Guilty of Being Happy While Grieving (Therapeutic Poetry On Miscarriage, Part 3)

Dear Readers,

Firstly, thank you for opening your hearts to my grief journey over our miscarriage. Thank you for letting me crawl in, for feeling my aches and being privy to the confusion of my soul.

My husband and I have been overwhelmed (in a good way) at all the practical and emotional support that has been showering down on us. Thank you for your comments, and your [250!!!] shares of My Heart Is Raw From Grief.

It is incredibly moving to both of us to know that my account of our traumatic experience and grief process has been obviously striking a chord. Thank you for being part of our effort to raise awareness on this important, pervasive topic of miscarriage. Thank you for being open to reconsidering what you thought you knew, so that now you might be able to better empathize with this particular form of loss before than previously.

My Heart is Raw From Grief is poetry from the first two days of being at the deepest, darkest, saddest place in my grief. Cycles of Mourning explores some of the ‘grief waves’ of the following days and the unique emotions and thoughts that were most present then.

The first poem of Part 3 of my therapeutic poetry, entitled ‘Feeling Lost’, is from a sleepless night over the weekend; it’s about me struggling to figure out what I’m supposed to do with my life now — ‘good’ or ‘bad’, I had been so focused on the sweet little life growing in me. Now, it’s astounding the number of plans that have to be reconsidered.

The second poem, ‘Guilty As Charged,’ is from just this afternoon.  Although you might read it and think ‘oh no! someone has said or done something cruelly insensitive, poor dear!’ that is genuinely not the case. We have received nothing but loving support, comforting words, lots of practical help, and big hugs.

 

But, when stress of any kind strikes -- and traumatic loss certainly qualifies as stress -- the dark underbellies of our personalities can creep up and wallop us.

 

Thus, this poem is about me struggling with how I’m perceived by others. It’s about my own insecurities, my own self-doubt, my own fear of being disliked or thought of as a ‘bad person.’

This poem is about a new facet of my grief process: the fact that not every day is a bad day. The fact that sometimes, even while still grieving in an overall sense, we still appreciate a beautiful sunset, listen to our favorite music, accomplish something, maybe even smile.

In a very important sense, there is a poem missing from between these two. Around the same time that I was feeling so overwhelmed and purposeless, I was also processing feeling as if we betrayed our baby anytime we actually felt happy — and we have felt happy.

Despite — or perhaps because? — our grief has been so intense, the feel-good moments have been big as well, maybe to balance it all out or something, I don’t know. But we have laughed. We have gone for grounding walks out in nature. We have danced in our living room. We opened up our ‘memory box’ and looked through old pictures, cards, and other souvenirs of our happiest days, to briefly re-live simpler moments.

 

I struggled with feeling guilty.

 

Surely we were ‘supposed’ to be constantly beside ourselves with agony.

Surely we weren’t ‘supposed’ to find a speck of joy in life.

Because to do anything other than deeply and constantly grieve would be a betrayal to the memory of our baby … right? And especially so soon! How could we be so callous?!

I didn’t end up writing that poem. Maybe I still will. But know that those thoughts and feelings were the bridge between ‘Feeling Lost’ and ‘Guilty As Charged.’

I came to terms with how, no, we weren’t betraying our baby by enjoying moments of pleasure and contentment. For, although the death of our baby brought with it pain; the existence of our baby, the essence of our baby, the simple fact that it was, brought us nothing but happiness.

It is OK to process your grief and be able to set it aside, on some level, at some point.

 

Grief and loss are not the same.
They are categorically different.

 

I grieve the death of my baby — those emotions are sad and challenging.

But I loved my baby — the object of my grief — and my baby, while alive, never brought me a moment’s sadness.

 

Surely the best tribute to my baby is not to mourn forever, but to continue living and loving life, in fact, to live and love even bigger and more than before because my baby's brief existence positively changed my life and made me a better person.

 

So, wrestling with this topic of ‘betrayal’ was an important aspect of this first weekend without baby. It has direct bearing on the emotions of today, which have been nervousness, self-doubt, and self-consciousness.

See, even though I now feel that my baby understands me sometimes being happy and that my baby would rejoice in my happiness and not feel abandoned because of it …

What about other people? What do they think?

And so I give you the second poem, ‘Guilty As Charged.’

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NOTE: you may need to scroll UP to read my introduction to these two poems.

