Tyranny of Pink

Like waves on the shore…the tides of grief

Like waves on the shore…the tides of grief

Like waves on the shore…the tides of grief

When grief has touched your heart, you change!

You let go of a lot but you also take on so much more. You worry more, you panic more frequently, everything is more terrifying than it used to be. And then one day you have a child and suddenly you transfer all your emotions and all your baggage onto him. On to that little person who has no baggage.

And people tell you to let him play when he gets a little too close to the edge and you want to. You want to trust that he will be okay but the truth is, you know death a little too well.

You know the consequences of “letting him play” and you know what happens when you let go.

I can’t be that mother. Carefree and aloof. Instead, I am ever worried and ever panicked. Sometimes my heart slows down a little to a regular heartbeat and it feels so good. It feels so god damn good. But then the moment passes and I’m worried again – consumed with guilt and panic.

Because WHAT IF something happens.

WHAT IF something goes wrong. And I could have been the one to prevent things.

My son’s birth was a beautiful mess. He was born and in that space, I nearly lost gave my own life in exchange for his. Because I believe that a beautiful part of life is that when someone dies, another person is born to fill the space. It’s a twisted bitter-sweet part of fate. In the days shortly after my son was born, I woke up in ICU to news that my grandfather had died. Perhaps in someway, it was always meant to be. Perhaps it was just a coincidence but in my heart – I felt like the world had traded one life for another. Like he had given his, for me.

About a week ago, I was minding my own business scrolling through Instagram when a blogger I follow had shared her sympathies for an Australian mother who had just lost her son. “Forever three, forever free” read the caption. Three year olds should not die. He had been so excited about his new bedding and said to his mother “I can’t wait to sleep in my new bedding mommy” and forty minutes later he was dead.

He choked on a fucking bouncy ball and died in her arms.

I couldn’t breathe. I could not stop thinking about this woman. Who had woken up that day like any other and the day had passed as normal. In minutes her life had changed. In minutes, his life was over. How fucking unfair is this world? Three year olds should not be dying.

“Grief is the price we pay for love.”

–Queen Elizabeth II

The day before, my own child had been playing with a bouncing ball. A ball he proudly announced was “tiny” and I thought nothing of it. Well that ball is now in the bin.

Every single day children die and we can’t possibly protect them from everything. There’s always some sort of risk of something happening.

We always think “it won’t happen to me,” until it does.

My therapist tells me that she doesn’t think I’ve grieved the loss of my grandfather – not really – because I’ve spent so much of the last two and a half years overwhelmed with my own life. First, my own near death coupled with being a new mom, and now, our move to New Zealand and the never ending shit show that is this paperwork.

I don’t think I know HOW to grieve really. I’m one of those people that sucks it up and carries on. I fight through the tears and I keep going and people call me strong when half the time I feel like I can’t deal with the world.

Today I found out that my friend lost his son. It’s not my story to share but my heart shattered for them.

Losing the people I love has taught me one thing – grief is fucking cruel. I don’t know what it must feel like to lose a child but I’ve watched my own family fall apart from the loss of a child and I know that grief is not something you ever really come back from.

You think you’re fine but suddenly the waves wash over you and you feel like you’re drowning. It literally feels like you can’t breathe. Like there is no oxygen coming into your lungs. But then the moment passes and you’re okay again. Without warning the waves keep coming.

“I should know enough about loss to realize that you never really stop missing someone-you just learn to live around the huge gaping hole of their absence.”

–Alyson Noel, Evermore

I don’t want to be the kind of mother that bubble wraps her child and keeps him from exploring the world but I don’t know how to let go. I try so hard but I am constantly terrified about what could happen.

What an awful prison to live in. Trapped by the things that could happen…

I don’t know how to be better. I don’t know how to live without grief at the steering wheel. I want to just let go. I want to be over it.

Instead, I sit here. Trapped. Drowning in my own paranoid fear.

Because until you have experienced grief, intimately, you don’t know what this feels like. You don’t know.

Like waves on the shore…the tides of grief

I wish I knew how to truly grieve.

I don’t. I don’t know how to let go and move on. I don’t know how to stop being so fearful of when death will next visit.

