baby loss · death · Grief · life after loss

Painful Purpose

I’m starting 2022 out with my fingers on a keyboard, for the first time in a long time.
I’d like to say it feels good, but it really just feels heavy. It’s been said that to heal, you have to give purpose to your pain. I used to live by this. It was my personal rule. I knew that I felt better when I wrote or painted or helped others. Giving my pain a purpose, and honoring my firstborn son after he died, helped my bruised heart. It got me through the darkest days. But now, six years and so many losses later, I’m finding that it’s much more difficult to give my pain purpose.

I’ve had so many goals swirling around in my brain since the year after Lincoln died.
My dreams kept me going. They gave me momentum and purpose and drove me forward when I felt like my world had completely crumbled. These goals took a backseat while I focused on Jonah’s baby years. I know it’s time to make progress on them. But it’s hard to dream now. It’s hard to have hope. It’s hard to believe that anything good is meant for me. Because every time I’ve started to feel positive about the future, another thing was taken from me.
Two years ago, despite already losing a sister, a brother, and a son; I believed I was beginning the very best year of my life, and then Liam died early into the year. In this last year, I’ve focused so much on healing and growth. It’s been my life’s hardest work, and so many days I feel as though I’m going backwards. I was finally starting to look up and forward again, and then my baby sister died. My sister was my best friend, and my biggest support system. She was holding my hand, walking with me through this healing journey. I talked with her every, single day. And her unexpected death took yet another piece of me.

Shannon & Liam

I want to make my dreams realities.
I want to reach my goals.
But if I do, somehow it feels like they all died to get me somewhere in life:
Whether it’s my career path, or what I’ve gained in wisdom and emotional strength.
My therapist asked me, “Wouldn’t it be worse if their deaths were for nothing?” And I broke down as I told him it really doesn’t feel that way. It would hurt so much less if their deaths didn’t feel so instrumental in my life. It would hurt so much less if I could just believe that their deaths were coincidence. But it feels the opposite. It feels like their deaths happened TO me. And if my purpose comes from the pain of their lives ending, it makes me feel at fault somehow. If my purpose comes from their deaths, I don’t want it.

It’s so hard to know where to go from here.
My goals haven’t changed.
My dreams remain the same.
I’ve tried re-evaluating them. But on my best days, I can still see them coming to fruition. Trying to reach them doesn’t feel good right now. It feels tainted and dark and cursed. And if I start moving towards them, I can’t help but wonder what I’ll lose next.

I’ve been trying to stay focused, and I’ve been fighting the urge to slip even further into darkness; simply because I know that I have to. I know that I’ve spent too long in a fog and I have to get out. It’s meaningful to honor those you’ve lost. I know, in every part of me, that my sisters and my brother and my sons, would want me to carry on with a sense of purpose. I can only hope that I’ll reach that place again. There is value is putting a purpose to your pain. But when that purpose feels too dark, sometimes you just have to keep going anyway. It won’t always feel good. Sometimes it will feel like you’re drowning. Sometimes getting out of bed and breathing is the hardest work you’ve ever done. But you just keep doing it.

Whether I like it or not, the world keeps moving. So I’ll keep putting my fingers to this keyboard. I’ll keep putting my paintbrush to a canvas. I’ll keep putting my feet on the ground. I can only hope that one day, my purpose will feel clear and meaningful again. I can only hope that one day, finding my purpose will bring relief instead of pain.

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