest that it (grief) will change, it will become bearable, and you will change with it. The suffering of it will end. There will be days that your heart wrenches when you wish they were present to experience a piece of life with you - but eventually those will be mere moments in the scope of your life. You will not be crippled by this painful loss – not permanently.”
And thinking – is that true? Did I really feel that pulled back together?
I miss my sister, Rachael, even now... well, especially now. Whenever things get really hard I miss her extra. I wonder about where she would be on the journey to making a family. I wonder how she would hold my hand through this.
But, I’ve grown accustomed to missing her. It’s woven into the fabric of my daily life. I know how to miss her and move through the rest of my life.
The twins … I can’t breathe sometimes I miss them so much. The weight of their loss sits like an anvil on my chest. It feels crippling. It feels life altering. It feels … like this is the new forever.
But what if my former words are true?
What if this too will fold in, become part of who I am, and I will move again with ease?
What if the longing and the missing become less?
No … I will always long, I will always miss.
Just as I do Rachael, but more.
More because your children come from the most intimate parts of your heart.
Because your children have true pieces of you.
Because losing them is legitimately losing part of yourself.
I’ve been reading through countless grief sites. Story after story about loss and living without your children. Stories about infertility struggles. Stories about kissing infants goodbye and holding funerals for children. Stories about how people overcome or learn to live again.
I’m devouring these stories. I want to know about the men and women who went before me. I want to know how the grief settles. I want to see the beauty in the terrible wreckage.
The end of A Note To New Grievers recounts the Anne Frank quote:
“Think of all the beauty still around, and be happy.”
So here it is (for now) some of the beautiful things I have seen in this painful time:
Five things for now. I’ll do my best to keep my eyes open for more – even if I see it through the cloud of tears – I’ll look for the beauty for my babies. I'm not quite at the "be happy" part yet. But, I’ll look for it because their lives brought joy, and they are the most beautiful thing of all.
I started this blog a few years ago. We were approaching the ten-year anniversary of my sister’s death. Rachael’s absence and the way in which we integrate the loss into our lives has been a defining characteristic of my family. We don’t accept that she is gone, however we have learned ways in which to thrive despite not having her here everyday. When my husband’s mother died she made sure to teach each of us how to die with hope and grace. Her legacy further encouraged my ideas about grief – it is connected to the amount of love we have and love does not end after death. The goal of Loss and Life was to explore these thoughts and to hopefully share with others ways in which to live after loss.
Of course, as with all things extracurricular, my blog took a back seat as I worked my way through my MSW and the beginning part of my PhD program. But I am back today … today it has been four weeks since my precious twins were born too early to survive in this world. My son and my daughter – a most harrowing loss.
I’ve wanted to be a mother since before I was 10 years old. When asked what do you want to be when you grow up, I would respond “a mother and a writer.” My own mother tells the story of me coming home from second grade convinced that I was pregnant with a miracle since my teacher had been blessed with a miracle baby. To be a mom has been the deepest yearning of my soul.
A little over 8 years ago, I experienced a first trimester miscarriage – a blighted ovum. At the time the loss felt very big but it was also the first time since my sister had passed that I felt hope. I was reminded during that brief pregnancy period that I wanted life. However, many things surrounding that circumstance were not right. I was told repeatedly “at least you know you can get pregnant.”
Fast forward to marrying the right guy and trying to get pregnant – not quite so easy. The infertility battle itself is full of grief. We spent our first year of marriage trying to fight infertility. Finally, after a successful IVF attempt we were blessed with two perfect babies. They had no chromosomal problems, they were growing perfectly, and each and every ultrasound we were able to distinguish their emerging personalities. I bought a home heart rate monitor and listened to them every night. We began purchasing all of the items for their nursery and to care for them. To say that we were excited does not begin to cover it. I have never in my life been as happy as when I was carrying those two babies, married to the man of my dreams. All of this was done while still working as a therapist and pursuing a PhD to research grief. My life finally felt like it was reaching its purpose.
The birth and death of my son and my daughter has shifted me. This time though I have all the information about grief, I have an internal therapist telling me what’s normal and how to be gentle with myself, and I still have an incredible support system. None of that changes the feeling of waking up each morning empty and longing for the children we tried so desperately to bring in this world though. Despite all the knowledge I can’t stop being angry at my body for failing me, again.
So I am back here, writing. After we lost Rachael I threw myself into creative writing. Before the loss I had done journalistic writing. As a kid I wanted to write children’s books. In the last few years I have been writing research. So here I am writing again in hopes to somehow work through this pain.
Hi, I'm Tiffany. I believe in the power of stories to connect us to each other. I write about life after loss and all the love, longing, and learning that comes from it. Grief is big, love is bigger. My newest stories are about motherhood (after both infertility and loss). In my experience, love doesn't get bigger than motherhood.
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