I started to reply to everyone individually, but there just aren't enough hours in the day. Yet, I really want you all to know what amazing people you are, so wise, so compassionate, so insightful. Your words and support were so helpful to me. Reading your replies truly brought me "aha! moments", I am still shaking my head and saying "yes!", "they get it!".
The majority of you are also at the point where the years of early intense grief have passed and many of you offered that you were struggling with similar doubts. Doubts about your current ways of mothering your heavenly children, guilt over feeling happiness, the lack of tears & heavy heartache, trouble getting beyond the self imposed rituals of the past, and many other things.
I thought it might be helpful to you if I shared some of great comments I received. Maybe they will help you accept where you're at too, or maybe they will help you help others. Here are just a few quotes (without identifying the sources):
"I don't know that I ever thought the grief would end, I know I didn't ever think this in the early days, but what I hadn't known is that it would change and grow as much as it has. I've learned that for me, it isn't something that one day just gets packaged up and left behind somewhere. I am who I am because my children died. Whatever I experience since then they are there too, even if I'm distancing myself from the deep feelings and taking some time for me. Maybe again, it is like it would be if they were alive, we moms need time to ourselves that is just our own. Maybe that is also true when parenting a child who has died. I think the hard part is balancing these two different kinds of parenting - that of living children with that of children that have died. There are many many differences of course, but maybe there are more similarities than we previously knew could exist."
And one last message:
Pretty amazing stuff, huh? Obviously, you know what I am describing and really understand. There is a wisdom that is so far beyond that of "normal" people...
Your comments really helped me feel ok about where I'm at right now. I had envisioned what those specials days would always be like, and the never-ending role I would play in them. When that didn't happen as I had planned, I was completely caught up in the "woulda, coulda, shouldas". (and tremendous guilt). And yes, I was completed exhausted by it too. But what I hadn't realized was that I had changed, my grief had changed, and what was once "right" for me and Natalie, wasn't "right" anymore. I don't love her any less, I'm just mothering her in a different way, a more matured, less emotional, more insightful way. Almost as if the strong heartache has been replaced by a sense of peace, a calmness that now comes with my thoughts of her.
I was thinking that I had to be the one in control, all the time. (I am a bit of a control addict anyway!) Carefully choosing when the tears will come, when I will remember... But in reality, it just doesn't always work that way. As Natalie's Cardiologist wrote, "It's in cases like this we are reminded, we are not always in control after all". I think I'll try just to let go of some of the expectations ~ some of the guilt ~ and just accept the way I feel and the way it is. THIS is "normal" for me.
So, instead of forcing myself to open the door to her memories and the pain that will forever live inside me, I think I will wait until it opens on it's own. When the time is right, it will happen.
Thank you, thank you for your honesty, reassurance, and support. You are truly amazing women....
Hugs to every one of you,