Grieving rightish

We are in Los Angeles now after a wonderful time spent in Pismo Beach from Bolinas. It was foggy most of the drive once we hit San Francisco all the way to Pismo. The drive turned from beach to floating in the clouds. It was magical. In Pismo the fog continued but lifted just in time for us to catch an incredible sunset from the pier.

Thursdays are usually when we have our appointments with our therapist. Our intentions were to create our own therapy session just the two of us as this is the first time in four weeks we haven’t had a meeting with her. Our DIY session was Carlos and I sitting on the foggy beach this morning, holding Sylvia, looking through pictures of her that we brought and crying. How can this be our life. Holding our daughter, in her urn, on a beach, while we look at the last and only pictures taken of her. She had Carlos’ toes. Why does she never get to feel sand with them? Or grass? Or run through our house with them? Why are we looking at pictures of our daughter’s toes instead of kissing them and tickling them? Why am I not covering them with socks and booties anticipating fall weather instead of sobbing because I never will? Why do I never get to have her pick out a nail polish for me to paint her toe nails? 

On this trip it seems like everything I see or that we do I say to myself that Sylvia would have loved this. Then I remember that if she were here, this trip wouldn’t have happened. What a bizarre, confusing reality.

We started seeing our therapist a couple weeks after Sylvia died and our sessions are exhausting to say the least. People always ask if it helps. No, not really in the sense that I feel better. But it doesn’t hurt. Carlos and I have incredible communication, for which I am so thankful for, and so a part of both of us questioned how much we would get from talking about our daughter’s death to a stranger. Carlos always says, ‘If 95% of it we can figure out ourselves, but she can get us through the last 5%, then it is worth it’. She has made me feel like some of the really, really bizarre unexpected emotions that I have had are within the range of normal and uses science and psychology to explain them to me. She has held us on ideas, emotions and conversations that Carlos and I alone might have brushed over a little quicker. She digs deeper, she gets emotions out that I didn’t know I had words for. It has set a routine for our completely routine-less weeks. So is it helping? Not in the quantifiable sense that I am any better necessarily, but it is doing something that is important for our present and future. Yes. Seeing a therapist is a good thing to do. Yes. It is the healthy thing to do. Yes. I know that. But it doesn’t really make the process or our day-to-day any better because I really don’t know if there is a ‘better’. There is the people we were before Sylvia died, and there is the people we are now. I think there is a ‘forward’ and there is a ‘change’ but I don’t know if that is the same, in this case, as ‘better’. You know when you are seeing someone do something the hard way and you think, wow this person is really making their life so much more difficult and wasting so much time, if only they knew the right way. So with grief, even though Carlos and I are doing things the ‘right way’ according to us, by going to a counselor, talking independently, me writing this blog, going on a trip and nurturing relationships with each other, family and friends, it doesn’t make our process any easier. There are hard ways to grieve that might make the situation worse I suppose, but the opposite doesn’t necessarily make it better. I don’t know if there is any situation like this where the right and wrong way are still just as horrible, just as painful and just as scary. What value does right and wrong as an adjective even have when the subject is so personal, so emotional and so individual? Our right way is someone else’s wrong. A therapist may be a terrible idea for some. Writing things out in the weird world of the internet is someones nightmare. There are no instructions for grief. There is no right way or wrong way or up or down or left or right. It is just there.

I have started reaching out, slowly, to the community that we are now a part of with infant and child losses. Its terrifying and so sad. But it feels good. Their right way of grieving might not be our right way of grieving but their pain is the closest any one can feel to ours. I look at these women, families and stories in a statistic that no one wants to be a part of and I feel hope and love. Its beautiful, peaceful and the only sense of calm about the road ahead that I have felt in 7 weeks. Our grief pattern and path may change and thats normal. We are going to keep doing our right way, which is still the hard way, and grieve how it feels right.

The first two pictures are from Stinson Beach on our last night in Bolinas, then driving south over a foggy Golden Gate Bridge, a foggy Bixby Bridge outside Big Sur, lunch in Carmel-by-the-Sea, sunset in Pismo, delicious dinner in Pismo and sunset under the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles.

Teresa MendozaComment