We are no longer the same people we were before our daughter died. A huge emotional displacement has taken place and we are permanently altered. A tragedy has befallen us; a trauma has occurred. We are not able to return to our prior selves because those selves have died with our daughter.
Since my dearest little one left, time has crept by slowly and mercilessly. Each tick of the clock means that she has been gone that much longer and the sadness deepens. Each tick of the clock also means we have moved a step forward, awkwardly and with much resistance, but forward nonetheless. With this intrinsic forward motion comes a decision every bereaved parent must make; to either stagnate in our grief or adjust to our circumstances. With stagnation one would remain idle and rust, with time still progressing; you would reach a point of death among the living. With adjustment comes work, emotionally exhausting work, but ultimately, survival among the living.
My husband and I choose adjustment; we have a living child who deserves her life with her parents present, to the best of their ability. Choosing to adjust to our new, devastating circumstances means that we have to also adjust to these new “selves” that we are; people around us and we ourselves have to come to terms with who we are now and not who we were then. This is a process that demands the slow ticking of the clock. It is a direction which demands patience with ourselves and each other and those around us. We are mourning our daughter immensely but at the same time mourning the loss of who we once were and the life we used to lead. Our living daughter is mourning the loss of her parents of before and our family and friends are wondering how to deal with these new people we’ve become.
To be blunt, we are not the people we used to be nor will we ever be again. No longer do we look at life the same. There is a shadow, a darkness that envelops all that we see. A lovely sunny panoramic view of New England Fall foliage is no longer. Instead it is a cloudy, bland view of ‘so what’. The freshly fallen snow is no longer white, fluffy fun; it is a cold and tiresome chore. The sound of certain pop songs used to be energizing and silly and made us want to dance. Now they are loud, obnoxious reminders of what once were happy memories. I was accustomed to other people’s idiosyncrasies; now I find myself annoyed and inconvenienced.
I am hopeful that there is a place of neutrality, where one can find a space inside one’s mind and heart to tolerate our new selves and circumstances; a place where we can exist in our own melancholia and occasionally feel contentment. If we appear positive or maybe even upbeat, please don’t confuse this with a thought that we’re getting “over it”. Just because we might appear ok in that moment, do not assume we are; we are not ok and we never will be. We are simply trying to adjust.
A website has been established in our daughter's name. Please click here for more information about our mission.
FriendsofAine.com - Aine Marie Phillips