On Grief . . .

by Brandi Lytle
Photo of a blue flower on "On grief...," on Not So Mommy..., an infertility & childless blog
SENSITIVE POST WITH POSSIBLE TRIGGERS:  I am currently in the midst of grief.  This blog talks about my current grief journey, as well as past grief journeys, including (but not limited to) our infertility and childless not by choice ones.  It is real and honest and raw.  Please, do not read if you are feeling vulnerable today.

I have been blogging for nearly four years.  Normally, I do not have any difficulty writing blogs.  In fact, my weekly blog (which is usually published on Monday at 4 AM Eastern) is always scheduled no later than the Friday before.  Sometimes, it’s scheduled weeks in advance.  Until today.  It is 11:00 AM and I am just now sitting down to write this week’s blog.  I didn’t even publish a blog last week.

If you are a regular here, you know that I asked you to give me a moment.  My Nana passed away on June 1st, and her Celebration of Life was on the 3rd of July.  You know, I’m not a stranger to grief.  In fact, one of the reasons my blogs have always been scheduled in advance is because I have a lot to say about infertility, childlessness, grief, and healing.  Despite the fact that I still have lots to say about these topics, recently, I haven’t been able to figure out how to put these thoughts down into a cohesive blog…

Thinking about grief…

I’ve been thinking about grief a lot lately.  And though I know some really dislike comparing grief, I have been contemplating the various grief journeys that I have walked.  While my grief journeys are uniquely my own, I thought that perhaps sharing how I’ve dealt with (and am dealing with) grief might help someone else understand her (or his) own unique grief.  Plus, I find writing cathartic.  And though I’ve been avoiding it lately, I really think I need to get it all out…

Grief Journeys…

My Nana’s passing has stirred grief from long ago…  I have been thinking about my Daddy who went to Heaven 20 years ago.  I have thought of Prancer, who we lost when she was only 7 years old.  I’ve thought of Valentine and how he died in my arms.  I’ve thought of my Mamaw and Grandpa and Grandad, my best friend, my best friend’s mom, and my father-in-law…  I’ve also thought about my infertility battle and the first year of trying to accept my childless not by choice life.  And my Nana…  I’ve been thinking a lot about my Nana.

And now, the tears that I’ve been trying to keep at bay spring to my eyes.  The pain that I’ve been trying to suppress grips my heart.  And I shake my head and honestly get a bit irritated because I am tired of being sad.  Truly, I am so, so tired…

Trying to deal…

Over the past several weeks, I’ve been working outside in our flowerbeds a lot.  In the heat of the summer, I’ve transplanted numerous bushes—big bushes—moved soil and mulch and hauled heavy, heavy blocks clear across our yard.  I’ve filled a wheelbarrow to overflowing as I thinned out our wildflowers.  I’ve sweated and huffed and puffed, coming inside a disaster covered in dirt.

Why would I put myself through this?  I mean, it’s 90 degrees outside and extremely humid in South Carolina.  Why not stay indoors?

Because I’m trying to ignore my grief.

When I’m outside, uncomfortable in the heat and covered in dirt and sweat…  When I’m using all my strength to wrangle bushes from the ground and replant them elsewhere in our yard…  When I’m struggling to get a wheelbarrow full of block across our gravel driveway…  Well, my mind doesn’t wander to memories of my Nana or Daddy or Prancer or Valentine or Jennifer…  My grief stays neatly tucked away in some far recess of my heart.

This is how I deal…

And then I realized that I do this.  I throw myself into projects in an effort to stop the tears.  In 2014—the first year of trying to accept a childless not by choice life—I was at a new teaching position, and I allowed that job to overtake my life.  I worked long hours, well after the students were released to go home.  In fact, my SUV was often the last car in the parking lot.  I created tons of activities for my students, shared ideas with my fellow teachers, and outlined lesson plans to a greater extent than necessary.

But when my mind was busy, it didn’t have a chance to think about the fact that we weren’t going to have a two-legged little…

Surrendering to the feelings…

Now, eventually, I always surrender to the feelings.  I work through the grief.  I make my way to healing.  But often, I fight it for a little while…

There are two times when I didn’t fight it—while going through our infertility battle and when my best friend passed away at 40-years-young.

