Yes, I grieved.

November 28, 2012 mommytoaheartkid

As many of the people reading this know, I’m a first semester student nurse.  This week we covered end of life care, and grief and bereavement.  

We were assigned a video on YouTube to watch to prep for our lecture on this topic.  (I’d post the link, but it’s a lecture, and it’s long and painful, but if you’re super interested, post a comment and I will share the link! ;]) Of course, we were talking about end of life care, but on this video, this professor, had the BEST definition of grief I’ve ever heard.  I won’t quote him word for word, but he expressed that grief does NOT always mean that you lost SOMEONE to death.  It is a loss.  A loss that requires grief work.  You can grieve for the loss an idea, a new diagnosis, a thought, a perception.  And do you know what’s even better?  My teacher (who actually gave MY class this lecture on end of life care) kept up with this concept.  

I know, and I want to acknowledge that I know–there is a difference between GRIEF and BEREAVEMENT.  Grief is mourning a loss, it’s process.  Bereavement is more traumatic.  It is definite.  It is on-going.  

But, for the first time today I felt UNDERSTOOD when I raised my hand and told my teacher, “I appreciated this professor’s definition of grief.  No one seems to understand that you can grieve even when you haven’t physically LOST a PERSON.”

I went on to explain….

“I had to GRIEVE the health of my daughter.  She was born with a heart defect.  I have to GRIEVE the fact that she was not “perfect”, she wasn’t born healthy, she will face surgeries, the future is uncertain for her.  I had to GRIEVE that I couldn’t bring home my perfect, healthy baby, because that wasn’t the case.  I had to GRIEVE that I couldn’t take her home and cuddle her and breast feed her and do all the normal thing that a new mom wants to do with their new baby.”

And for the first time, I had TWO nurses, TWO professors, TWO medical professionals nodding right back at me, “Yes, you DID have to grieve.  You are right.  Grief is not all about death, it is a loss.”  

I know I’ve talked about my journey with grief about Ava’s health before.  But today, my grief was VALIDATED.  It’s liberating.  Really. 

I worked through my grief for a LONG time.  Honestly, almost 2 and a half years.  I was mad.  I wondered, “why me, why her?” I was mad at “God.”  I was mad at the Dr’s.  I bargained–“Please just let her heart grow to be normal during the rest of my pregnancy.” (I knew this wasn’t possible, but in grief you do and think and say “weird” things.) I was GUILTY.  Boy, was I guilty.  “What did I do?  What’s wrong with me?  Why can’t I just make a healthy baby like EVERY other woman can?”  I was depressed, I cried from the day I found out about her heart defect (at 19 weeks pregnant) right through my delivery and beyond.  And finally, I accepted it.  This is her life.  This is our reality.  It just is. 

But my point is really this….  Don’t take away from someone’s grief.  And people grieve for ALL kinds of different things.  YES, I KNOW how lucky I am to have Ava here with me, but it doesn’t mean I’m not sad/mad/upset/guilty/sorry for her/about the situation.  Don’t tell me I didn’t grieve, I did.  And please don’t tell anyone that it isn’t valid for them to grieve.  It is a process, it is ALL yours, it’s your experience, and you will grieve how you need to and when you need to.  

And above all, EVERYTHING you feel/think IS valid.  It is yours.  No one can take that from you.  Ever.  


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