What does it mean to move on? Does this mean I have to forget about my baby?
From Ann Douglas . . .
Moving on does not mean forgetting about your baby. It means rebuilding your life in a way that acknowledges and honors the fact
of your baby's life and death.
Some parents worry that they are somehow being disloyal to their baby if they find themselves experiencing joy in their lives again. This is not the case. What you are experiencing is simply the triumph of the human spirit over adversity -- a powerful force that allows us to go on at times when we swore we couldn't.
You will find ways of memorializing your baby and special ways of honoring your baby's memory through your day-to-day life. You need not worry that you will forget your baby. That could never happen. If you talk to 80 year old women who experienced the death of a baby a good half-century ago, they can still tell you very specific details about the circumstances that led to their baby's death.
Life goes on, but parents never forget.
To me, moving on means learning to live a productive life, a life that includes my loss. It is impossible to forget about your baby, but life will continue even though your baby died. Moving on means learning to live with a new normal which means learning to live without your baby. Life will be very different, but it can be good. Moving on for me means living with the fact that I have given birth to five children, but I have two who are living. Moving on means I am willing to share my experience with others. Moving on means there finally came a day when my first thought was not "Three of your children are dead." I am not the same person I was before my children lived and died, but I am a nice person, a kind person, a compassionate person, and a person who thinks of all three of my boys every day. My children give me energy to face each day without them. To me, that is moving on.
Moving on - whose term is that anyway? It can imply "putting the past behind" and in my opinion isn't even a phrase to have in one's vocabulary. Ok, "moving on with life" could work as long as it is clear that we are integrating our loved one into our lives and learning to live without their daily presence, while we keep them alive in our hearts forever. The pressure from others and ourselves is intense. The desire to move on may even be great. But the way to move through life after a painful loss is to grieve and remember. In time then, when much of the hard work is behind, the remembering and grieving can soften and lessen, but it never fully goes away. When we love someone so deeply, it is not wise or possible to really forget them and "move on" to other things while ignoring their effect on our lives. So follow your heart, seek your "new normal", but know that you may and will find times for tears, smiles, sadness and joy the rest of your life as you hold your precious one close to you always.
Still 'moving on and through' with my life,
PS Even after 20+ years of living since my three losses I have great days, fine days and sad days. I carry my three babies with me; they are held close in my heart, and I look at life differently because of them. Their gifts overwhelm me and I wonder how it would have been with them here. Mostly I have much to be thankful for and don't dwell on their loss anymore, but I make a commitment to NEVER forget them. I am the mother, how could I?
"Moving on" takes place in both subtle and obvious ways. To illustrate this I will share a little of what moving on has meant to me. I will never forget waking up with a smile on my face several months after our son's death. To me that smile was a glimmer of hope that I would be able to be happy again. I had a similar feeling when, months after Brycen's death, I realized I had not cried for a day or two. At some point I also noticed sorrow no longer consumed my life and that the thought of Brycen was beginning to bring gentle joy to my heart instead of searing pain and grief. Without even meaning to, I had begun to move forward and find hope, happiness and meaning in life after the death of my first born.
Other parts of moving on were deliberate for me and came in stages. Some of these steps were spur of the moment decisions that just felt right, others took days or weeks for me to decide on and prepare for emotionally. Deciding to have another baby was one step. Although at the time I was still in the deep throes of early grief, having another baby was a decision to move forward with my life. Seven or eight months after Brycen's death I decided to cut down the black ribbons I had tied around the mailbox and outside light posts the week after he died. I cried heavy tears of sorrow while I cut the ribbons, weathered and torn from the elements, but I knew it was time for them to come down. Another step came a few weeks after our daughter's birth when I tearfully packed away most of Brycen's things from the nursery and added our newborn daughter's clothes, toys and diapers in place of our son's.
The process of moving on is not clear-cut and is certainly not short or painless. Even now, over two and a half years after our son's death, there are moments I realize I am still in the process of moving on. One thing is certain though, moving on does not mean you have to forget about your baby. Remembering and honoring are both healthy and vital aspects of coming to terms with loss. Moving on does not mean we have to stop doing either of these. The very fact that we continue to live our lives despite knowing such sorrow is a start. But, to laugh, love and make plans for the future while at the same time remembering and honoring our babies is to me the pure essence of moving on.
I wish you peace, light and love on your journey as you discover what moving on will mean to you.
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