Thursday, November 14, 2013

How do you reconcile joy and grief?

It's November now.  And we're about a MONTH from meeting Luke's little sister...a baby who I'm not sure we'd be having had it not been for Luke's death. 

One year ago, I was in the depths of despair.  The freshness of losing Luke was so raw and new and I didn't understand it or know how to deal with it.

There are still some times when I feel like what happened to us wasn't real.  Like it was something I watched happen in a movie or a terrible TV show or to someone else.  In so many ways, it still feels unreal, to this day.

I wish it were true.

I wish what happened to us never had to happen to us.  I would be happy to have my 14-month-old son right now.  I'd be happy to not have had to travel this road of grief for the past year.  I'd be happy to not have to continue traveling it for the rest of my life.

I told myself that we'd always do what made us happy--when Luke died--to honor him.  I remember sitting in our bedroom with my sister a few days after his funeral, and making a promise to myself that I would do everything in my power to sell and move out of our condo within the next year.  BEING there made me unhappy.  It almost always had, but after losing him, it was the final straw.  And I'm proud to say that we did it--We sold that place. We're in a much happier place right now.  A place where I have hope, AND where our neighbors aren't terrible people.

And we said the same thing about trying for another baby...that we'd like to get pregnant again as soon as we could, since there was no medical reason stopping us.  And by some grace of God, we did that too.

There's so much to be happy about.  And it gets in the way of grief.  That's where grief is tricky.  No matter what you have that makes you happy--that brings you joy--that you've wanted and yearned for for a long time--There's always something lurking in the background.  The sadness.  The grief.  The heaviness of everything you lost.

I have four weeks to go until we meet Luke's little sister.  I'm already scheduled for a c-section because, like her big brother, she's supposedly going to be be a big one.  I'm happy that this date is set in stone.  That I know the day that we get to meet her and start our lives together.  But it all circles back to thinking about Luke a lot of times.  About the day that we got to meet, but didn't get to live the rest of our lives together.  It makes me nervous.  And scared.  Deep down I know that everything will be fine this time.  And I know that there will be nothing else in the world that will feel the same as the second we hear this little girl cry for the first time.  I can't wait to finally get to experience that happiness.

But I grieve that I had to miss that happiness with Luke.

These past 8 months have been a ride.  I feel like I've been pregnant forever.  I sort of have been.  I hate how unfair it is that I'll have to have been pregnant 18 out of the past 24 months only to have one child here with me.  I hate coming to grips with that.  It will never be right and I'll never be OK with it. 

I hate that I'm only going to experience that feeling of extreme joy with just ONE of my children.  And I don't want the sorrow I feel for Luke to taint my experiences with Bowie.  But I know that's impossible.

Everytime I see Bowie smile.  Hear her laugh. See her roll over for the first time.  Crawl.  Walk.  Go off to Kingergarten.  High school.  College.  Get married.  I'll be forced to think about missing all of those things with Luke.  I'll be forced to wonder about him.  About what never was or can ever be.  And that will always hurt my heart. I know it will get easier with time (at least I hope it will), but the reality will always be there.

At the end of the day, I can't stay in the depths of my grief forever.  I choose not to.  I don't want to.  But that doesn't mean that I won't miss Luke every single day for the rest of my life.  Joy will have to learn to live with grief...and that's ok.


  1. Amazing words, Jen. Truly you are extraordinary.

  2. I will be thinking of you these next four weeks! It is a struggle for me to balance all of these emotions. I hope these next four weeks go by fast.

  3. Beautifully spoken and inspirational.

  4. You continue to amaze me. And while I still talk to Luke and capture sunsets for him, my heart is big enough for two. I love you!!!

  5. Experiencing both ends of the emotional spectrum, extreme grief and pure joy, has been confusing for me as well. I am full of more happiness than I thought was possible with my rainbow girl, while still in the depths of pure grief for the little girl who us gone. I just keep reminding myself that both feelings are ok and normal and healthy.