This week it was time to choose a gravestone. We had postponed to do this for quite some time. And now that we started to search for one, this appears to be a process too. At this moment, there is a temporary wooden sign on the grave, lovingly and beautifully made by our eldest daughter. But wind and rain are affecting it, making it less readable. Something permanent needs to replace it. Something final. What a horrible word that is.
The last couple of days, before we went to the stonemason, I was restless. Busy, busy, busy, alternated with Netflix. As long as I did not have to dwell by what I was feeling. But in the meantime I was restless, petulant, not really myself. That does not add well to the atmosphere at home, but only that morning, the morning that we were about to go, I could finally sat myself down and quietly write and by that find out what is really going on.
It is the last thing we can do.
It is the only thing that needs to be done for her. And maybe that is the reason why this weighs so heavy on me. I don’t want to do this.
I don’t want to do this.
I don’t want to do this. While I allow the feelings to come up. The feelings this awareness brings to the surface, again that feeling of huge resistance comes up. Resistance against that what is so obvious but what I apparently still cannot and do not want to accept. She is not here anymore and she will never come back. We buried her body knowing that we will see her again when Jesus returns or when we ourselves have died. But here we will not see each other anymore and realizing this again hurts so much that I can’t barely breathe. This is breath taking in a very negative way and what can I do about it? I want to scream, kick, curse, punch, but I know of course that it will help in no way. It won’t solve, change or take away the pain.
We need to do this and again I speak firmly to myself, trying to get my emotions and brains together by writing, giving words, reasoning. It doesn’t really ease the pain. But by telling about it, it gets more clear and that what is unreachable comes more within reach so I can deal with it better.
Words are really essential in this process of accepting. When I give words to what I feel, unravel by describing it, I find out what’s really going on inside. And when I read it again, I can cry over it, I can begin to accept that this is a part of the big balloon of grief that needs to be taken in. I can process, I can weave it into my life. Allowing others to read it, means I acknowledging that this is there and of course I also hope that others can benefit from it in their own journey through grief or supporting others in their journey.
I didn’t expect this choosing of a gravestone would be so challenging. That it would be this painful. But now that I think about it, it makes so much sense. Putting a stone on the grave is like putting a lid on something or like closing the book. It reminds me of putting a dot after a sentence or press send when you signed your email. It symbolizes closing, finishing off. You put a stone (something that can endure the weather and the wind) on a grave and you try to put words on it that describe who the person was to you to mark where she has been laid down to rest. And then you walk away. You’re shutting it down, make it final. The grave. The chapter. But not your heart. That would be too final.
First published in Dutch on February 1, 2018, 11 months after the stillbirth of Amanda.