A friend contacted me earlier in the week about a friend of hers who recently lost a baby a baby at full-term.
It made my heart hurt to think of someone having to go through those first days again. I honestly cannot think of anything more painful, looking back it almost makes me physically sick to remember it.
My friend asked me if I had any advice or resources I could pass along that might help, and I shot off a long email that was probably way more information than she ever wanted or needed on the subject, but it got me thinking that maybe I should write some of that information down here. These are the things that have helped me to put one foot in front of the other, from that first awful day until now, when even though it doesn't always seem like it, I am able to recognize that things are getting (do get) better.
It should come as no surprise that my faith has helped me. I literally don't think I would have been able to get up off the floor that first day or any day after if I did not think that Rip was safe in heaven. Going to church, reading the bible, praying, all of those things make me feel closer to him...I am so thankful to have grown up in a family who believed.
Exercise has helped a lot. Looking back, I was even more out of my mind (or drugged) than I thought, but I started doing a beginner boot camp about three and a half weeks after Rip died. It sounds insane, and it probably was, but having some physical strength helped me get some mental and emotional strength back. Just going for a walk in the fresh air has seriously saved me from some of my lowest moments.
I've already talked about the books that I've read that have helped me with the grief, but for me reading in general has been an escape. It's surprised me, when I was in the hospital I could not concentrate long enough to read anything, but I've probably read 30 books since Rip's death. You have to deal with your loss, but I see nothing wrong with a little escapism. Certain movies are good for that too, I went to see Burlesque (yes, the one with Cher) a few weeks before Christmas and sat for two hours not thinking about anything but moving to LA and becoming a dancer...
I see a counselor, and I know that is something that is supposed to be really "hush hush" but good lord, how in the world am I supposed to know how to do this? I have no idea how to deal with losing my child, why wouldn't I turn to a professional for help? It's just nice to be able to talk to someone who has no emotional stake in the situation (and quite frankly, is being paid to listen to me vent for an hour).
Someone told Parke and me right after Rip died that the important thing for us to remember was to be kind to each other....and I think that has helped a lot. I can honestly say that I love Parke more today than I ever have, but when two people are grieving it is always going to be at different rates and sometimes your first reaction is to be angry at the other person for not feeling the way that you do, but if you can remember to be kind no matter what... it helps get you through the tough parts. Having family and friends who love you enough to let you be unkind is pretty important too...you're going to want to yell and scream, and you've got to get it out somewhere.
I guess the last thing that has helped me is being really honest. Honest with myself and with other people. I've tried to be honest about what I was feeling, what I did and did not want to do, and what I did and did not want others to do. Sometimes it feels like I have been sad for a long time, and sometimes I feel like other people must be thinking "she's really got to get over this". But I'm not over it, not yet. And that's okay. I will get better with time, and until then I am just going to have to take each day as it comes and trust that this storm will pass.