By: Rebecca Stockwell
A close friend had a baby a few weeks before my son was born. We live a few hours from each other, so I wasn’t around for most of her milestones. When she was seven months old, we were invited to her baptism and to spend the night at her house. We don’t practice the same faith, but something about this event left me feeling incredibly sad. Not only did I feel sad, but I felt resentful that my friend didn’t acknowledge that this might be hard for me.
Truthfully, I was caught off guard by the way I felt. I hadn’t thought about it being difficult to witness and it wasn’t something I planned on doing with my own children. But it was the first time I realized there would be a whole lifetime of things I wouldn’t be able to experience with my son.
The thing I find most useful is simply acknowledging to myself that the event I’m attending (a baptism, kindergarten graduation, birthday) will be hard and not judging myself for it.
Sometimes we run from those feelings because we feel bad for being sad during a happy event, but the truth is those two emotions can live together at the same time. I could be happy for my friend and her daughter and sad that my son was not with me and wouldn’t have a similar experience.
And sometimes I have to excuse myself from certain things because it’s just too hard. When I go to weddings I quietly get up and walk away (go to the bathroom, get an appetizer, or simply go for a walk) during the mother son dance. It’s too much for me. I cried uncontrollable when my cousin danced with his mother at his wedding and that’s the last time I watched a mother son dance. I’m so happy for the groom but the emotion it brings up in me is too great to contain. I wasn’t even able to watch my mom and brother and his wedding. Sometimes I feel a little weird walking away, but it helps me keep my head in a celebratory place for the rest of the reception.
Over the past 10 years I have learned what works for me. Be gentle with yourself as you go on this journey and are finding what work’s for you.
About Rebecca Stockwell
Rebecca, RN, is the author of the “Guide for Trusting You Body After Miscarriage.” Stockwell’s own experience with pregnancy loss, and insights from other women who have lost babies during pregnancy, prompted her to create the guide, which is aimed at helping bereaved mamas feel in control of their bodies again.
Stockwell has enjoyed a career as nurse since 2005, which helped feed her desire for preventative health and wellness as a means to living her most fulfilled and joyful life. She is an avid gardener and fitness enthusiast, and is training for her first triathlon this spring.
Stockwell lives in Vermont with her husband and two daughters.