Life After Loss

Feelings on a Spectrum

Since Brady passed away, I’ve thought a lot more about my feelings and the feelings of others.  I’ve realized that I feel emotions with an intensity that I haven’t experienced before, both happiness and sadness.  My ability to feel is amplified.  When I think of my ability to experience feelings pre-Brady, I think of a spectrum from 1 to 10.  Before, I could only experience happiness to a 7 and sadness to a 3.  Now, I experience a full spectrum.

As I was writing this blog post, I read a post from What’s Your Grief that contained 64 grief quotes, and came across this gem:

Seeing this quote lent validity to my experience.  The experience of deep grief allows you to recognize and feel joy and love to a greater degree.

Losing Brady is a 1 on the spectrum.  Losing a child is the maximum sadness that one can experience.  There’s nothing more sad and painful than that.

There’s also acute happiness.  I experience joy with a greater intensity than I ever have before.  Little things have become much more important and much more impactful.  On our recent beach vacation, I found myself appreciating the little things much more, making me more happy and relaxed.  I noted the feelings of the hot sun and the soft sand between my toes.  I felt the splash of the warm, salty water with a sharp awareness, noting and remembering each of these feelings carefully.

Saying goodbye to Hilton Head Island felt more sad than I typically would feel leaving a place.  Saying goodbye to anything has been harder since we had to say goodbye to Brady.  It’s not anywhere close, of course, but it’s still a sharpened awareness of my feelings from what I am used to feeling in any situation.

The love I feel from Brady and Jeff is at a 10.  When Brady was born, looking at him made me feel like my heart could explode.  I had never felt love in that way before.  Seeing Brady for the first time expanded my ability to love – not only Brady, but others too.  The love I have for Jeff deepened as well.  I thought I loved him at a 10 before, but my “10” eight months ago, and my “10” now are very different.

I’ve had a few “silver lining” moments in my journey so far.  I feel weird calling anything a silver lining, but my therapist assured me that it’s okay for me to recognize mildly good things that have come from the deepest sadness, other people just aren’t allowed to do this for me.  The ability to feel so much more is both a blessing and a curse.  Feeling deep pain will never be easy, but erasing the pain would also erase the deep love and happiness that I am able to feel, and I wouldn’t want to trade that away.

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