Feeling Lost

I wonder how long it will be
until I find purpose again

perhaps it’s always been a struggle
but for a while there was a plan

you were my purpose, my plan
all that I lived for

It was easier because of you
to eat more salad
not forget my vitamins
go for a daily walk
and say ‘no’ to anxiety & stress

I sang more, to introduce you to music
We danced more, so you would have joy
There was more laughter and snuggles
as we imagined you smiling and cuddling with us

in everything we were more careful
drive more slowly
go to bed early
don’t work too hard
take a break

I had piles of books to read
daddy had lists of research
there were things to buy
showers to plan
safety changes to make

how many conversations now
are rendered pointless?
how many late-night talks
that seem so dumb?

we won’t need a carseat
I’m glad I didn’t donate my
pre-pregnancy clothes
it’s hard to want to invest in about anything
when it’s just the two of us

there will be no sewing projects
no deep-clean of the house before you arrive
this May will be the saddest ever
with no grave to place lily-of-the-valley

 

Guilty As Charged

It’s easy to feel guilty
about grieving
Most people aren’t used to seeing it
so openly, vulnerably shared

Grief becomes novelty
Almost exotic
Everyone wants to help
What can I say, what can I do

While it actually takes great strength
to say: please, I need help
It’s hard to not feel exposed and judged
as some sort of circus performer

Do I seek attention? pity?
praise for being so brave?

Am I looking for validation
of my feeling and actions?

Do I need permission to grieve?

We’ve forgotten how to grieve
I’m not sure I’m doing it right.

Does it count only if I cry all day
and never smile, not once?

Does it count only if I lose all
hope, passion, and peace?

Am I allowed to have good days and bad
and still say: ‘I’m grieving’?

How low do you have to be,
how much do you have to suffer
in order to justify feeling pain
and reaching out

When tragedy first hit,
I felt so sure:
This is a tragedy, and what I feel
is grief and deepest sorrow.

But I have still laughed, sometimes
Still danced, sung, and felt happy, a little

Was that wrong?

Is there such thing as feeling better too soon?
Not grieving long enough or properly?

What if I promise that I know
more hard days will come,
that my tears are not exhausted,
that I’m just taking a break.

I don’t want to pretend, to make this a show
I don’t want to always wear a long face

I want to take the grief as it comes,
which is not constant or always big

Sometimes grief is short
Sometimes it is small

All I know is it will come again
So maybe you’re catching me on a good day

I don’t want to hide
I don’t like this shame I feel

Being an outlier, doing grief differently
letting yourself feel and letting others know it
opens you up as you bare your soul
for looks of pity instead of empathy
for scorn that is disguised as help

I want to own my grief
in all its shapes and sizes
whenever a wave comes
however tall and strong
or nearly gentle

I don’t want to feel pressure
that there is only one right path
that there is a time-stamp on
how long I can feel this way

My pain is not more than yours
There is little value in comparative suffering
We are all hurting, yet healing
still hoping and dreaming

Don’t judge me and I won’t judge you
I can never walk a mile in your shoes

Sometimes I need to share my grief
Other times I’ll hold it close and just for me
There is no good or bad way
to process tragedy

So what if today I showered
actually cooked food or went to the gym
Maybe tomorrow I’ll be down for the count,
puffy-eyed, and eating your canned soup

Feeling grief and making it known
it something that should be normal

Pain is a very present fact of life
not an endangered tiger

Let me be real
even if it’s a good day
Surely you don’t want me
to grieve forever?

You’re not a hero in my story
if only I stay weak and helpless

Those honest with themselves
have times both of helping
and of needing help

Vulnerability is not weakness
Openness is not showcasing
Grief is not an attention gimmick

My loss is real.
I am grieving.
This is just a good day.

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Please raise awareness on the topics of miscarriage, trauma, loss, and grief.

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About the author

Laura Bennett

Laura Bennett

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2 Comments

  • I completely understand sis. I have felt a huge amount of guilt in grief over the last three years. But especially now, I know that those moments of joy and peace are just a gift. God knows we wouldn’t survive if there wasn’t any hope, if there were absolutely no reasons to live through another day. Those moments give your heart the chance to breathe and heal so that it won’t be torn apart in the next moment. One thing I’ve learned is you are never past the grieving process. Yes, day to day life gets easier, and yes, you do get to a point where it’s not constantly on your mind, but you never know when you will see something that throws you back under the dark waves of grief. So many times I have asked myself how I can still be in so much pain, but then I realize that every time I see a 2 year old it might remind me of Rachel or Michael and all the years I have lost. That will never go away. It will just continue to change. It might be the simplest thing that completely overwhelms you, but it’s okay. I will never stop grieving, and I will never stop thanking God that I had the chance to be pregnant with my three.

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