The Balancing Act

By Becca Kohn, Sammi’s Mom

At the beginning it was all sad. Every single piece of it, my entire life, was all sad. Everything made me sad. I had anxiety doing anything for fear that it would make me more sad and I would just break down crying in public. Smiling was work, and quite honestly, I did it just as a show for the friends and family who looked at me with sad desperate eyes.

Everything was a trigger. I would just break down constantly. So much that I really only did things in one hour increments, because that’s all I had the energy for and then I just wanted to crawl back in bed under the covers and hide.

Thanksgiving was the first holiday without her. I wasn’t thankful for anything. I was angry. I was so angry. Angry that everyone could think of something to be thankful for. I could think of nothing.

My therapist, who has also lost a child, explained to me: It will not always be like this. You will find moments of joy. And those moments will become minutes, and those minutes will become hours, and those to days. And that joy will not replace your sadness. You will always have sadness for your loss. But you will be able to have both. You will have joy AND sadness at the same time. The feelings are not mutually exclusive. You can experience them together, in fact, you will do it quite often.

I nodded silently with no confidence that what she described would be MY truth, MY reality. At the time I could not imagine my life being anything but sad.

But reflecting on this 3 years later, my therapist was correct. It didn’t happen right away. It has taken a lot of practice and a lot of patience and lots of reflection. But I understand now what I could not understand in the raw early moments of grief. That you can feel both emotions at once. And you will. You can actually be happy and sad in the same moment. Every moment of joy will still have a tweak of pain. Because the pain of losing your child never goes away, ever.

It was so exhausting at first, balancing them both, but it slowly became my new normal. Because I am still here and my child is not. And unfortunately, I must continue to navigate the world while performing this delicate balancing act.

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