Acceptance after Loss


I get asked a lot about “acceptance.” 

It seems impossible most of the time, doesn’t it?  The idea of being okay with something that is absolutely not okay?

Perhaps right now you are desperately trying to have more children by any means necessary…  Maybe you are parenting a rainbow baby and are trying to navigate life between the living and the lost…  You might be raising one surviving twin while grieving another, constantly being pulled between what you are grateful for and what you are missing…. Maybe your arms are painfully empty and you don’t know if that will ever change… Maybe you are so scared of being devastated again by grief that you are afraid to try again…  Maybe you are considering settling into the idea of being a couple without kids.

All of this is really hard stuff.

In every moment of this we are trying to decide how much to push ourselves into a different place and how much to give in to.

You have my full respect, mama, as you climb whichever mountain you are facing.

As a childless grieving mother, I’ve spent a lot of time untangling this web of “acceptance,” both in my own life and with the women and couples I work with in my psychotherapy practice.

Here’s what I‘ve learned about “acceptance:”

This is what gets in the way:

As a psychotherapist, neuroscience taught me how our brains are literally hardwired to hate uncertainty.  What I have seen in my work with my clients is that one of the ways we each protect ourselves from the vulnerability of not knowing what our future will look like is to create pictures in our heads of what we think our future happiness should look like.

These images, our future goals, wishes, the plans we’ve made, the projections of what we want, the little movie clips in our minds of all the fun our future self is having, all serve a really noteworthy function:  

They tell us what happiness might look like so we can recognize it when we get there.  So we can make sure we “make it happen.”​ So we can know it’s safe to rest when we finally get there.

“Ah yes, this is what I wanted…I’m safe now…” 

When those plans & pictures get torn up, our brains go into panic and frantic desperation.

(My man snapped this photo of my “happy tears” while hiking in Cinque Terre. I offer this as proof that it is possible for you to have “happy tears” again too.)

Here’s the one true antidote I’ve discovered:

Know this:

There are only two true emotions.

Love & Fear.

In any given moment, we are operating from one of these two positions: Love or Fear.

Fear wants certainty.

Fear wants you to quickly make a new plan or glue the broken pieces of your old plan back together. Fear tries frantically to push you to lock something in, which leads to a crazy-making tug of war between extremes. One moment you can’t imagine being happy ever again, the next moment you’re trying to force yourself to be okay with something that doesn’t feel right. Fear wants to shut off the broken-heartedness and skip over the grief. Fear wants you to choose. Right now. Tell me what the new plan is. Tell me tell me tell me. Fear can’t bear the idea of sitting in the pain and not knowing, so it sends your whole system into a tail spin of desperate decision making, panic, utter despair and hopelessness.

Love wants time.

Love wants you to move slowly. It wants you to let yourself feel everything you need to as it comes up. It wants you give yourself room to notice what feels a little better, what feels lighter, what feels more calming and expansive. Love reminds you there is a bigger picture here and it’s all around you. It’s never been lost. It could be lost. The goal has always been the same- be happy, feel good, contribute, spread love. Love does not insist on that taking a certain form or matching a specific photo image in our heads. It does not demand fitting into a certain box. It’s curious. It’s kind. It’s flowing and unrestricted. It’s fully free.

Release your need for instant control and certainty.

Start to let yourself gently follow the breadcrumbs that happiness leaves for you. There will be a day when you suddenly notice that you are okay. And maybe in that moment you will look around and see that you are surrounded by children of your own. Maybe you will be holding a child who looks nothing like you and who came to you through the love of a stranger. Maybe you and your partner will be cuddled up on a Saturday morning, laughing nose to nose and playing with your puppy. Maybe you’ll notice that you feel good and you’ll have the urge to go write about it like I did this morning.

But first you got to start to ask yourself this question:

Am I chasing love or fear?

Which emotion has been guiding you lately, mama?

Is it love or fear that has been directing your thoughts and propelling your actions?

Which emotion will you let guide your future?

Today I’m choosing Love.

P.S. If you want your own 1:1 Calm & Comfort Session with me click here


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