It's only been over a week since we lost Carter. [At the time of this being written]
It's difficult to even know where to begin. It's still very raw, not even two weeks, but I am compelled to jot down some thoughts around the grieving process so far. Some things I'm ready to share, some I'm not. Words cannot explain what it feels like to lose your son and how much we miss him, so I know I'll never be able to fully explain or verbalize all of my thoughts and feelings. Why would a miracle be given to us and then taken away?
Parents are not supposed to lose their child. We feel like we are in a nightmare that we can't wake up from. The feeling of shock, emptiness, numbness and loneliness consumes every day. Our hearts are broken…I never knew you could physically feel a broken heart, you can. No parent should have to go to a funeral home, to make a memorial stone or to a cemetery to figure out where you want to bury your son - but we did.
We have gone through many different waves of the grieving process already. Each day brings something different and you never know what is in store for your emotions that day or that moment until it happens. Days where the tears come over any thought, days of anger, days of emptiness, days of being emotionless… or maybe there's a day filled with moments of all those feelings and more. The same questions that we would verbalize while in the hospital bed or while Carter was in the NICU came back… they were the same questions, but a bit different this time. We were now asking these questions and thoughts in different tones and with more pain. Why us? What did we do to deserve this? Why was he taken from us? Did we do something wrong? What did he do to deserve his life being taken? It's my fault. I couldn't keep him safe.
One of the most important aspects I quickly recognized is that every one grieves differently - and that is okay. Dan and I grieve very differently, but it helps to talk about it and understand where each other is at in that moment or day. I don't know how I'd go through this without him by my side every moment and every painful step. Somehow we are lucky enough that when he's at a low, I’m able to sit next to him and be stronger for him and when I am at a low, he is the stronger one. We both have spent time just "being" and going through the waves as our parents came in to town to be with us. Our goal for each other is to get up, get out of bed and get dressed (even if it's just yoga pants). Dan has begun to add getting simple tasks done around the house, I haven't been able to bring myself to that yet. I need to just be, researching on grief and support, reading others' stories and writing my own.
As I sit here this morning, researching how to help us get through this for the 100th time, I am reminded again and again that I shouldn't be doing this. I shouldn't be researching how to grief the loss of our infant son. No one should, no parent should ever have to grieve the loss of a child. I told my mom, I expect to lose her in my lifetime, it is a part of what we expect to go through in life. She, I, you, no one, should lose their child.
My first encounter was just with one of our neighbors when I went to grab the mail. I hadn't met him yet, but met his wife when we recently moved in. Elated he said to me, "You must be Justina, I hear you are expecting. Congratulations!" I was immediately overwhelmed by emotions, I felt like my heart stopped and my stomach sank. I looked up trying to keep it together. "We were, but unfortunately we just lost him." I feel bad for how bad he felt for asking me. He kept apologizing, and I kept telling him it was okay. I can't be mad or have anger towards him or anyone that asks me that, they do not know what just happened. It was my first experience of someone who doesn't know what happened ask me a question. It hurt. It hurt bad. Unfortunately, I'm sure it won't be the last time.
Every time the snow falls, every time the wind blows, every time I walk in my closet of "regular clothes", everything I do, everything I see, everything I hear…I am reminded that Carter is no longer here. He's supposed to be in my belly right now until May… safe from all harm. The only thing I felt I had control over was keeping him safe in my belly and doing everything right while pregnant to do so. I was very wrong. I had absolutely no control over keeping him safe inside me and neither did Dan.
I can't yet fully explain or know how to verbalize the journey of grieving our son, but this is a start as it's still so raw and so fresh…still a shock. I'm sure on the next blog post I'll have some of the same, different and more feelings and thoughts. We are taking it moment by moment.