“You will never stop loving your daughter. You will never forget her. You will always know her name. But she will always be dead. Nobody can intervene and make that right and nobody will. Nobody can take it back with silence or push it away with words. Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal. Therapists and friends and other people who live on Planet My Baby Died can help you along the way, but the healing—the genuine healing, the actual real deal down-on-your-knees-in-the-mud change—is entirely and absolutely up to you.” —DEAR SUGAR, The Rumpus Advice Column #44: How You Get Unstuck

On Planet I Delivered a Dead Baby, mornings can be the toughest time of day. The world awakes. The hustle begins. People are excited to go about their day. But you’re not excited to go about your day. You Delivered a Dead Baby. You were 37 weeks pregnant and he was healthy, and you were healthy and thisclose to your due date and supposed to deliver a healthy, happy baby boy and bring him home, but instead your son died inside of you and you went home with empty arms. And he’s not coming back; he’s still dead and will always be, and the doctor is not going to call you and say she made a horrible mistake and it turns out your son is alive after all, because why wouldn’t he be?

So you just want to roll over and pull the covers over your head and sob and grieve for your loss and your emptiness. You want to relive the last 10 months of your life over and over; you’re consumed by the moment the doctor told you, when you asked why there was no heartbeat, “I’m afraid it means the baby has died,” and you were utterly brought to your knees.

But you force yourself to get out of bed and go about your day, because you don’t want your grief to swallow you alive. You’re both comforted by your grief and terrified by it. So you get up. It’s like climbing out of a dark, dark hole. Each new day you may find yourself back at the bottom again. But you have to keep trying, to start all over again, if you ever want to get back to the top.

Some days on Planet I Delivered a Dead Baby, this doesn’t work so well. After a while you realize you just can’t function. And so that day is one for grieving.

Other days, you go through the motions for a while, and it’s so, so hard. You think, why I am doing this? It’s pointless; I Delivered a Dead Baby; I’d rather be grieving. But slowly, slowly, you can feel yourself climbing out of that hole. You’re always one thought away from what you lost. But you’re also thinking, for what always feels like the first time, maybe I can heal. Maybe I can become a new person, and it’s not a shell of a human being shattered and turned inside out by the loss and burial of her child, but a strong person, a fierce mother who is running as far as she can in the direction of her best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by her own desire to heal.

At first on such days, you thought you were stuffing the grief down, and that it would have to resurface someday, somehow, and that it wasn’t healthy to do that. But then you talked to another mother who buried a child, and she said it’s more about waiting to deal with it until you’ve healed some and are stronger and more capable of handling it. You still grieve; you will always grieve. But this is how you survive it.

As Sugar says:

This is how you get unstuck, Stuck. You reach. Not so you can walk away from the daughter you loved, but so you can live the life that is yours—the one that includes the sad loss of your daughter, but is not arrested by it. The one that eventually leads you to a place in which you not only grieve her, but also feel lucky to have had the privilege of loving her. That place of true healing is a fierce place. It’s a giant place. It’s a place of monstrous beauty and endless dark and glimmering light. And you have to work really, really, really fucking hard to get there, but you can do it, honey. You’re a woman who can travel that far. I know it.

And so that’s where I am today. Reaching. Trying to get unstuck. Searching for the bridge of my dreams.


6 thoughts on “Reach

  1. I was a big Dear Sugar fan when Cheryl Strayed was Sugar and I’m so glad you read “How You Get Unstuck.” Many quotes from her column–including the entry you posted above–made it into my quotes collection, especially in the death and grieving categories. The links are below in case you’re interested.

    I’m wishing you well as you continue to unstick yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Angela! This is the first day I am reading your blog. I want you to know–mother to mother–my heart goes out to you and your family. You have such courage. May God bless you and comfort you all.

    Liked by 1 person

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