All I know is how to cope. Every single day with this feeling that never really goes away. With every passing moment, you simply learn how to smile through the tears and swallow them down. You learn to say I’m fine when someone asks how you are. You learn to shut up. To carry on. You let your grief fall deeper and deeper into the depths. But it’s always there – eating away from the inside.

I don’t know how to grieve and let go. I’m afraid that if I let myself be really and truly sad – I’ll never get back up. So instead, I write away the pain. Like waves washing over me… until it gets easier to go on.

“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” Vicki Harrison

***Photos taken as part of the Roses for Thorns series

8 thoughts on “Like waves on the shore…the tides of grief”

  1. You write about it so well Jonelle… it comes and goes like waves and you never know when it will hit, the simplest thing can remind you. Like a thought and then there are tears. And then you carry on as normal. I am still angry about the way my dad died, and the way he had to suffer, and I miss him. But I also get distracted by life and carry on. It just sneaks up on me sometimes.

    1. Thank you Heather! It’s true, the tiniest things can be triggers. Grief is so hard to live with and yet somehow we have to just do what needs to be done. I’m sorry your dad’s death has left you with these feelings – I am angry with my dad himself every day for not wearing his seatbelt and that angry feeling often feels so infuriating because I can’t do anything about it. Thanks for your very honest comment Heather! xoxo

  2. I don’t think I have grieved properly after losing my father. At times I will sit by myself when missing him and the tears will flow. I then pick myself up and get on with life. With all the beautiful positive changes that are taking place in my life, it never feels complete without him there. That gaping hole will never be filled. I will always have a part of me missing. Thank you for the powerful and honest post.

    1. It’s so hard to really let go of your parent dying. I find myself in the same position as you – tears flowing without even realising and then I notice I had been thinking about him. “I will always have a part of me missing” Yes, absolutely this. Forever it feels like he’s missing from a world that he should be a part of. Thank you for reading and for your very heartfelt comment.

  3. I can relate on so many levels to this post. Really close to me, I’ve ‘only’ lost my dad. BUt I was 25 and just finding my way in life. I said goodbye after supper on Wednesday….on Thursday I was supposed to pop in at home, but I was studying for an honours exam (shame trying to be smarty pants also 😉 ) so I sent my husband to drop something off with my dad (gaviscon, he thought he had heartburn….). Thursday evening he died very unexpectedly. He was 51 and I told myself, that’s longer than some people get, but still….I realised that day that you don’t get second chances and goodbyes.

    I stop breathing sometimes worrying about all the things that can happen to my kids. Adam is a kid that wants to push boundaries…hence the stint in the pool at 16m (that has caused a whole new level of pool anxiety) so everyday I just pray…don’t kill yourself. Be careful. You don’t need to explore every single inch of this planet.

    I worry about kidnapping, falling, accidentally reversing over them…. My husband tells me this anxiety and paranoia is no way to live… I wish I had his peace and rationale…but I don’t. Every night I wait for crime and death…. picturing how my life will go on if this one dies, that one dies. Would I kill myself?? Would I not? It’s exhausting and emotionally draining to live this way…… *sigh* The trigger was definitely losing my father.

    I need wine now Jonelle! And tissues!

    1. I read this and I was about to leave the house. My damn make up was nearly all down my face and then I literally couldn’t deal until today! The morning my dad had his car accident, he called me. I was sitting in my car as I’d just arrived at varsity and he was telling me off for not calling him to ask about his medical test results (he hadn’t been feeling well) and I apparently was a terrible daughter for not asking if he got his results back. Then he told me I need to download this new thing called Skype so we can video call. Later that morning I sent him a text asking him to please send me some money for something. I still don’t know if those are the last words he ever read from me. It’s funny because obviously in those moments we don’t know any better but I wish life came with some sort of warning. I tell Oden fifty times a day I love him more than anything because I’m so scared of what life throws my way. I really understand how you feel. Your husband is right – it isn’t any way to live but it’s IMPOSSIBLE to stop feeling that way. Losing your dad when you’re that young is HARD! FUCK!! I’m sorry that you get it! I need wine now and it’s bloody Monday morning lol

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