Tomorrow begins a new year without our babies. Hopefully, it’ll be a year when our hearts will feel lighter and our days more joyful. Protected from the blustery cold in our cabin nestled in the snowy Arctic Tundra, I’ve had plenty of time to ponder the grief that we mothers feel when we lose a child and how it seems to differ from other bereaved family members. Into year two since Erik’s death, I still grieve deeply from time to time. Sometimes I try to hide the tears, sometimes I don’t bother. But each month that passes, I wonder why everyone else in the family seems to have recovered much faster than me. Is it different for siblings? I remember when my sister died, I was heartbroken, but not shattered as I am now. Is it different for fathers? I see my husband going about life as usual, talking about his happy memories with Erik with fondness rather than sorrowful longing.
So I put the question to you: is it really different for mothers? Does grief, for us, have a teleologic or biologic basis? Unlike any other death in the family, this one is starkly physical for me. I actually feel a hole in my chest, like something warm and blissful has been ripped from my body. I try hard to find joy in the adventure that is life, but the spark is gone, snuffed out by Erik’s final breath. Now life is a countdown to departure and reunion, biding time that seems to drag on so tediously. Every event, every experience, every conversation, every news story, every meal, every joke, every rotation of the earth seems trivial and meaningless when I’m in the deeper throes of sadness. I thank God that family and friends are their to pull me out into a lighter shade of darkness, but I also feel guilty for burdening them with this grief. They ask, “What about us? Aren’t we enough for you?” And surely they want to forget, but I’m the sharp burr in their boot that digs into a nerve with every step.
Is this an “Elisa thing” or a “mother thing”? I want to understand. And I hope that, through knowledge, I will find light.
Happy New Years, my dear second family.