Fresh Ideas: When grief won’t relent
Everyone will experience grief in their life. That intense, excruciating feeling of sadness, heartache, torment, despair, mourning and so many others. Some people go through the steps of grief one by one, learning and feeling all of the things the internet and doctors said they would. For others, grief takes over entirely and leaves you stuck. That’s how it was for me.
I will never forget the morning my phone rang, looking at the incoming number and feeling my heart sink. We had snuck away from the hospital for a few hours of much needed sleep. It was the hospital calling. I let it ring awhile before I could muster up the strength to answer it. Before I knew it, my husband and I were looking into an incubator at our tiny baby girl. She was 6 days old. She had fought so very hard and it was time to let her rest.
We weren’t sure if we could do it, but it was time. It was the best thing for her and the choice we had to make. The nurses unplugged the machines, opened the lid to her little home, and said I would be able to pick her up. She was so tiny. I held her against my chest. I felt her body move and her last breathes. My heart broke. We kissed her and held her, not wanting to let go. We were surrounded by family and she was surrounded by angles.
The first few weeks following her death I mostly felt sad. I cried daily and felt the sadness that would never become lighter. Soon, anger reared its ugly head and took over entirely. I began to ask, why her? Why us? I prayed and asked for answers and received nothing. I was lost and had no idea how to handle my feelings. So, I turned to alcohol. I drank daily to the point of numbness. However once that buzz wore off the grief would flood back in and take over with vengeance.
With all this I felt intense yearning, longing to hold her again. I wondered how her eyes would’ve looked or how she would have smiled. What about her cry? I wished I could’ve witnessed these miracles. With these feelings, wishes and wonders, came denial and disbelief. I didn’t want to accept our loss and alcohol was my answer.
The alcohol plus grief would never allow my feelings to become less severe. Grief, for me, was like a wound that wouldn’t heal. My poor choice of coping with alcohol wasn’t helping me, my relationships, or dealing with my loss. I had a realization I wasn’t dealing with my loss. I was ignoring the problem with denial. The alcohol was sucking me in and I had become brainwashed. What was my solution? I stopped drinking.
Now all these feelings have become manageable. I can handle my emotions in a healthier manner. I’m grateful to be feeling these emotions, even the grief, so now I don’t need to run away from them. I can now look at our little girl’s picture and not cry, but smile. I think of our magical moments. We met our little girl, watched her move around to the sound of our voices. I was able to feed her and hold her and change her diaper. Some parents who share the same experience were not able to witness these moments. I’m grateful for those moments and I’m never going to forget them. I’m at ease knowing she’s watching us every day. We now have our own guardian angel.
Nicole Wolfe is a guest columnist. She is a mother, Caterer, and a Reno resident