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Right after Eliana died I was understandably desperate for a baby in my arms. I thought, and cried, and agonized over trying again right away. Some to whom I looked for advice said it would be a huge mistake, that I needed time to heal first. Others, mainly moms who did have another child soon after losing one, said it could be incredibly healing to have another baby as a comfort for the loss. I put it off, and procrastinated, and deliberated so long that I made a decision by default.

I also realized that I would not be able to handle the knowledge that a new baby would only be there because Eliana was not. My hat is off to all the women who handle it beautifully. I just knew that I wouldn’t. In the end, I decided to wait until at least the same amount of time had passed as there was between the other kids. That meant that according to my timeline, I was free to try around August.

Now, five months later, I am still paralyzed in fear over the very idea of it. I want a baby, of course. What I don’t want is the nine months of terror over the possibility of losing it. Knowing that one minute, day, or month of time could mean the difference between a healthy child and one that will die and destroy me with grief leaves me frozen, unable to move forward, and trapped by indecision. What if we pick the wrong moment? So again, I keep putting it off, and sit here wondering how long I can keep this up.

I’m not ancient, but I’m not getting any younger either. I know the chances of birth defects go up the longer I wait, and the chances of conceiving go down. It’s going on two years now since she came and went. Is it possible that another two years could come and go just as quickly and just as babyless because I’m too scared to take the chance?

I don’t know how to do this. I didn’t know how to make it through my grief. I don’t know how to make it through my fear. I don’t know how to make it through a pregnancy without going crazy. And I hate, hate, hate that the only way is to just do it. Here’s me having a conversation with Nike: Them-“Just do it.”  Me-“I can’t. I haven’t planned it out yet, and I can’t predict the outcome. I’d rather not do it, thanks.”

I of all people realize that grief and healing are a lifelong journey, not a destination or a goal. I’m not going to wake up one morning and be “okay” or “ready.” But it sure would be nice to feel a little bit more ready than I do right now. How long would I have to wait though? I’ve already been waiting a long time. Would that feeling of readiness ever actually materialize?

I am scared. I’m just so very scared because I know what it’s like to lose my child. Part of me says to just trust God.

But that’s what I did the last time.

I would like to respond to one of the comments posted recently, and address some of the concerns people seem to be having about me, my life, and my writing. Sorry for the length, and the bluntness, but I had to get this off my chest.

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As a matter of fact, I have experienced death, many times over. Of course I am aware that death has at some point touched most of us. All I can tell you is that losing a child goes so far above and beyond the grief I have felt over the other deaths, that I do not feel adequate to describe the pain. This blog is my attempt to do so.

Deaths I hear about on the news do in fact cause me much concern. So much so that I have a difficult time watching it without crying. But there is a limit to how much a person can do from afar. With information being shared globally now, I think most of us have had to put up a wall of sorts. To allow ourselves to feel this depth of grief for every death we hear about would make us want to curl up and die too, not motivate us to fight for something better.

I understand that many people don’t care about lives not affecting their own, but I am not one of those people. I tend to care too much, to the point that I have to be careful not to overextend myself helping others to the detriment of my own family. I realize many people reading this don’t know me personally, but that should be even more reason to be cautious not to categorize me erroneously.

Most people avoid death. That is part of being human. People who wish death for themselves or others and act on that wish are considered mentally ill, and we try to help them. A deep respect for life naturally leads to an avoidance of death. Sometimes it’s a fine line between when to keep fighting and when to let go. Of course death is a part of life, but no parent welcomes the death of their child. We can speak in grandiose terms about accepting death, but it is much easier to accept for a person who has lived a long and full life, than for a child just barely starting theirs.

Grief is hard, painful, sometimes debilitating work. It takes time. It takes energy. This blog is part of my grief work. My writing is what accepting life and death looks like. It is making room for all the pain, so that it doesn’t crowd out the other things in my life. I know many people get concerned about me when I write the way I do. But guess what? This is reality. I do not write about the good stuff, because I don’t need an outlet for positive feelings. This is a journey of grief, remember? Not the journey of my whole life, just this aspect of it.

