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Good Grief.

Today we remembered Baby Rose, and I am sad. 6 years after her stillbirth, I miss her just as much as when we first lost her. Not as constantly, but just as deeply.

We have grief all wrong in our culture. Here, it’s something to be avoided or ignored. It’s uncomfortable and taboo to mention out loud. So often it’s the person who has lost someone who ends up apologizing for the loss to other people when they are so thick in grief it’s hard to function, rather than the other way around.

I remember meeting a new neighbor for the first time. I was introducing my kids, and she introduced her little girl. Then, she blurted out, “I have another little girl. Had another little girl. She was 5 when she died. It was only a year ago.” I was silent, digesting the sadness of her loss. She continued, “I’m so sorry. Sometimes I just blurt that out. I don’t know why, I’m so sorry. I don’t know why I said that.” So then I said, “I lost a daughter in childbirth. I had complications, and they had to induce her to save me. She died. I blurt that out sometimes, too, so don’t be sorry.” It was her turn to be silent. Then we both started laughing and crying all at once.

Just as death is the flip side of life, grief is the flip side of love. You don’t grieve what you don’t love. And when we try, as society silently implies, to bury the grief and ‘move past’ the loss…it only succeeds in burying and moving past the tender love that we once had and still endures. That is a tragic trade off.

I was and still am fortunate to have a handful of people around who supported me and honored the difficult process of healing from the loss of Baby Rose. This is important because to really get through it intact, I found that grief needs to be active. It’s not all about emotions, but also about doing something that your heart feels is right.

Some people build things. Other people form foundations to help support other people going through the same things. My dear friend over at ‘A View From Here’ blogged about making jam.

I’ve found a good outlet for my active grief is my flower garden. It’s not big–size isn’t the point–but it’s a place where I go and do something with my hands. I work with the rhythms of nature. I wait expectantly for the blooms, savor the beauty of the full flowers, am saddened when they wither and fade, despair when the cold winter comes, and then feel joyful when spring comes around again to make everything green and alive. Hope, loss, grief, all the way round to hope again. The cycle is comforting to me. Plus, the flowers don’t want to change the topic when I go out to think about Baby Rose. They don’t get uncomfortable when my tears come. They listen patiently without saying a word, which is sometimes all a friend can do.

My creation