The first year.
It’s been 32 months since Ana died. At first, it was impossible to believe that she was gone. I used to obsess over her last breath and the cold, sombre funeral home where I saw her body for the last time, just to prove to myself that it was real.
In those first early months of grief, I learned how to carry the pain. I spent the twelve months following Ana’s death trying to make sense of my life and attempting to connect with her spirit rather than dwell on the last, terrible months of her life.
Watch: Sophie Smith on coping and parenting after loss. Post continues below.
Celebrating holidays, birthdays, and events were out of the question. Celebrating anything at all was impossible. Navigating the world as a family of three, instead of a family of four, also presented a tremendous learning curve.
Losing a child is not unlike bringing a new baby into the world. There is a period of disbelief. There is a reevaluation of your worldview and your priorities.
The key difference (besides the obvious) is that most people can relate to the joy new parents experience. They understand that it takes time for young families to adjust to their lives together. Society supports and celebrates this in a variety of ways — baby showers, parental leave, playgroups, ongoing family and community support.
“It takes a village to raise a child,” as the saying goes. When I had Ana, my first child, I became part of the village. But when I lost Ana, there was only silence. What happens when a family shrinks? I learned the answer to this during the first year.
After her memorial and the much-needed support we received in the first few weeks, we were on our own. The world moved forward without me, at least for a while.
The first year was terribly hard. It’s the year I learned how to put one foot in front of the other, the year I discovered that walking in the woods, something I’d only done occasionally before Ana died, brought me closer to her.