I’ve thought a lot about how I handle this Almost Fatherhood and what I want out of my grief process.
Wait, what? You’ve never thought about it like that? Oh surrrre, you can absolutely get things out of grief. For example, we go to funerals and memorials to share memories with people whose hearts had been touched both by a person’s presence and their absence. We look for peace in places of brokenness and tend to find it one way or another, it’s just easier when that person has led a full (or at least longer) life. In our weakest moments, we yell, scream, stew, and destruct to release frustration and tension. We’re all looking for some sense of peace.
But what about when it’s your child that died? How do you find peace in that?
Answer: you evolve.
We have to establish a new normal on this side of parenthood and it takes time to learn how to function in a world that looks like this. Sometimes it takes finding groups of people who do crafts and memorial activities together or meeting for coffee every once in a while, where peace means knowing someone understands like you do. Other times – in my world – it means going for a bike ride or building something. Lately, though, I’ve been thinking in longer terms, where it’s more about my long-term impact. I’m a person who needs to have a heartful connection and it just isn’t there right now. My work – while (mostly) consistent and important to my community – doesn’t hit me anywhere CLOSE to my feels. I’ve been drawn to helping people through child loss somehow.
Maybe it’ll be in my off-time or maybe it’ll come in a career shift, but the point is I’ll never know if I’m not open to where life is taking me. I think a lot about what happens when I don’t feel the need to write any more about Jonah and Luke, specifically if I’ll be ok with not helping people through writing, and if I’m fully honest I don’t think I’m ok with that. I’m built for more than this. But the longer I stay in the same place, grieving the lives that I don’t get to see and angry at the world for dealing me this hand, the longer everything goes on without me. Carrying my children with me has led me this far and I’ll be damned if I can’t take them with me.
What I want out of my grief process is to let my children make me better. I want it to change me in ways I would never have had the chance to without having been through this absolutely ridiculous course of events, and I want to make the lives of other people better because I was strong enough to look at this heartache and choose to be fully engaged in it. There certainly are times where I’m bitter and angry, but I have made the active decision time and again to sit in it, give it the time it needs, and then take another step.
So I’m looking forward with an open, though heavy, heart. I’m curious to see what is coming down the road but I’m doing my best to let them be the ones to lead me there. My boys know what’s in my heart, and they’ll be the ones to help me find a deeper level of peace. But there’s a question in all of this that needs to be answered:
What are you doing that is holding yourself back?
If you’re afraid of the unknown, you might as well stop now because we can’t control any of this. And if you’re hoping for it to get easier, your best chance is to stay where it’s comfortable – just know that you can’t grow where you’ve always been planted. So be honest with yourself and let it change you. Feel the sunshine on your face and know that you’re supposed to be there, at that moment. It’s time to move forward, one way or another. I hope you come with me.
Over two years without Jonah, over three without Luke… and they’re still holding me together. We miss you, boys. Love you always #TeamJonah