Fleeting (guilty) happiness.

Friday, 16 June 2017

The feeling of happiness after a loss is, contrary to popular belief, not an impossibility. It happens. But happiness is a peculiar emotion after a loss because no longer is it just happiness, it comes along with guilt. Pretty much every single time.



You feel guilty because you're happy, because you should be sad about the death of your baby – and that's not to say that you're not sad, but just that for one, small moment that sadness has been overshadowed with happiness for something.

After Ezra died I was given a puppy (Billy) to help deal with the loss and at the times I found myself playing with the dog, and enjoying him, laughing even, I was brought very quickly down to earth with that harsh reminder of what I was missing. As if my heart was not painful enough, not in enough pieces, I would not allow myself these fleeting moments of happiness because I didn't feel like I should have them. I didn't deserve them. And it's not uncommon at all.

Someone brought it up to me once, whether at times I just felt down for no reason, one minute happy and busy, but then a second later come crashing down. I reminded her that there wasn't "no reason" for it. We had the biggest, most valid reason. It's something I think quite a lot about as I try to assess my mental health (and basically self-diagnose). (It seems like I'm really good at giving advice but not so good at following it myself lmao.)

A lot of people say "Ezra would want you to..." and I have a really hard time getting my head around that because he's a baby. He doesn't know much about anything except eating, sleeping and doing his business. I know people mean well, but you know. It's a bit weird.

I have tried my best to let myself have these moments of happiness, when I feel my baby's kicks, each one reminds me of the son I no longer have, and yet reminds me of the life currently nestled in there. I remind myself that I am pregnant right now, today, this minute, and that I am going to enjoy that rather than forcing myself to think about all the ways it could go wrong. It's not the easiest thing to do and I still find myself wondering if I will wake up in the night to another life lost, or if it will be snatched away sometime before then. I wonder if I'll make it through that, or if I'd even want to. But I've come to realise there's nothing I can do about it right now. But each little kick and each little thought of the future comes hand in hand with what could go wrong, and with what's missing. It's literally impossible to separate them. I think of her in there, and I think that her brother shared that space, she and her brother have heard the same heart, shared the same space of my body. They'll share some clothes, a bed, but that's as far as it's going to go. Their lives will not cross, they will not meet. So I am grateful, and happy, and excited, but I'm sad about it, too, I feel guilty. I remember that little Baby B wouldn't be in existence if everything hadn't gone to shit.

There was a time where I literally thought I would never, ever be happy again, where I thought that that light had been extinguished and that was that. I was doomed to live this terrible way forever. That's something that does come back more often than I'd like to admit and I find myself thinking that not living would be easier. People say, quite often, "you're so strong" but in reality what other option do I, we, have? We continue and we persist, or we don't and we expire. It's really as simple as that. The act of continuing requires less activity than not. However, there are times where I accept that, and I think yes, I am strong, and I have been through the shits. I want to shout it at people and tell them that they have no idea what I've been through.

But this, I believe, is simply just a "new normal" – the sadness will never go away, one just becomes accustomed to its presence. Often the "black dog" metaphor is used to represent depression (which I don't quite agree wth because black dogs get enough bad press ey), but I think that for many this black dog is something one works on getting rid of, whereas those of us that have experienced this kind of loss instead learn to live with it.

Let's, instead, use it to represent our grief. It's huge. It's a tiger. It sits in our laps and we're not used to that. It crushes us, we can't breathe and we don't want to deal with it. We push it away and we don't want to look at it, don't want to think about it, but it's there, regardless, and we feed it and we water it every day, all the time. Then weeks pass and we become used to its weight, it no longer crushes us as it once did. Its weight hasn't changed but we're just used to it. And then, soon enough, we have lived with it for long enough that we learn to plan our steps around it. We're not tripping over it anymore, it's not so much in the way as it was when it appeared. We have learned that it doesn't need to be fed, but it will come for us when it wants feeding, and we can do it, or not do it. It's quiet, and it comes and goes. It pads alongside us all through life whether we see it and engage it or not, and, for me, I think it helps me to feel closer to my baby sometimes.

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