Friday, December 14, 2012


last year i bought a tree from the church lot up the block. i dried the roses from nathaniel's service and put the petals in clear ornaments, and decorated the tree with these. we put lights on the house. the energy of the grief pushed me forward. nathaniel was gone five months christmas day.

this year, the living room is full of boxes. empty and flattened, most of them right now. we've spent most nights these past months at the farm. i commute about 40 minutes to and from the city now.

i honestly don't know how i feel about it. most days i just feel confused and overwhelmed. we bought a farm. i moved my city chickens out there. the dogs. the cat. we have some furniture at the farm house. books. my art supplies. i bought and have been raising 10 ducklings. i bought 4 geese.

i like the birds. i hate the commute.

i'm trying to get the city house packed up but every time i try i get so stressed out. i don't know if it's going to happen. there's a deeper sense of inertia now - some leaden force that binds me in place.

i try to motivate my world by imagining some beautiful life that probably would have never been had nathaniel lived. 11 acres on an island. my own studio. but it feels like someone else's life that i'm trying to put on, like a jacket that looks great on the model but might not fit me. like some shitty consolation prize.

i don't know if it's just because of the holidays or if it's something else. if my body reacts to the moving with anxiety and pain, do i just then stay put? or do i push forward through the pain and try to imagine a different life? try to invent myself again?

i am still grieving in my body intensely. the pain is back in my breath today. i've actually had some success working with my breath for about the past month, which is amazing because i couldn't work with my breath for more than a year after nathaniel died, and my breath had been my number one coping skill for years. i've had some success with just slowing waaaaay down. walking very slowly. bringing mindfulness to my movements. but some days the anxiety just picks up and shakes my being, and it feels like my world could come apart with one or two sentences.

i know the stress is not good for my fertility. i know the stress is not good for me at all. but i can't seem to get away from it.

what do you do to manage the stress of grief?


  1. Your tree from last year sounds so beautiful. I don't know how to manage the stress of grief, either. Do you have to pack up the city house now? Can you wait? Do you need to push forward now? You might - I did for various reasons, and I'm sure you have yours - but if you don't have to, don't push. You need all the rest of us dead baby moms to come and help you pack. Drink tea together, cry over it all, laugh at the stuff that we would be pissed off about it if someone who doesn't get it laughed at. The stress of being stressed is the very worst and I feel it too and wish I could help. Love to you in this hard season.

  2. Wow...really I would love to see pictures of your farm. I think it sounds wonderful and relaxing but that is because it is not my project, move, upheaval. reinventing yourself....hmmm.... we certainly are not the people we used to be, we can never go back. I often wonder what we can regain from our former selves. I know I am still me but I have been transformed in a way that only other people who have walked this path can understand. reinventing sounds right, I can imagine getting stiffled. frozen. i get that way often with projects...and your project is a whole life change. How is the rest of your family getting along with the change? and totally curious about what island you live on...The birds sound pretty awesome. I am sorry you are at a crossroads even though you've already started down a path with the fork far behind you.

  3. I love how you decorated your tree last year.

    There are days when meditation and breathing exercices helps me, and then there are days when the grief is just too much and nothing helps. People in my life tell me its not good for my pregnancy and baby (which of course I already know) and that I need to put Liam in the back of my mind and calm down. As if it were a simple mental decision to calm down, and as if I would ever want to put Liam in the back of my mind.

    With such a big move from the city to the country, and another Christmas without Nathaniel, it's no wonder you're feeling this way. Be gentle on yourself Suzanne. Do what you can with the move and if there's no need to rush, then continue to slow down.

    Sending love xx

  4. When the stress of grief overwhelms me, I have to cry--and I mean, CRY. I also hug my husband, I commiserate with other bereaved parents, I distract myself, I immerse myself in photography, I have sex, I lie like a lump, I watch something funny, I pet the cats, I eat pho, I drink a couple of gin and tonics and then my body rebels and I go through dry periods where I don't drink at all, and then I drink wine, and I curse, and I cry, cry, cry. I do all of these things. Mostly I think about my daughter and how much I miss her and wish she was here.

    And I think about you, dear friend, and your beautiful Nathaniel. I feel love for you and all of my grieving friends. Love is always the thing that sustains me the most. Sending so much your way, and I hope wherever you make your home you find some peace and comfort. xoxo

  5. I don't know how to manage the stress of grief but I can tell you that I totally understand the inertia. Shortly after Eva died I did quite alot to honour and remember her. Now I feel stagnant, lost, and quite alone in my thoughts of Eva.

    And Christmas this year is easier and harder than last year. I wish some peace for you.
    Much love, Em

  6. Managing the stress - I find it comes on the worst when I am attempting to get on with life. It sort of comes in a pattern. I hit a nice stride, busying myself throughout the days, falling asleep through exhaustion quite quickly at night, having little time to stop and dwell... then when I haven't paid much attention to my grief for a while, it rears it's ugly head. I find I have to regularly stop, remember, acknowledge, allow the tears to flow, the anger to bite, and when I am exhausted and burnt out, I can then get up and begin the slow trudge forward again...

    Someone said to me to not make any major life changes whilst still grieving... but I'm afraid I can't see a day when I won't be, so unless I want to stagnate, I have to change and grow and forge ahead somehow...

    The farm sounds lovely. But I absolutely understand what you mean when you say it feels like someone else's life.