She jumped on the trampoline, totally naked. Her mother had just scrubbed her clean after playing in the sand, but now she was dancing there. Free and lively, just having fun. Fortunately, her mother saw the fun in it, gave it a twist and took the toddler over her arm to the tent. It’s time to sleep.
Two years ago, camping was quite a torture for me. Every time a child cried, I panicked. I hadn’t paid much attention to it before, because I could always calm myself down again and was therefore not ‘limited in how I functioned’, which, according to the GP, was an indication of ‘complicated grief’. My grief was normal according to him and the lifecoach he referred me to just in case. I was grieving ‘very well’ because I was able to function normally. But it wasn’t until that holiday two years ago that I noticed how tired I was from panicking over and over and then having to calm down myself again.
So after that summer vacation I went back to the GP and got a referral for a psychologist. She diagnosed PTSD and suggested EMDR. That opened up a hidden box of memories that went back much further than my deceased daughter. I encountered loneliness in the hospital, fear of death, the desire to always do everything right and to not be a burden to anyone. My daughter’s death had put all that on sharp. It was the last straw that left me unable to control the panic. EMDR helped. I calmed down and a summer later I could smile at that toddler who was taken off the trampoline screaming of protest, although it did awake the deep longing for the toddler who is not there because she died before becoming a toddler. But that’s normal grief. Normal grief that you have to weave into your life.
A few weeks ago I was camping again. I didn’t panic about crying little ones and didn’t have that sharp pain anymore. But sometimes it flared up again and at those moments I felt very strongly that she belongs in our family, that mourning is just part of it, that I am no longer who I used to be and that I don’t have to. After such a moment of feeling intense loss, I wrote at the campsite a few weeks ago:
How would it have been with you here with me
In the tent at the campsite
Running around barefoot
Hair quickly put in ponytails
To the calves, to give a bottle
Brushing horses shiny with Sister
Watch out, another tractor is coming,
Big Brother, stop her!
How fast they drive, it isn’t normal
Stay with me, close to me, Amanda
– Oh no, you’re not here
I posted this on Facebook and wrote underneath it: I don’t feel that way all the time, but now I do, so C… when such a wave suddenly hits you again. Grief still doesn’t take a holiday. Someone replied: “You don’t have to apologize for it… It almost seems that way reading your last sentence. I can imagine that it comes to you at times and certainly at such a place and such a moment. Just so you think… What if?”
She was right. I did indeed feel that I should apologize and it hit me again in that place and at that moment. Apparently I still think that at some point it has to be done with the missing, longing and mourning. But it appears that isn’t possible. I have progressed further in the process compared to a few summers ago. But it’s normal. It is normal that loss sometimes suddenly and violently rears its head and today I just want to say that to you who mourn or you who want to support someone who is grieving. That your heart still loves the one who is no longer there and that that feeling sometimes overwhelms you, that is not complicated. That is normal.