I was sitting with a friend the other day and she asked me, "Heather, what exactly is a life coach? What do you do?" And I figured maybe she wasn't the only one who was uncertain...
Sitting with requires that we allow ourselves to feel the feelings of loss and grief, fear, rejection, being silenced or abandoned. It's difficult, but difficult isn't the same as impossible.
I was sixteen when I first got my driver's license, and as a driver, one of the earliest things I learned how to do is to park. That's because knowing where and how to park your car is essential to coming back to your car where you left it, in one piece, and in a drivable condition - ready to go on to your next destination. I was taught rules about which way to angle my tires when I parked on a hill - one way for when I had a curb to butt up against and a different way for when there was a soft shoulder. I was taught rules about how much space I should leave between myself and other vehicles. I was taught how to tell if a place was a fire route or otherwise designated as a no parking space. And someone even attempted to teach me how to parallel park, although that lesson clearly didn't stick very well! But the more life I live, the more I realize that we should probably also be teaching our teens about how and when and for how long it is safe to 'park' ourselves in life.
I was thinking about how hard it is to notice these losses and grieve them as we go. We often seem to jump to dismissing our grief in the hopes that by dismissing it the pain won't be as bad. We decide that they're 'silly' or they 'don't count' and sometimes actively minimize them to try to gain a sense of 'control' over the randomness of the experience. Sometimes the changes happen so slowly or silently that we miss that the loss has even happened - so we miss the chance or the need to grieve. But the problem is that when we don't deal well with grief it doesn't just disappear.
Today is Infant Loss and Awareness Day - and the 15th one I've observed as a mother who lost her child. The little boy at the top of this screen is my son. He was born the day before my 23rd birthday - the second of my three children - fifteen years ago this past August. He was beautiful and a fighter and had these intense 'old eyes' that felt like they could see into the depths of your soul. But he also had Trisomy 18 - a chromosomal abnormality similar to Down's Syndrome that causes each and every cell to end up with too much genetic information. In Jeremiah's case - and in the case of the 1:3000 live births with Trisomy 18 - this meant that Jeremiah's chances of reaching his first birthday alive were less than 10%. So I slurped up every ounce of my baby, knowing that his time was limited, but with no knowledge of exactly how long we had. Until one day I knew.