When Smiles Happen

I smiled today. And probably laughed too. It made me realize that I’ve written a lot here of the pain and sadness of miscarriage, but perhaps not enough about what happens as we’ve move through the grief (notice I didn’t say past, as I’m not sure we’ll ever truly be past it).

Each loss brought on its own bout of sadness and emotion. And as one loss became two became three, these bouts became deeper, longer, harsher. By the time we got to four, it was the sheer magnitude of losing our baby at 16 weeks 6 days, combined without the pent up emotion and shock of having been down this road three times before, that put this loss into a category of its own. Those first days, weeks, months, it was hard to imagine that we’d ever laugh again. Ever make a joke. Or even crack a smile. It reminds me — on a much different level, mind you — of Carrie in the Sex and the City movie. “Will I ever laugh again?” she asks Miranda. “Yes, when something is really funny,” she replied. And while it didn’t take someone pooping their pants to cause that first smile, it did happen.

I don’t remember exactly when, or what it was. But what I do remember is feeling guilty. How dare I smile or laugh, or *gasp* have a good time when my baby died? How could I be so inconsiderate to her life, or lack of life? What would others think about me being happy again? During those early days, that feeling would make me feel even worse (didn’t know THAT was possible) and I’d spiral back down to a bad place. In my mind, by enjoying myself and getting back to life, albeit a changed life, I wasn’t properly honoring their memory. And so I was a bad person. A very bad person. Which equaled a bad mom. And when I felt like I really didn’t even have the chance to truly be a mom,* feeling like a bad one, is not a good thing.

But the thing is, it kept happening. I’d find myself smiling. And then I’d laugh again, or do something I enjoyed doing. And then we’d do a little more. I guess at some point it dawned on me that just because I’m moving forward, it didn’t mean that I was moving on (I guarantee you that Double A and my therapist had a little something to do with that realization). Our babies’ memories will be with us always. No matter where we go or what we do. Sure, there will always be a little sting for all that we missed out on with each of them, but they will always be a part of us. A part of our family.

We realized that laughing, smiling and enjoying life again was actually a way to honor the babies. It’s also a way of helping others, to show that we survived the devastation and pain, and we’re still here. Life does, in fact, go on. Smiles do happen. And it isn’t only when something really funny happens (although it doesn’t hurt).

* I know I AM a mom. What I meant here is that I never had the opportunity to truly bond, interact and experience all of the things that those who have living children have experienced.


5 thoughts on “When Smiles Happen

  1. Pingback: Is this a beginning? « The Chaotic Soul

  2. Isn’t this a strangely tricky thing? Like you have to hang onto to your sadness to properly honor your lost child, losing that is losing them all over again in a way. And what face you present to the world has been tricky for me too — on the one hand, I want to be strong and embrace life and not, well, be a total debbie downer in every social situation or make my loved ones worry about me. But then I didn’t want people to mistake that what I had been through was no big deal, that my loss was not real or the source of a tremendous amount of pain.

    I’m glad that you are finding joy and laughter in your life. I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot lately… “When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.”

    • What a great quote, thank you for sharing that. It IS a strangely tricky thing. I’ve found that the further away we get, the more people look at us like, it’s almost been a year now, why are you still sad and acting weird? As if there’s a time limit on grief. It is a hard line to walk — dealing with the on-going feelings of loss all while dealing with on-going daily life. Some days I can balance that line, and some days I fall off. But I still walk. And now I’ll walk with that quote in mind.

  3. I’m so sorry for your losses. I’m so sorry you had to say good bye to your daughter so soon. I’m glad you realized that laughing again doesn’t dishonor her memory. I’m glad you realized that moving through your grief does not mean leaving her behind.

    You honor her every day, in big and little ways. You honor her writing here. You honor all your children, all the time.

    Thank you for sharing this. And thank you for commenting on my blog. I look forward to following you.

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