What I've learned this past year is there is no wrong way to go through your grief process. Losing a child is the most devastating thing a parent can go through, it doesn't matter how long they've been that child's parent, it doesn't matter how a parent loses a child, there is nothing as painful. And it's ok to not be ok! Grief is not weakness, the process of mourning is not weakness, the trauma that you endure following your child's death is not weakness. As a beautiful friend said to me your grief reaches the depth of your love, grief is your loved turned inside out.
I learned that not all those who come to support you are there for the right reasons, I also learned that it's ok to let go of those people. You deserve to be free of those who break you down instead of build you up even if they are family. I learned that some people aren't able to handle to weight of childloss and it's ok to let go of them too.
I learned that most people actually want to help. I learned that most people have no idea how to help and just want you to tell them what to do. Even if it's ridiculous, don't be afraid to ask. Though any loss parent can tell you the one thing they want more than anything is their child back. I learned it's ok to be helped and held by your community. I've learned it's sometimes the ones who remain silent are those who are so devastated for you they don't know what to say. I've learned that there is an invisible string that connects those who love you and support, even if they can't find the words their heart reaches for yours when you are hurting.
I learned that numbness is self preservation. I learned that running on autopilot can keep your head above the darkness long enough that you can gulp enough air to survive the next grief wave. I learned that grief waves can come out of no where, they can knock you down and drag you about all over again.
I learned that often the negative perceptions and expectations I had were me being too hard on myself. I learned that it's necessary to be kind and gentle to myself. I learned it's ok to say know. I learned that it's not always necessary to push my own limits all the time, sometimes coasting is the perfect thing. I learned that body work was more healing for me than therapy. I learned that it's ok to use medicine to get over the hurdles. I learned that what I see as weakness others see as strength. I learned that I've got a long road to ok-ness ahead of me.
I learned that my love is bigger than life or death as it reaches my son beyond the parameters of living. I learned that my husband is my rock. I learned that my community loves me and accepts me as imperfectly as I am. I learned that God is everywhere in all things encouraging me every step. I learned that losing a child doesn't ruin your marriage.
I learned that even babies grieve. I learned that my boys are changed forever. I learned that my boys are beyond capable of empathy and awareness. I learned that my boys still have a long road ahead of them and they still find the strength to step forward.
I learned that I have no idea how I've made it a year. I've learned that all the moment of the last year feel like they happened in a flash. I've learned that even though this is a path that is walked alone there is still a community who understands the walk. I learned that no one will hurt like I hurt because no one else was/is Bram's mom. I learned that this will never get easier, that this pain has not gotten better or lighter, that this is a terminal pain. I learned that I will avoid sharing this with another loss mom because it is a terrifying reality.
I learned that I am safe because my community protects and supports me. I learned that I am brave because Bram taught me how. I learned that I am loved because Bram loved me and he loved his life, he lived every moment. I learned that Bram matters and that he will never be forgotten.
I learned that my life isn't without him, he's still here, and that we might just be ok, and we might actually be ok with being ok.