When Simon and I were told that Isobel would be stillborn, and in the days and weeks that followed, so many of our conversations started with “Is it weird that…” or “Is it wrong that…” We were second guessing all of our thoughts, feelings and desires, not knowing what made sense in a senseless situation, what was normal in this abnormal circumstance. Being able to articulate and expose the strangest parts of our experience helped us to see that if we were insane, at least it was a shared insanity. I have come now to accept that whatever I feel is normal and ‘ok’ and have less of this need for checking. I have been through an extreme trauma and a profound loss, it is only to be expected that I react in traumatised and lost ways.
Once I would have imagined that having the worst happen would mean that nothing else seems so bad, instead I find myself waiting with bated breath for the next worse thing to happen. I sense the grim reaper hovering and wonder who is going to die next, and how I will cope. I have to normalise my grief not just for Isobel, but for the old me. The me who was generally optimistic and expected life to work out ok. The me who’s core beliefs have been demolished. The me who had never experienced significant anxiety or panic. I have to normalise my grief for my husband, replaced in his devastation by a short-fused, angry man, and I grieve as I long for our easy relationship. I normalise my grief for the thousands of tiny things that used to be easy that are now huge challenges.
I tell myself that, for now, it is perfectly ok not to feel ok.
Image from ‘The Little Book of Resilience’ by Matthew Johnstone.