Some wonderful people have told me that I have amazing strength, and they wonder where I get it from. The word "strength" has been used countless times in regards to how I am dealing with Sybella's death. It is so wonderful to hear, and a lovely compliment. But it baffles and bewilders me. Because I dont think I have strength. And it worries me, that if I am demonstrating this "strength," do people think that I am not sad? Do they think I am not feeling anything? Do they see me as cold and heartless? I have been thrown into this situation and I have had to struggle to stay afloat in unknown waters. People ask me how I do it. How I cope. But what choice do I have?
Here are my innermost thoughts and feelings regarding my response to Sybella's death.
I am a fairly resilient person. That does not mean that I "get over" things easily. It means that I am able to go on with life, despite overwhelming pain. Two very different concepts. I think that having a child already helped me to keep going, and stopped me falling into a hole of grief and despondency.
I worry because although my heart is being crushed every second of every day, I cant explain why I still am able to have a laugh, a joke, a smile. Some people look at me and I wonder if they think I am being inappropriate, by smiling, when my baby is dead. I have been told, once, when I was having a particularly good day, that "I must be over it by now." And I said to that person, that you never get over the death of your child. Never never never never never.
And of course, I feel guilty. How can I joke when Sybella is not here? What right do I have to enjoy life, when my daughter never even got a chance to start hers?
It just seems to be the kind of person I am. Like I said in my post, Label Jars, Not People, there is no drama here. So you will never see me wailing and beating my breast. That is not to say that I DONT wail and beat my breast. I do. Often. But I do it in private. Or I do it with Kelvin, who sits and supports me, and listens, and brings tissues. My grief is much like my marriage. In that same post, I described my marriage as solid and that our deepest and closest times are between just the two of us. Just because someone doesnt see us being close, doesnt mean we arent. My grief is the same. Just because I am not seen losing my mind and crying helplessly into pillow, doesnt mean it doesnt happen. I will project something different to the general public because I dont feel comfortable letting them see me being vulnerable and exposed. I guess that's where people see my "strength." I let them know I'm sad, that I'm having a rough time and that I miss Sybella. But my deepest grief is raw and personal.
I am not hiding my grief. I know I said that I take issue with those who project a different affect to who they really are, so what I just shared might sound hypocritical, but it's not. Because I am honest about who I am as a person, and the affect that I project is consistent with my personality, but this single aspect of myself is something I choose to process privately.
Someone once said that grief is like lifting weights. On the first day you pick up that 50kg weight, you might collapse with pain and effort. On the first day your child dies, you wonder how you will ever pick yourself up and keep going. But you keep lifting that weight. You dont have a choice. And by the same time next year, that weight is still heavy, and you still feel pain when you lift it. But it is much more tolerable.
So even though I am smiling, or having a joke, or enjoying a movie, remember that my heart is still cracked and heavy. Remember that I am carrying deep pain. No matter how much time passes, I will never be ready to put Sybella aside. It doesnt matter if I have another baby, because that baby, although a beautiful and precious blessing, will not take away my pain of losing my second child. There will be no replacement for Sybella.
Remember, in a years time, or twenty years time to ask me about my daughter.
When my next baby is born, continue to talk to me about Sybella.
Say her name with me.
And we will find strength together.