Grief and life after Jessica: the fear of moving forward

Grief is a funny thing. There are times when I feel like I am drowning in the stormy sea of grief and times when the waves calm and I find myself just floating along. I have been told that with the passing of time, the frequency of the storms will reduce. That as I move forward in this grief journey, I will spend more time floating on the sea of grief and less time struggling to stay afloat.

 

Sometimes it comforts me to be told this. At other times, I find myself rebelling against it.

 

I am scared of moving forward. Scared that moving forward means leaving Jessica behind.

 

Sophie holding Jessica's hand and helping lead her on - "Grief and life after Jessica: the fear of moving forward"

 

There are times when I actively seek the pain of grieving for Jessica. Because even when it feels like I am drowning in the stormy waters of grief, the rawness of my pain makes me feel that strong connection with Jessica. It reminds me of the strength of my love for her and of how much I miss her. That I have not forgotten her; that I still remember what life with her was like and that I still long for it.

 

I cry every single day for that little girl of mine. Some days though I don’t cry very much and then I feel guilty. How can life just carry on without Jessica here? How can it be that I can still experience moments of joy – even though it is not unclouded joy – when I still ache so much for her? Yet I know that being able to enjoy a moment and feel happiness does not mean that I love Jessica any less or that I don’t miss her.

 

I am scared of being happy. I am scared that it means I am forgetting. Scared of having to move forward from life with Jessica, scared of having to accept that life with Jessica is now firmly in the past. I am scared of feeling like I will leave her behind and yet I know that I will forever carry her with me.

 

Jessica riding on my back in the toddler carrier

 

Moving forward does not mean I am forgetting her. Making new memories does not mean that I don’t cherish the old ones, or that I don’t wish I could relive them.

 

Allowing myself to be happy does not mean I love Jessica any less or that I don’t miss her as much.

 

I am sure that she would want us to be able to be happy and for Sophie and Thomas to be able to have fun. They deserve to have a happy childhood too. Making those memories with them does not mean that Jessica is no longer a part of our lives. I have no doubt that Sophie will tell Thomas about their big sister. I can already see how Jessica’s example has influenced Sophie in her new role as a big sister. She will always be a part of their lives. As we move forward into the future, we will carry Jessica with us.

 

Sophie cuddling Thomas with Jessica looking on from her photo cushion

 

But moving forward is hard and scary and I can’t help but cling to the past sometimes. All the while hating the fact that life with Jessica is in the past. Because although we carry her with us, she is not with us. I will always long for her physical presence, for just one more moment with my beautiful big girl.

 

I don’t want to have to make new memories without her. But I don’t have a choice.

 

No amount of longing for things to be different will bring Jessica back.

 

And so I keep moving forward. Taking small steps forward. Reminding myself that it is okay to feel happiness. It is okay to have fun and to laugh. That allowing myself to live does not mean I love Jessica any less.

 

I will always grieve for her; I will always miss her. Jessica is there in my past, in my present and in my future. She is there in my heart wherever I go and she always will be.

 

Me giving Jessica a cuddle

 

2 thoughts on “Grief and life after Jessica: the fear of moving forward

  1. I have been where you are although not grieving for a child. After 14 years I can assure you that despite my fears I still feel very connected with my dad. It is not an easy journey at all but it is okay to feel happy especially since it is your other children bringing you joy and for their sake you need to feel it and make happy memories. Sending big hugs xxxxx

    1. Thank you Laura. I try to give myself permission to feel happy even though grief often comes with guilt. Sophie and Thomas deserve to have a happy childhood as well and I am sure Jessica would want us to continue to make happy memories together. It helps a lot to write down my feelings and ride the storms of grief when they come rather than trying to resist them. So glad that you still feel very connected with your dad after 14 years. My dad died 9 years ago and the memories of him are happy ones and bring me a lot of comfort. I like to think that he is taking care of Jessica now – he would have adored her had he lived to see her x

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