Grief is strange. Time to hit publish….
Living through trauma may teach you resilience. It may help sustain you and others in times of crisis down the road. It may prompt humility. It may make for deeper seasons of joy. It may even make you stronger.
It also may not.
In the end, the hope of life after trauma is simply that you have life after trauma. The days, in their weird and varied richness, go on. So will you.– Catherine Woodiwiss
Written from the hospital parking lot….
I just tried to go see my friend’s baby and couldn’t do it. I thought I was at a point I could and I just can’t. I really really wanted to do that so badly. I’m so upset with myself for not being able to. I’ll never get that opportunity again. I’m still really angry and resentful and I didn’t realize it. Grief is so hard. 4 years later, 2 beautiful kids I get to hug each night, and here I am sitting in a parking lot bawling. They don’t tell you it will be like this.
Sitting in a parking lot bawling.
Immediate Thoughts: I want to go in. I love the mom. I love the dad. I can’t wait to love on their baby. How special I even get an invite like this. I can’t do it. I can’t see that place. I can’t experience watching someone leave with a baby. I thought it would make me happy to see happiness. I can’t see the happiness. I can only think of myself carrying an empty carseat (which is stupid I didn’t even have a car seat with Kellan.) What if I see the nurses from his birth? What if I see someone who doesn’t like me? What if I can’t stop crying? I don’t even care about that, but why can’t I stop crying? Why did Kellan die? Why did I deserve that? How do people do this? Am I crazy? Maybe I am?
I write these words, then drive out of the parking lot. I have 10 miles left of gas. I suck at getting gas. I drive to the gas station, park my car at a pump right on the busiest street in town and continue to bawl my eyes out. And then 5 minutes later I realize….this is grief. This is deep deep grief. My grief button has been hit hard.
I opened my car door with tears streaming down my face…..and walked right up to the gas pump to get gas. Go me. I then got back in my car and drove to the only spot that brings me any kind of comfort in moments like this.
The Bethlehem Lutheran Church parking lot.
For those who know me, this might be a weird spot. I’m not overly religious and I’m certainly not the first in line to go to church. But this is the place we had Kellan’s funeral and when I’m super upset, or need to reflect, I like to come here and just sit in my car and think. I feel like it helps bring me back to understanding what matters in life.
They probably think I’m a creep.
So as I sit here in the parking lot, (literally we are in this moment together right now) I’m realizing how foolish I am to have ever thought I was doing so well with Kellan’s death. I talk about grief all of the time, like I’m this fucking expert on how to manage it. I’m no expert, I’m just doing it day by day with all of you. Grief never ends. It’s not possible. There’s not a chance I can look back at anything I grieve and think genuinely….wow I am 100% healed from that. Easy peasy. What a joke.
It’s been 3 years, 9 months, 29 days, 3 hours, 8 minutes, 7 seconds since my precious Kellan entered this world.
45 months, 29 days, 3 hours, 8 minutes, 7 seconds
So I write, to show you, even 4 years later, it’s okay to not be okay.
I know I have so much to work on, and so much to grow on. But sometimes grief feels paralyzing. There’s so much to do, and it all feels impossible. I have a million pounds of weight on my chest and I can’t move. But I can move.
But everyone around sees me not answering phone calls quickly enough, or texts, or emails, or missing something. Sometimes a person just can’t….and then by the time they can….it’s incredibly overwhelming to work through or deal with.
Or the others around have lost patience and moved on. Because why would someone need patience or grace 4 YEARS LATER?! Yeah I wish I knew too. It fucking sucks.
So then what happens? People start talking badly about you. They forget all of the great things you have done and they forget how much love and kindness you have worked to give unconditionally. How easily it’s all forgotten. How easy to remember the failures.
And you know what’s really sad? How mean people are. How fake people are. How vindictive people are. I never realized it when I lived in a larger community. It was too big to ever feel those things from acquaintances. I get it now. I feel it now.
“Just be kind, you never know what someone else may be going through.”
It’s always been one of my favorite quotes. When did it stop occurring to others that maybe a person is going through something?
I wish if people wanted to talk about others…they’d just talk TO that person. If you have the courage to run your mouth about someone, have the courage to say it to that person. And don’t just say your thoughts, then run away and hide. Say it and listen to their response. If you can’t do that, then maybe keep your mouth shut? There’s a crazy idea.
Did it ever occur to others to check in and ask how a person is doing? Instead of just gossiping or talking about the person? How incredible this world would be if checking in with others was our first thought, instead of tearing them down with words to others about them.
I came to this parking lot today, like usual, to be alone with myself and my thoughts. To remind myself that life is so much more than the day to day bullshit. But as I sit here and wrap this up, I realize I am so angry. I don’t want to be angry, but man am I angry.
Angry at how selfish people can be. Angry at how mean people can be. Angry at how much time I’ve wasted on irrelevant things and thoughts, when I know what matters. Angry at the narcissistic fake “friends” that fool me with their cognitive empathy (this is fascinating – look it up). Angry over friendships lost for what seems like no reason. Angry with myself over feeling like I’m failing when I’m trying so damn hard.
It feels better to be angry, the tears stop and my heart starts pounding.
And then I remember something my therapist said in the fall of 2019. I was so angry about all of the things going on in my life and vented and vented and vented about how angry I was….and she said something along the lines of “are you sure you’re angry or are you hurt? It’s much easier to be angry than to feel the pain of being hurt. Can we talk about the death of your son now?”
And as I sit here and reflect, it’s pain. It’s hurt. I’m not angry. I’m crushed. And there’s so much to be crushed about, that it’s just easier to be angry.
After Kellan died, I had the patience and understanding of others to grieve and take the time I needed, to do what I needed. It’s been almost 4 years, and that patience and kindness and understanding is gone. But it turns out, the paralyzing grief is not.
I know who I am at my core, and I know the level of love and good I have the power to put into this world. If I know this, then I need to put it into action whenever I am able. But only when I am able. I’m not looking for pity, or understanding, or comfort. I just hope my words can help even 1 person who reads this to reflect.
Are you doing the best you can for others? Strangers even?
Are you checking in with the ones you love and making sure they’re doing ok? When you check in, are you doing this judgement free?
Are you being understanding that people may be dealing with things that you have no idea about or only know one version of?
Are you gossiping and spreading rumors? Will this help or hurt others?
Are you taking someones anger, frustration, or even silence the wrong way?
I’m not perfect at this, and I need to get better. That’s what today reinforced for me. I need to do better realizing that maybe someone else is hurting too. I am going to work on this so so so much.
I need to remain kind. And I promise I will.
But know, even through kindness, a person might be silently suffering. So if you can, be kind back. It’s just not hard to be kind.
And here I am, sitting in the church parking lot. Wrapping up my post, and I don’t even want to post it. Why? Because who knows what will be said about me because of my words? Who knows what the ramifications will be?
But hey, if you have something to say about me and how I’m handling my grief, just say it to me? It will serve both of us much better in the end.
Man I miss the Tiffany from 2019 who just didn’t care. And I NEVER thought I’d say I miss that version of myself.
Grief is strange. Time to hit publish….
Tiffany you need to write a book. Your words are very comforting even for those that haven’t been through what you’ve experienced. I think of you every time I hear that Miley Cirus song you would always sing at the hockey game. I pray for comfort and peace for you.
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