26 March, 2013

Two lives lost, or one life lived?

I was thinking, as I was responding to a blog comment elsewhere, how differently I feel about having no kids today, than I did even five years ago, let alone nine-ten years ago when it was all so raw.  Yes, I've mentioned before I'm sure age has a lot to do with it, but the old cliche is true.  Time really does heal.

And letting this happen is really important. Reading other blogs and comments, and in the years where I volunteered on a pregnancy loss website, I have seen so many women who have pushed against the idea of acceptance and healing.  I have seen them stamp their feet, as I have done at times too, determined not to like their new lives, determined to keep trying or keep grieving, terrified that acceptance means forgetting.  And so they haven't healed.  And they wonder why they are so angry, so bitter, so stuck.  Yet I doubt they could articulate that, filled as they are with so much grief and anger and turmoil.  And so they stay stuck, often for years.  I'm not saying we shouldn't be angry.  Anger is part of grieving.  But we need to move on to the next stage.  I wish I could hug them and tell them it really will be okay.  Tell them that they don't need to stay angry. That it is okay to heal.

Anger only eats you up.  It's a negative emotion that turns on us.  It achieves nothing else.  I mean, it's not even as if there is anyone we can be angry at, is there?  After all, there is no-one to blame.  (And what would that achieve after all?) Healing means eventually letting go of the anger,and letting go of the anger and bitterness means acceptance can take its place. And acceptance is healing, and healing is acceptance.  Healing takes time.  You can't one day decide not to be angry and wake up the next morning feeling healed.  (Oh, if only it worked that way!) But it opens the door, and lets some light in, so that healing can occur.  Healing doesn't mean forgetting.  Ever.  But it does make remembering easier.

And acceptance isn't a betrayal of what I wanted, or a denial of the love I felt (ever so briefly - yet lasting a lifetime) for the babies I lost.  Acceptance is simply an acknowledgement that this is my life now.  And accepting and embracing my life now just means that I'm accepting and embracing my life now.  It doesn't mean anything more, or less.  If anyone reads more into it than that, then we all have a good reason to get angry!

The alternative - not accepting or embracing our lives now - would be just too sad.  It would be as if we lost two lives.  The one we hoped for and the one we have.  And that is too awful to contemplate.  And if you're going to be angry, then maybe that's what you should be angry about, rather than the loss of the future you (and I) couldn't have.  Me?  I'm not going to waste any more time on anger.  I'm going to live what's left of the rest of my life. 


  1. Oh, amen!

    This reminds me of the saying that holding a resentment is like taking poison and waiting for someone else to die.

    I went down that path of bitterness after a major loss in the past. Because it happened so suddenly, like falling off a cliff, I was able to see what a dead end lay ahead and throw my arms out instinctively toward anyone or anything that could help me stay upright.

    That taste I had was enough. Whatever the alternative is, there MUST be one that’s better. The tricky part is that anger sometimes serves a purpose. It can give us energy, help us work toward healthy things and stay away from unhealthy ones. But when anger sits around long enough, at some point it hardens into bitterness, which is purely a dead end.

    I’m still trying to figure out just where that point is, and searching for ways to keep the anger “fluid” -- that’s the word that comes to mind -- in order to move through it like you have described.

    1. Yes! But my only warning is not to turn the anger in on yourself.

  2. Someone very wise once told me that the reason me hold onto our anger is that it gives us the illusion of power. Anger motivates. Anger makes people forces to be reckoned with. Yet anger also limits us. To hold onto anger means we can't move forward.

    This post is a powerful reminder of that. As you said so elegantly, letting go of anger is important in order to start living again. Such a hard thing to do, but so necessary as the cost is to lose two lives, not one.

    Thank you for this. I needed it today.

  3. Such a spiritual post, Mali. This is something I have been repeating to myself like a mantra over the last few months. I don't have it down pat, but I feel I'm getting there. Far more content these days than I have been in the past few years, far better sleep, too.

  4. This is such an important post and I'm so glad that you wrote it. I just hope that the people who need to read it find it and read it and GET IT. Thank you for this.

  5. VERY beautiful post, Mali. :-)))

    I wrote a post script below my last post about the importance of letting go over and over and over again. Without letting go of all the things that you need to let go (that you can't change/fix anyway), healing won't start 'coz it'll be a vicious cycle round and round and round and round. I think it'd help, too, if the people around us recognize that letting go doesn't mean giving up. :-)

  6. dear Mali,
    beautifully written.
    I couldn't agree more... with every single sentence.