Grief Series - Stage One: Combatting Emptiness

This blog is the first of a series on grief. Grief, as we know, is a series of stages people go through when someone they love, dies. Simply put, it is the process of experiencing a loss. The first stage of grief is denial. While we may not experience this stage in the same way you would if someone died, we do experience it in a different way.

Birth moms are well acquainted with the feeling of emptiness. For birth moms, it is a numbing feeling, especially when we leave the hospital empty-handed. For me, the emptiness was most prevalent during the first couple months after I placed my birth son. Post-placement is grueling, and no one can properly prepare you for those emotions. In addition, just because you leave the stage of grief, does not mean you will not revisit it later on. Grief, especially for us, is all over the place; it is chaotic and spontaneous in nature.

There are things that can get you through the emptiness feeling. You will experience this many times, so it is good to remind yourself of what to do when it hits you. The main point is this: find something meaningful to fill your time.

So, I have made a list. (I am a huge fan of lists, by the way)

1. Join a support group 
Whether it is online (go to the forum page!), or in your area (go to the resources page!), it is a great way to treat your emptiness. I am no doctor, but I can tell you from experience. It feels great to connect with women that have experienced your exact feelings. We all come from different walks of life, we are different in literally every way - but we are all birth moms and we all grieved for our children. I may cry my eyes out during the entire meeting at times, but I feel as refreshed as the morning sun when I walk out. I could not recommend this more!

2. Write
Grab a piece of paper, a journal, a computer, or a chisel and stone! Write down your experience. Whether you share it publicly or keep it private, it is healthy to share your feelings. This is one thing I did even while I was pregnant. Sometimes your writing may be dark, but in a few months or years, you can look back and see how far you have come. I like to write a card to myself and open it a year later, to remember the state I was in, and remind myself that I am still here. Reading what I wrote in the past often gives me the motivation to fight through it.

3. Exercise
During and after my pregnancy, my mother and I would go on walks around the neighborhood. In those first six weeks postpartum, it is hard to exercise because your body has just performed an incredible feat. Because of this incredible feat, your body feels considerably less than incredible. Please don’t forget to take care of yourself physically. Walking is a nice way to get your blood pumping, and it doesn’t typically strain you too much. Once your body is healed and ready, do a fun workout video, or go on a light jog. Most importantly, go outside, be active, and give yourself that fresh air your body deserves!

4. Get artsy
I play a few different musical instruments, but during my pregnancy, I was depressed and I refused to play them. I also enjoy painting and doing things to feed my creativity, but I never did that during my pregnancy either. Sometimes I wonder how different my experience would have been if I would have self-soothed by doing these things. There is something about being interactive and working with your hands that helps that emptiness feeling. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be creative, simply get on Pinterest and see how bad you can fail at one of those DIY projects!

5. Volunteer
Anyone can give their time and energy to others in need. Giving back to your community not only helps those in need, but it is therapeutic for you. It also puts struggle in perspective for you. I always thought I had it so bad, and then I started sharing my story and I realized that everyone has problems and struggles they face everyday. Life is an uphill battle, and if you can offer a hand to someone in need, we can all help our broken souls make it to the finish line with our head held high.

Everyone has a different way of coping with the emptiness feeling, but it is simple: Whatever thing you love to do, and whatever thing you are passionate about, do that thing.**

Finally, if you have something you love to do, and it keeps the emptiness feeling away, comment below and share it!

** Just sitting at home binge watching The Office on Netflix does not count. I know, I am also passionate about Jim Halpert, but please be active!