These prompts came from a ‘Releasing 2015’ worksheet from Crazy Good Grief. It suggested reflecting on the following topics as a way of letting go of the past year and continuing in a healing direction. This is probably even duller than my other posts for others to read – it was more for me, sorry if it’s totally tedious! Feel free to borrow the questions though!
What were you blessed with in 2015?
As I’ve said before, the last six months of my pregnancy with Isobel were for the most part incredibly joyous. Of course it’s harder to think about blessings from after Isobel died.
I’m thankful that were able to have a beautiful humanist funeral for Isobel and choose somewhere picturesque for her to be buried. I’m glad that Simon shares my lack of religious belief. I can’t tolerate religion and can’t imagine being in a relationship with someone who believes in a god. I’m grateful that I have a job which allowed me to take two months maternity leave and four months sick leave on full pay, with colleagues who have been nothing but understanding and supportive.
Mostly I’ve been blessed with love and support from people. My mum and my sister have been amazing particularly, as someone who would have tended to rely on friends rather than family this has been a pleasant revelation. I have one group of best friends that I did my doctorate with thus they are all psychologists – collectively and individually they have cried with me, made me laugh and disgusted me with dirty sex talk on our what’s app group! I honestly don’t know where I’d be without them. My other group of best friends are a little less psychologically minded but they have been wonderful too, arranging afternoon teas and cinema trips and most recently and unexpectedly contributing to the cost of Isobel’s headstone.
I wouldn’t consider Simon and I to be one of the couples that I read about who are stronger after the loss of a child. We have really struggled and still do. But I am thankful that I have an emotionally intelligent husband who is not afraid to show that he has been broken by our daughter’s death and who can talk with me about our challenges. He comes to the support group and the psychologist with me and I know not all partners are able to do that.
My greatest blessing since losing Isobel has been falling pregnant again. It’s been so difficult and anxiety provoking that I know I haven’t been seeing it as a blessing. However if this pregnancy has a positive outcome it will be the greatest gift anyone has been given.
What actions have you taken to promote healing?
- Writing this blog and sharing a little on FB
- Seeing the psychologist in the maternity hospital
- Attending SANDS parent support groups
- Connecting with other bereaved parents online
- Participating in Capture Your Grief
- Ways of incorporating Isobel’s memory at home – pictures, candle, decorations at Christmas
- Sharing with friends when struggling or if something has upset me
- Starting to run and do yoga again (sadly both abandoned when I found out I was pregnant)
- Reading novels
- Meditating (occasionally)
How did you change this year?
I’m still unfortunatly at the stage (at least I hope it’s a stage!) where all the changes I can see in myself are negative ones. I am experiencing anxiety symptoms that I’ve never felt before. I am much more judgemental and less tolerant of others – strangers and friends. I am quicker to anger and feel less in control of my actions when I’m angry. I can’t have a fight with Simon without thinking we are heading towards divorce – in fact I think pretty catastrophically about most things. I find it hard to be happy for other people especially in relation to fertility and pregnancy. I am struggling to accept my body and I take much less care of it than I used to. I sleep poorly. I’m worried about how all these changes affect my ability to be a good wife and friend, to be a good psychologist and mostly to be a good mother if I am lucky enough to get the chance to raise a baby.
What are your strengths and greatest assets?
I think I’m quite good at accepting my emotional state for whatever it is, and for letting thoughts come and go without too much judgement. I don’t tend to dwell on guilt or self blame for Isobel’s death.
I’ve been able to express many of my thoughts and feelings with words, either through talking to people or writing. I’m getting better at reaching out when I need help.
I think I’ve been brave and resisted avoiding things that are hard, even visiting babies and listening to a friend talk about her labour experience. I’ve tried to participate in normal life as much as possible, to go out and see friends even when I haven’t wanted to.
I’ve faced the challenge of a new pregnancy head on and ensured I have all the right medical support which was harder than it may sound! I’ve learned to inject myself daily and am putting up with a bruised tummy in the hopes that it will help save this baby.
How have you been able to forgive yourself, others, and your loved one this year?
I try to practice compassion towards myself and others. If I notice myself thinking self-critical thoughts I acknowledge them but I let them go. I know that I did the best I could do and made all the best decisions I could at the time. With others I ‘choose to hear love’ when people get it wrong and remind myself of their good intentions or more recently (if I think it will be helpful) I tell them how they’ve made me feel in a non-confrontational way. It’s interesting to consider forgiving Isobel. I do think I’ve experienced thoughts of anger towards her for not being born earlier or letting me know something was wrong. As with the thoughts of blaming myself, I notice them but don’t get stuck on them. I think my natural rationality helps here, thoughts like that simply don’t make any sense.
Are there actions/behaviours that you engaged in that were harmful or hurtful to yourself or others?
Generally I feel that my coping responses have been pretty adaptive. Since falling pregnant again though I have been really physically lazy! At the beginning I was scared to move while the pregnancy was establishing itself. Now it’s just pure laziness. I know I need to start moving again and try and get my body in the best condition possible for labour and post-baby recovery. Similarly with food I am trying to eat good food for the baby but I am eating way too much junk in addition to the good food!
There have been a couple of times where I’ve not been proud of my actions when angry. Once I threw my phone against the wall in a momentary rage, something that was so unlike me and really took me by surprise. Another time I kicked over the clothes horse and washing! Expressing my anger in a physical way has never been my style and it’s something I don’t want to see continue.
What do you need to release and let go of to move towards 2016?
I know I need to let go of my fear that this baby will die and begin to attach to this pregnancy. When there is a realistic chance this baby will die though I don’t know how I can do that.
I need to let go of my cares about what other people think of my getting pregnant again so quickly and what this says about how I’m grieving for Isobel. I know that my love for Isobel will not be left behind regardless of what happens in 2016.
I need to accept where Simon is in his grief for Isobel and that he is not able to be excited about this pregnancy either. Although I feel the same, this response in him can annoy me and I wish one of us were positive and enthusiastic but I have to accept that neither of us are just now.
I think I have to let go too of my desire to grieve perfectly, linearly and quickly and accept that my grief will be messy and there’s no way to rush it.
So that’s it! According to Crazy Good Grief I am a beautiful healing warrior goddess. So I’m going to go with that! Love to all my fellow beautiful healing warrior goddesses x