Tips for Healing through Loss

Gone, but not forgotten

I have 4 beautiful children. They fill my days and I love them dearly. Many times, I look at them and think, “whew, I couldn’t possibly handle any more!” But most days, I look at them and am painfully reminded that there were supposed to be 5. My youngest child, my only son, was once a twin.

With every pregnancy, I suffered a little paranoia. I was always, in the back of my head mostly, afraid of losing the baby. At my first appointment with my OB during my fourth pregnancy, he confirmed what I already knew – I was indeed pregnant. I was sharing my paranoia with him about early pregnancy and he agreed to take a quick “peek” with an ultrasound machine. The ultrasound showed 2 sacs and 2 babies. I was shocked. I already had 3 kids at home and the thought of 2 more was a little overwhelming.

Shock quickly gave way to giddy excitement. The logistics of it all was a litte stressful, but the idea of 2 sweet babies in our life was something we got very used to very quickly. I began researching double strollers, talked to twin moms, researched breastfeeding twins and so much more. I was ready.

And then came our 12 week ultrasound. Our ultrasound technician quickly realized there was a noteable difference in the 2 babies. It didn’t take her long to realize that one of the twins was not living. There was “no cardiac activity.” Those were the words she typed that forever changed our vision of what life would be. She then moved on to our other baby and we tried to be excited to watch him move around and see the little flutter of his heart. We were so grateful to have one healthy baby, but at the same time, we were so very sad. That was the first of so many moments of completely conflicting emotions.

For the rest of the pregnancy, I dealt with irrational thoughts and hopes that the doctors were wrong and that my baby really was ok. There are often no physical signs of miscarriage when you lose a twin. So, I could easily trick myself into hoping that all was well. My rational self knew the truth. I’d seen the baby on the screen. But my irrational self hoped for a miracle.

I don’t regret those times of irrational belief. I believe in miracles. Big ones and “small ones” – if there is such a thing as a small miracle. That belief often gave me comfort. But sometimes it created pain.

My son was born completely healthy. He completed our family – as far as we can tell. I assumed that baby #4 would slide right in and we’d barely miss a beat. But, he’s been a challenge. He’s been a difficult sleeper, eater and often just seems discontent. And not like typical children. This seems different. And I’m often reminded that he was supposed to have a constant companion. A forever roommate, a forever playmate, a partner to get through life with. I feel like we’ve all been robbed. And I could choose to dwell on that.  But I choose to heal. Here’s how I coped (and continue to cope) with loss.

  1. Allow myself to be sad sometimes.

    Even though this happened 3 years ago, I allow myself to have sad moments when I think about my child that was not to be. I don’t, however, allow myself to spend too much time in “What Might Have Been Land”. That’s torturesome and unhealthy.

  2. Forgive myself for the guilt.

    Sometimes, when my 3 year old is being particularly difficult, I have the passing thought, “There were supposed to be 2 of him!” and for a moment I feel relieved that there’s only 1. And then the guilt begins. So, the forgiveness follows. I often feel grateful that my tough days aren’t more tough. I have to believe that’s an ok passing thought.

  3. Talking/writing about it.

    For a while now, I’ve never felt that I had the right to call what happened to me a miscarriage. I still got a baby at the end of my pregnancy. Women who suffer miscarriages have nothing to show for it. My loss was difficult. Very difficult. I am so very thankful that my son was born. But there is still something missing. Experiencing loss looks different for everyone. That doesn’t make it any less devastating. I’m grateful for great friends who support me and listen to me. Some who have experienced their own losses and healed.

  4. Find joy in life.

    There’s so much to be grateful for. And I am a blessed woman. My life is full. Everyone has loss in their life. I wasn’t being picked on by God. Life is hard. But life is also good. Choosing to dwell on loss and allow it to consume is chosing not to live life. And that helps no one.

  5. Accept that sometimes there’s no closure.

    I have no idea whether my child was another son or daughter. While I live on this earth, that question will remain unanswered. My oldest daughter (wise beyond her years) was able to provide me with a little comfort one day. She had seen and read Heaven is for Real. In the story, the little boy went to heaven and saw an unborn child that his mother had lost. He was able to tell his mother about the baby when he woke up. My daughter, upon finding out about our lost twin, told me that I’d be able to see him in heaven. And that maybe he’d have my green eyes (all of my other kids have my husband’s brown eyes). Her words brought me the most comfort that I’d been able to feel since we learned of the loss. But until then, my heart will be missing a little piece. One that I’ll never get back.

Loss will kick you in the teeth. It sends us reeling and for a while, it’s hard to find a new normal. But we can. I can. You can. It sometimes takes a while. It sometimes seems unachievable. It’s not. Healing is ours for the taking. We are meant to be whole. Being forever altered by loss does not make us un-whole. It just changes us.

 

 

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