A flashback to our infertility battle…

I didn’t fight the sadness when going through our infertility battle because I didn’t realize that I was grieving.  I just knew that I was beyond sad that we weren’t getting pregnant.  Oh my gosh.  Going back to that time…  Writing that sentence…  The most intense pain just overwhelmed me.  And more tears…

I recently explained to a family member that, though I truly am happy with my life, I will never “get over” not being able to have a biological two-legged kiddo.  You never heal from that 100%.

I think people forget that sometimes.  Or don’t realize…  Because I seem so joyful, having found the bright sides…  I mean, I write this blog after all, about finding joy despite…

But I’ll never “get over” the loss of the little I dreamed of…  Just as I’ll never “get over” the loss of my Nana or Daddy or Prancer or Valentine or Jennifer…

Losing my best friend…

Speaking of Jennifer, I didn’t fight my feelings of grief when she passed away.  I think that’s because the pain was so completely and totally overwhelming that I did not have the strength to fight it.  In fact…  I worry about saying this next statement out loud for fear of judgment…  I think losing my best friend…  Well, it was the most intense pain I’ve ever experienced.

Maybe I say that because when my Daddy died, I didn’t understand grief.  So, I didn’t really realize why I was so tired…

And when going through infertility…  Well, I didn’t realize I was grieving.  And the month after month after month…  I know I’ve blocked out some of the painful memories.  Plus, I often chose to be mad instead of sad during that time.  So maybe I did fight the grief a bit then…

But with my best friend…  Well, I grieved hard for a full year.  I wrote about it and talked about it and looked at her photo and allowed the pain and tears and intense pain to overtake…  And when year two rolled around and the pain wasn’t as intense and the tears stopped falling, I felt guilty.  Because I thought I should feel that pain for at least another year.  Because my best friend was worth more than one year of grieving.  And then I realized that I had grieved so hard during that first year that I allowed myself to move towards healing quicker…  And then year three came and unexpected grief attacks happened.  And I realized that I’ll never get over losing her and I’ll miss her forever and this grief journey…  Well, it’s going to be a lifelong journey…

My Nana…

And honestly, that brings me back to my Nana.  You see, my best friend and my Nana both loved purple and both loved butterflies.  So now, things that remind me of my Nana also remind me of Jennifer and vice versa.  And that’s causing a whole new kind of grief…

Going through memories…

So, I’m going to try to start blogging each week again.  And posting on social media.  But I’m really tired.  And because I’m already dealing with all the feels, I’ve decided to go through boxes of memories that I’ve been carrying around for at least eight years.  So, I’m reading old letters and looking at old photos and finding cards from my Daddy and my Nana…  I even found a couple of old calendars.

As I looked through a calendar from 2006, I saw that I had marked when I was ovulating and when our first appointment with our first fertility specialist was.  That’s the year I had the surgery which diagnosed my endometriosis and then had to take Lupron shots.  Then in the 2007 calendar, I had written when our IUI (intrauterine insemination) appointments were…  March 31, 2007 was our first one.  We tried again in April and again in May.  Then there was nothing until September when we went back to see what other options we had since IUI hadn’t worked.  So, September 2007 is when the doctor said we had “severe infertility” and started talking with us about IVF and sperm donors and…

Thank you for listening…

Thank you for reading my rambling, fabulous one.  I’ve been writing for 48 minutes.  Feeling like you’ve been listening to me for nearly an hour…  Well, it’s helped.  I think I’m probably going to need a bit longer before I completely get my footing…  So, again, thank you for giving me a moment.

If anything I wrote resonates with you, fabulous one, tell us about it in the comments…
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4 comments

Mali July 14, 2021 - 12:47 am

My experience has been that previous grief and healing has taught me how to grieve (although we can never skip the need to grieve) and how to begin healing. I’m sure that’s why you’re giving yourself space and immersing yourself in your garden too. However, I think grief also reminds us of other grief, and grief on top of grief is magnified, So be kind to yourself, allow yourself to mourn, and allow the healing to come when it does.

Reply
Brandi Lytle July 15, 2021 - 1:39 pm

Thank you for your kind words, Mali. And for reminding me to be kind to myself as I grieve, not rushing the healing…

Reply
Sherry Stout July 12, 2021 - 3:01 pm

Your words go straight to my heart. I hope you feel my love and compassion. Wishing so hard I could take away some of the pain…..💜💜

Reply
Brandi Lytle July 15, 2021 - 1:38 pm

You have taken away some of the pain… Love & Hugs

Reply

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