Riding the Waves of Grief

Reflections on my latest infertility survivor undertow

It is one thing to search for answers and fix and define. It is entirely another to be present for that which you can’t. Or shouldn’t.

I know that the band of supportive people who grace me with their presence will always be peppered by those who possess a tendency to perceive my grief as my own misperception. As something that is unique to me and caused by me. As a weak, misguided choice resulting from personal flaws that could be mechanically altered with a childish flip of a switch if I “just” chose to “see things another way”. But I know better. I know I went and continue to go through something that would bring the mightiest in this world to their knees. I know our primal gut is not a mistake. And that it is crucial to create space for its sacred mysterious intelligence even if empty souls chose to scream otherwise.

When hunkered down in the bowels of a struggle it is all too easy to feel like a failure. The position of face down in the trenches sucking mud is a very brave place to be for those who are even willing to go, but a hard one from which to see. So it is in the long awaited space of taking a step back I am finally able to understand that the waves of grief and struggle to which I’ve surrendered are the moments in my life I am most proud of. The times when I’ve had to scrape the barrels of my ego and rise up with at least a fist full of humility. Where I’ve had to own collateral damage that was born from nothing but an ambiguity I did not cause or create. They are phases and situations from which I could have easily fled, experiences I could have legitimately denied myself in the name of temporary survival.

But, I didn’t. I walked through. I crawled when I had to. I let myself unravel. Yet I stuck to my guns. I let myself be blinded. I tried to see anyway. Most of all, I encouraged myself to stay with it, knowing, if nothing else, I am worthy of my own story.

When I get to take a step back I am also grateful. I am grateful for my persistence and curiosity, even though they drive me up a wall most of the time.

I am grateful I do not consider myself to be anywhere near above the primal states of rage, frustration, indignance, sorrow, angst and hurt. All those feelings make a person, in the end, is a mere participant in the human experience.

I am grateful I have created enough space in my existence where I can drape my arm around their shoulders and say, “Come on in. I know that you matter. And that you need to be here for a little while too.” And that in doing so I am not becoming less of who I am, but rather I am boldly caressing the face of my own humanity.

I am grateful that, while I certainly don’t jump for joy over their arrival, I’m no longer afraid of their presence either. After all, if you treat them with respect, most house guests will not over stay their welcome.

I am grateful for the ability to observe when I’m in a draining, alienated, and slightly unempowered place. And even more grateful for the ability to recognize that these places are, at the same time, very true and valid. And thus I am grateful for the minimal judgment I have finally succeeded in awarding myself.

Let me be clear: I am not grateful for infertility, and I don’t think I ever will be. I did not need infertility to forge me into my “greatest self”, or into the person I was “meant to be”. Truth is, most of us were already not slouches before being infested by the infertility deluge. Whatever I have gained and will gain could never be worth the loss of my children. I didn’t ask for this package of feces, therefore I chose not to spend myself on the conundrum of how to adorn it with an aesthetically appeasing bow.

There is a dazed concussion like space that can occur when a grief wave dumps you back on shore. While in this space I happened to revisit one of my favorite songs that helped me to collect myself and reign in my perspective. The line from the song that struck me the most: “something always fires the light that gets in your eyes”. A welcome reminder that riding a wave of grief and struggle is not symptomatic of an absence of spirit, but rather that it demands a greater presence of it. I am, most of all, grateful for the presence of my own spirit.

Grief and PTSD are funny things. They are the embodiment of unpredictability. I’m not going to be so naive as to presume another wave is not on its way in, starting even, oh say, tomorrow. I’m not going to be so dishonest as to claim complete reconciliation with the process, or to say something so unicornish as, in light of my latest insights, I’ll smile and skip towards the next surge. I’m certain I won’t. No, I’m just a person, and specifically ME on top of that. And personal revelations aside, grieving is unequivocally NOT FUN. So chances are quite good that, once I find myself pulled under by another wave I’ll at some point commence my usual impatient grumbling…..”Seriously?? This stupid freakin shit again??” It seems I was not designed to go quietly, but what matters is that I go at all. And that I don’t forget my spirit will undoubtedly be tagging along with me.


I can always use the help of this song that I feel honors ALL of the places in the journey so so well.

MARATHON/RUSH//It’s not how fast you can go/The force goes in to the flow/If you pick up the beat/You can forget about the heat/More than just survival/More than just a flash/More than just a dotted line/More than just a dash//It’s a test of ultimate will/The heartbreak climb uphill/Got to pick up the pace/If you want to stay in the race/More than blind ambition/More than simple greed/More than a finish line must feed this burning need/In the long run….//From first to last/the peak is never passed/Something always fires the light that gets in your eyes/One moment’s high/And glory rolls on by/Like a streak of lightening/That flashes and fades in the summer sky//Your meters may overload/You can rest at the side of the road/You can miss a stride/But nobody gets a free ride/More than high performance/More than just a spark/More than just a bottom line or a lucky shot in the dark/In the long run…….//From first to last/the peak is never passed/Something always fires the light that gets in your eyes/One moment’s high/And glory rolls on by/Like a streak of lightening/That flashes and fades in the summer sky//You can do a lot in a lifetime/If you don’t burn out too fast/You can make the most of the distance/First you need endurance/First you’ve got to last

2 thoughts on “Riding the Waves of Grief

  • I really appreciate your perspective. I have been able to figure out to consider my journey a gift, but that doesn’t mean that lessens any of the crushing lifelong losses. Thank you for this piece. Justine

    • Hi Justine – Thanks for reading and for pointing out that there is more than one valid path to reconciliation – thank goodness, right?

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