Navigating life and work in the face of loss and grief
In the Spring of 2019, I wrote a piece on Medium titled “We Don’t Deserve Dogs”. The truth is, it was also really about my late-term pregnancy loss. However, even a year later when I wrote this piece, I wasn’t ready to talk about it.
I had experienced loss before, mostly in the form of loved ones who had lived long and full lives. Thus, losing my first child at 20 weeks pregnant completely shook my world, and I wasn’t the same person afterward.
As I worked through the most acute and painful feelings, I naively had the sense that this was going to be my “one great loss” in life. Almost as if to say, “Okay Universe, I’ve put in my time; now, lightning can’t strike twice…can it?”
And this isn’t a spoiler alert, reader, as no doubt you know that it can and will continue to happen.
Since writing that article, I’ve experienced additional losses in the five years that followed - several more pregnancy losses, failed IVFs, and a very traumatic loss of our puppy in 2022 (Meru, not Panda. Panda is still doing great and is always close on my heels).
I’m now a parent. So, in addition to needing to properly grieve, pick myself off the floor, and continue with life and work, I now feel the desire to do this for my child as well.
I now also know that loss and grief are very much a part of life and will continue to happen.
A UCSF grief and trauma counselor once described life and grief to me as two side-by-side train tracks forever running parallel, and you just need to figure out how to live, bouncing back and forth.
I bounce to the grief train track on key dates (birthdays, anniversaries) and stay there until the feelings work their way through.
Recently, I listened to Sam Sanders talk about loss and grief on the “2023, Don’t Let the Door Hit You…” episode of the Vibe Check podcast (starting at the 41:09 mark).
I was struck by how Sam is working through his losses and, in turn, how he’s choosing to live with these losses going forward. The whole section on loss and grief is worth listening to (as is the whole episode IMO!). Here is just one of my favorite parts: When everything we love will eventually leave us or we will leave it, what do we do in the face of that hard truth? A lot of us can choose to love less, to pull away, to never get too attached, as we will lose that person or animal eventually. The alternative is to love more, knowing time is limited. To savor every moment and make memories.
What have you turned to as a resource during your own experiences with loss and grief? How have you managed to continue living and working? Please share if you are moved to and take care of yourself.