I am not going to sugar-coat what I am going through to make other people more comfortable. This is what losing a child feels like. This is what it does to a life. This is how horrible and agonizing it is to experience it. I am much more concerned about the people who bury all their feelings down inside and don’t ever let them out, than I am about myself. The feelings are there no matter what. Healthy behavior is to acknowledge them, experience them for what they are, let them run their course, and they will mellow on their own. Grief left unexpressed, like pressure inside a bottle, will explode unexpectedly if not relieved from time to time.

I know many, many people who have lost children. I can assure you that I am not grieving any harder, or longer, or deeper than any of them. There are people years, or even decades, into their grief that are still expressing the same feelings that I am. We will not ever be normal again. This is the new us. You can get used to it, or you may choose to step away. We do not have the luxury of that choice. We cannot choose to step away from our pain. It is our new adornment, a weight hanging around our necks. It is permanent. We will not ever “get over it.” We will not ever “snap out of it.” We will not ever be the people we were before. And we will not ever, ever stop grieving for our children. This is who we are now, take it or leave it.

Some of us are not strong enough to stand up to the people telling us things “for our own good” and “because they care.” Some of us don’t have the energy or courage to respond to the hurtful, thoughtless comments that people make. Some of us try not to make waves by objecting to the rude, insensitive behavior displayed by people who are supposed to love us, or by people who don’t even know us. So I will do this not only for me, but for everyone I know who got pulled kicking and screaming down this road that is so scary the average person won’t even think about the possibility of having to travel it. We walk this road every day. We are bloody, and bruised, and broken, and yet we have to keep walking, on and on, without our children.

I will not be silent. I will not keep my grief contained in the privacy of my home. I will not pretend I’m fine when I’m not. I will not hide away like some sort of monster, only allowed back out when I can appear normal again. I am going to speak up, so that the next time you run into someone going through this, or it happens to your friend, or maybe you lose your own child, you will know that this is what is normal. This is what grief looks like, and it’s ugly. But we can’t go around it. We can only go through it, step by aching step.

If you want to look, and listen, and learn, then I welcome you to keep reading, hard as it may be. If you don’t, you are welcome to stick your head back in the sand. But our pain is our reality, whether you choose to accept it, or look the other way. If you can’t handle walking next to us on this dark road we are on, and choose not to, we understand. We would have chosen a different road too, if we had been given a choice.

I wrote this 3 1/2 months after Eliana died. I realize that I’m probably depressing the heck out of everyone who reads this, but hey, it is a journey of grief, right? Anyway, I guess writing is my way of letting out all of these horrible, dark, depressing feelings. Doing so relieves the pressure a bit, otherwise it just leaks out or explodes at other times. Better let it out in my writing than in my life. Thanks for bearing with me.

This started out as a poem, but I like it better as song lyrics, so I changed it around a bit. This is my first completed song. Now if I could just find someone who writes great music….

What’s Left

by Deanna Parish

I prayed at your bedside

and wept myself dry.

Now I’m left here grieving

and wondering why.

If God’s in control,

then why did you die?

A reason for everything

just feels like a lie.

So what now? What’s left?

Just a shadow of myself

and the agony of your death.

What now? What’s left?

A lifetime of pain spent waiting

to take my final breath.

Now I spend my days

just wanting you here

and I spend my nights

with your ghost and my tears.

I hate my new self;

full of sorrow and tears.

I hate my new life;

because nothing is clear.

So what now? What’s left?

Just a shadow of myself

and the agony of your death.

What now? What’s left?

A lifetime of pain spent waiting

to take my final breath.

I’m tired of feeling

like there’s no end in sight

of the absence of joy

and the absence of light.

I’m tired of knowing

this will never be made right.

I’m tired of the aching

and I’m tired of the fight.

So what now? What’s left?

Just a shadow of myself

and the agony of your death.

What now? What’s left?

A lifetime of pain spent waiting

to take my final breath.

You’re gone,

so what’s left?

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