Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The tides of grief.

Have you all heard of the waves of grief?  If not, let me introduce you to them. My first encounter with them was the moment Dr. Van Marter came into my post-partum room that first night to tell us of Ethan's grave prognosis.  It was as if I had been walking along the shore, right before a storm came, and things had seemed relatively calm.  I had even ordered and eaten dinner that night.  And out of nowhere a tsunami came and washed me away...away from the world I had known where babies lived and were healthy.

This is what I have learned about grief.  Grief is tidal.  Substitute my pain for the ocean and you have the periodic rise and falling of my pain.

The decent days are comparable to low tide.  (I knew I always preferred low tide.)  The gentle waves washing over the smooth sand.  The waves being ever present, just like Ethan's absence.  When I'm having a "good" day, I may not even hear the sounds of the gentle waves crashing unless I turn my attention towards it.  Much like the dull ache of my son's death being ever present, but perhaps no longer the immediate thought on my mind.  A sign that I am healing, I believe.  Low tide are the "good" days.

High tide is unavoidable.  The moon does its thing and pulls the pain towards me.  Waves are no longer gently crashing, but now the surf is rough.  The pain of Ethan's death, his absence in my day-to-day life, is more raw.  I can't outrun the high tide, it always catches me in the end.  When things are really bad (like the weeks leading up to my due date and those before we spread Ethan's ashes), the waves beat down on the sand.  Forever changing the landscape of the beach, of my soul.  Those truly awful times feel like I am sitting on the beach, at high tide, during a hurricane.  The pain is so intense I wonder if things will ever subside, if I will ever catch my breath again, if my sobbing will ever quiet.  But it always does, somehow.

The tides of grief, they are exhausting.  I have done my best to face this grief head on.  To allow each painful wave, at low or high tide, to wash over me.  To feel the pain, so I can move through it...instead of around it.  With Ethan's death I lost countless opportunities to change his diaper (I did that just twice), to burp him, nurse him.  I can't care for Ethan, the least I can do is grieve for him.


  1. I am in absolute flipping awe. You have the most beautiful way with words... just drawing the reader in. It's beautiful Annie... thank You!

  2. Annie, I am so very sorry for the great loss of your sweet boy Ethan. Remember that by you writing and talking about your loss you are doing an amazing thing for other woman who may be grieving and suffering as well. Keep writing. It is truly beautiful. My husband and I have been thinking about you, Josh and your Ethan. Lots of love to you and your family.-Caroline Connelly

  3. This is absolutely beautiful and powerful! I love the imagery. At some point, you really ought to think about writing a book about your journey through/with grief.

    1. Thank you Kim. It blows my mind to think that people find my honesty and writing possibly good enough for a book. perhaps someday, if others still hold that opinion, that could happen. i know that i found a great deal of comfort in a book another woman (who is an author by trade) wrote of her experience having a stillborn baby and grieving in the first year.

  4. I agree with Evan, Annie.