By: Alishia Anderson
Content Warning: This article discusses grief, hope, and healing after pregnancy and infant loss. This information may be triggering – please go at your own pace.
“Grieve in a way that feels authentic to you. But most importantly don’t allow grief to paralyze you into inaction. Move towards healing no matter if you have to run, jog, walk, crawl, or inch towards it”.
Being a mom inducted into the Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) club – a club no parent ever volunteers to be a part of – was not in my plans for my introduction into motherhood. Never in a million years did I think I would hold a baby in my womb, nurture him, grow closer to him, and love him unconditionally only for my time with him to be cut short here on earth. My name is Alishia Anderson and I am a bereaved mother to my firstborn son DJ (Derrek Jr.), who was born stillborn at 28-weeks’ gestation, January 18, 2016.
After laboring for three days DJ made his debut. He was born into pure silence, on the most bittersweet day of my life. DJ’s aura filled the room and his presence illuminated the space even though he wasn’t breathing or making a sound. He was my real-life angel. I tried to cram a lifetime of memories into a few short hours (i.e. hand/footprints, photographs, cuddling time, examining his lifeless body, praying and dedicating him back to God etc.) before his body turned cold. I was on borrowed time, and I knew I had to make each moment count.
When it was time for our final goodbyes my heart sank, and the tears welled up in my eyes immediately. No parent should ever have to endure this level of heartbreak. When the nurse rolled DJ’s body out of our room for the last time she not only rolled out my firstborn son, she rolled out my future with him and all his firsts I would never get to experience.
To be a parent of loss is to experience heartache, sadness, anger, envy, frustration, hopelessness, confusion, shock, envy, jealousy, disassociation, guilt, shame etc. But it can also mean experiencing feelings of gratitude and extreme love for your child you had to say goodbye to, too soon.
While grief is an ever-changing, life altering passenger that will never fully dissipate; I’ve found ways to lean into grief on my road towards healing. Some practical things I’ve implemented into my healing plan have included chronicling my journey through writing – journal entries and even self-publishing a book, sharing my son’s story to whomever would listen, granting myself permission to sit in my feelings without judgement, seeking support through a therapist, prayer, and grounding myself in God’s word.
This road traveled is not an easy one, but it is not an impossible one to walk. Remember to continue to put one foot in front of the other each day. Some days you may need to take a detour on your healing journey or even stop and take a break. Create boundaries. Ask for help. Communicate your needs. Allocate space for falling apart, and allow your heart to break. Grieve in a way that feels authentic to you. But most importantly don’t allow grief to paralyze you into inaction. Move towards healing no matter if you have to run, jog, walk, crawl, or inch towards it.