Surviving the Aftermath

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Featured photo credit: Paulina Rozpondek

It’s been four years since my daughter was stillborn and what once seemed completely impossible isn’t so impossible anymore. I have survived. That is something I did not think I would be able to do after losing Zia. I am able to stand, smile and laugh about silly things. I can live my life in a way I didn’t think I ever would. I am not the same person I once was, I doubt I will ever be her but I am here. My daughter died and what remains now is the absence, that gaping hole in my heart and soul where a daughter should be and my deep love and longing for her. My daughter lives and doesn’t, she grows and doesn’t.

My feelings for her are unexplainable at times but it is there and my love for her exists as she does. I was inconsolable for a very long time but over the years I have found that getting more involved in the loss community and supporting other parents who find themselves where I am, has helped me immensely. Admitting that I am undeniably vulnerable has helped too. A year after Zia died, we experienced an early miscarriage which I don’t speak of often enough, maybe it is the fact that I really had no idea I was pregnant and maybe it is also the sadness that comes from the loss of little soul, no more than four to six weeks into my pregnancy which prohibits me from speaking about it, but I do, from time to time, he or she would be two years old now.

I continually count the milestones, who would be Zia be at four, all of the milestones missed, milestones I will never get back. There is such sadness in loss, a sadness that is often overwhelming but slowly you learn how to “be” again, whatever it is that you need and have to be. Parenting after loss is one other incredible thing I and so many others courageous mothers and fathers do, whether you were a parent before the loss or became one soon after.  It’s admirable that one is able to be in the present with living children, experiencing their growth and their milestones yet knowing that you will never have that with the one gone.

I consider where I was four years ago today, incredibly hopeful and incredibly happy. I don’t know if I have truly allowed myself to feel that kind of hope again since. People often tell me that I am incredibly strong and brave to have made it this far. I don’t think there is a destination really, I simply go a day at a time and I experience whatever it is that I need to experience in that day.

The sadness comes in waves and knocks me off my feet, but happiness comes too. I am not brave, I dealt with this great epic loss the best way I possibly could and I am still healing, I am still teaching myself everyday how to continue.  My daughter is a part of everything I am and will ever be; she is my great loss and my great gain, for in losing her, I gained a deeper appreciation for life, hers, mine, my family’s and for humanity.

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