Wrestling Emotions

I’ve been wrestling my emotions lately, battling my grief.

For the past three years, since the stillborn death of my third son, I’ve slip-slided through the stages of grief. At first I’d bounce back and forth between them quickly. I’d be numb one day, overwhelmingly sad the next and then some days I was absolutely fine. I was an unpredictable passenger on an unavoidable grief-induced roller coaster of emotions.

For most of the past year I have comfortably settled into an acceptance/hope stage of grief. Although I remember my baby Luca every minute of every day, I have come to accept his death and the new “me” that has emerged afterward. I have realized that my life will never be the same, but I can still find joy in the things I did before he died.

But every once and a while I bounce back to other grief stages that I battled though on a regular basis immediately after his death.

Recently I have been lingering in some of those stages. Sometimes I a little longer than I would like. I have felt anger and pain. I have felt shock and denial.

I am sure some of my recent grief has been triggered by my father-in-law’s current health struggles. Less than a month ago his aortic valve ruptured and he suffered a couple of major strokes. Despite all odds, he made it through open-heart surgery and is fighting through the effects of the strokes. He is a miracle.

But, sadly, my grief is also triggered by everyday family moments I wish I could share with all of my family, including my little Luca.

Last week my youngest son joined his brothers in a giant wrestling match/pillow fight. His tiny-11-month-old body dwarfed by his 4 and 6-year-old brothers, he fought on. And he laughed the whole time.

It was so cute to see him finally brave enough to take on his siblings.

But I couldn’t help wonder how it would be if his 3-year-old brother Luca was fighting with them. Would they tag team? Would my angel baby crawl across my oldest son and high center then giggle as a giant, soft pillow whacked him in the face?

Probably.

I took my three living boys to the beach a couple of weeks ago. Instead of watching four little monsters tossing sand and chasing waves, I forced a smile as my oldest wrote the name of his angel baby brother in the sand and then eagerly shouted for me to take a picture of it.

Family pictures. Family vacations. Family trips to Lagoon. I never know what will trigger my sense of loss – what will make me ache to see my third son again.

Grief is exhausting.

Those of you who have never lost a child probably think I am crazy. You may even wonder why I can’t get over this. Sometimes I wonder that too.

But those of you who have buried a baby will completely understand.

Part of me will wrestle these emotions my whole life. When my son died in April 2010 (you can read about him here), I automatically enlisted in a never-ending battle with loss.

Hopefully most days I’ll be able to win the battle. Yet I know there will still be days it will kick my butt.

I guess the important part is that I keep battling. Keep wrestling even when I feel like I’m pinned.

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