Leave it to Pixar to explain my feelings better than I'm able to do myself. If you haven't seen the new movie "Inside Out", I encourage you to see it. It applies to everyone with its excellent description of the emotions within all of us. For me, it helped to give a voice to my own roller coaster of crazy.
I experience so many feelings throughout the course of the day, and all of them stem from my grief in one way or another. But, that doesn't necessarily mean that I'm "sad." In fact, I'm never just "sad." It's true that I have really awful moments in which the pain of my grief threatens to swallow me up and propel me into some kind of dark abyss. However, it's also true that I have incredibly joyous moments. In fact, I don't believe I had experienced true happiness in a moment until I lost my child. That sounds very strange, and writing it even feels wrong, but then...it's true.
The thing is, I'm everything all at once. It's exhausting, but it's also just the way that it is now. I have incredible moments with my family in which I'm so humbled and grateful for the experience, but simultaneously angry and hurt at the piece that is missing. One emotion does not negate the other, and I believe they're both equally important to the process. In fact, I think you NEED one to accompany the other.
I think at the beginning of this journey, I too, believed that there was only room for one emotion. For instance, anger couldn't have a partner, and I was confused when it did. It felt "wrong" to be angry and happy at the same time, and not at the hands of anyone else. That feeling of shame came from my biggest critic...me.
I have never before appreciated the happy moments in life with such depth and gratitude, but I think it is BECAUSE of the pain that accompanies the joy. Each moment I experience with my other children feels like a stolen gift, and one that will always be tainted by the loss of my son. On the other hand, his absence makes me appreciate their presence that much more. They're such incredible little people, and I feel as though I can see that much more clearly from my new "grieving mother" perspective.
My husband and I are still navigating each day as it comes. Some days are good, and some just aren't. Sometimes we take turns, and other times we've both got nothing left. We can now recognize the moments of pain in one another and are occasionally able to attend to the needs of the other person. And sometimes, we can't. What we have seems deeper, stronger, and ironically more broken than ever before. Broken, but not shattered. And maybe we each have enough broken pieces to put them together and create something new.
I know that our lives will always carry with them, the burden of pain and loss. But I also know that though some days that burden will be more than I can bear, sometimes it will be that thing for which I am most grateful.