I have another blog about baby loss.
On it, I write about life after our loss, the emotions surrounding the pain of losing our twin daughters, and the memorial artwork I create for people who have also lost their little ones.
Our identical twins, Fiona and Brigid, died from complications due to something called Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, almost five years ago now. The pain from that experience was excruciating. It left us raw and broken, and feeling more vulnerable than we had ever felt. But it also sort of stripped us down to the bare-bones essentials of life and left us re-evaluating everything – relationships, priorities, our faith. Some things we needed to let go of and other things required us to cling harder to them.
Priorities and relationships that were not healthy before our loss, we simply did not have the energy to maintain afterward. Our faith was strengthened and we clung to it like our lives depended on it. (They did.) That and another traumatizing event that happened around the same time to one of my children left us reeling with deep wounds and a lot of grief. I wanted to move my whole family into a bunker, so we would be safe and never have to interact with the world again. But that wasn’t realistic. Or healthy.
I also carried with me some wounds from a dysfunctional and unhealthy childhood family and never knew where to begin to heal those. I felt like I was fundamentally flawed and had no idea how to fix myself to become acceptable to others. To become loved for who I am by a parent consumed with a mental illness who treated me poorly but told me the problem was me.
But I’ve since learned the truth. And one day, about a year after our loss, I looked in the mirror and saw myself with new eyes. I saw in my own face the person I was inside – under the sadness and the pain and the weight I have carried around for years – and I made that person a promise. I told her I’d get her out of there. That it might take years to do, but I would do whatever work I needed to do to get her out and let her be the beautiful, whole, fulfilled person she was created to be.
A few years down the road now, I am doing that work. I am practicing self care. I am learning how to be vulnerable and authentic. I’m trusting the Lord with all my heart and leaning not on my own understanding. I am doing what I love and loving what I do. I’m still healing and learning, but I’m doing the work and I can feel it paying off. When you have so many little ones around needing to draw on your strength and energy, it’s imperative that you take the time to care for yourself and to refill and recharge so that you can give some more.
I started a series called Taking Flight on my other blog about healing, but I think this might be a better place for it. Sometimes when you’re still raw and new to grief, the last thing you want to hear about is moving on from it. You need to go through it to be able to move on and it takes time. No matter what you’re healing from, it takes time. So little by little I’ll be moving those posts over to this blog so that they can have their own space, and I can remain sensitive to those who are new in their losses.
One day maybe they will join us here, too.
Update: In early 2020, after a personal encounter with Our Lady of Sorrows, I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to begin an apostolate ministry for grieving mothers. That ministry is called Present in the Pain. Click here to learn more about my prayer book and healing retreats for grieving mothers.