Why do we not want to move on?

I think, based on the title of this post, you’re going to think I’m going a different place than I’m going.

This is not a post about reluctance, but about intentional resistance.

In the words of an old cliche, if I had a dollar for every time someone said how sick they were of people saying that “maybe it was time to move on,” I’d be rich. Granted, not a single person has ever said this to me. It is five and a half months after Ander died, and never has this phrase been uttered, at least not in my presence. I believe there are two reasons for this: I have supportive and loving family and friends, and for all intents and purposes, I have moved on.

Before you gasp in outrage, let me explain what “moving on” means to me. I can assure you that I have not forgotten my son. I will never forget him. I think about Ander every hour of my day, if not more (to say every minute would be an exaggeration, though it seems like that sometimes). For example, yesterday I thought about him when: we were thinking of what time to leave for Massachusetts; when we pulled up the map to St. Anne’s; when we arrived at the shrine; when we saw the brick my cousin had ordered for the Children’s Garden (for children who have died); when we were on our way to Brimfield and saw a robin, when we arrived at my grandfather’s 85th birthday, and all my family was there, and I remembered that this should be Ander’s first time meeting them all, and what a perfect place it would have been; when I saw the wading area for toddlers; when I saw a pregnant woman in the parking lot…. (I could go on but I’m thinking you get the idea).

Moving on doesn’t mean forgetting. It means choosing hope and happiness over depression and grief (and yes, I recognize that I have a choice here, while others, in the throes of a deeper depression, do not). It means being able to say the following (these are ideals. I’m working on them. But this is what I’m moving towards as I work on moving on):

– I can accept help and kind words with a “thank you” rather than a guilty justification or annoyance that they “don’t know how” to “really” help me.

– I am jealous, but it doesn’t take over my life. I feel it, acknowledge it, stew in it for a moment, and then extricate myself from the situation and move on.

– I am actively planning on having another child, but the process is not taking over my life. I chart my cycle daily, but that takes less than one minute of my day. The rest of the time, while I may have daydreams, I also do a lot of fun things like go to water parks and drink wine with friends.

– I am not self-righteous in my grief. When a friend announces her pregnancy, I can smile and say “I’m happy for you” with a smile. I may always also feel jealousy, but I don’t make her feel guilty for sharing her news. She deserves to be happy about her baby, and I can recognize that life is unfair, and I deserved to be happy about my baby too, without making others unhappy.

– I am not defined by my loss, my grief, and my sadness. Though I cannot forget, I do not need to remind people, every day, that I am a babyloss mother. Although I may be consumed by my loss at time, I am more than that. While I love when people remember Ander, I know he will never be forgotten.

Moving on means choosing hope and happiness. It means surviving and thriving. It means coming to terms with the fact that your baby loss will not and should not be the first and more salient thing about you and how people interact with you. And that’s okay, because you will NOT forget your baby.

Maybe it’s time to move on?

(When other people say to you “maybe it’s time to move on,” they might not mean it like this. Have you been told this? What do you think the person meant? How do you understand what it means to “move on?”)

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4 Responses to Why do we not want to move on?

  1. typhaine says:

    Interesting thoughts…
    I haven’t been told that is was “time to move on” either, probably in part because people around me are caring and willing to accompany me and my partner in our grief.

    I feel like i am moving, but i am unsure about “moving on”. I was just writing about that. What other choice do we have that to just keep moving forward? Some days i feel like i am able to do so. Other days, i am barely able to get out of bed and i feel very much defined by the loss of my son. But i feel like these days are ok too. They are part of the path i am on, perhaps even, part of moving on.

    • babylossmama says:

      I really like how you characterize the journey as moving “forward,” opposed to moving “on.” I like that – moving forward. Like you note, it’s more about the day-to-day journey rather than some “destination” as perhaps implied by the phrase “moving on.” Thanks for helping me think of it that way!

      • meghanoc says:

        not too long after Mabel died, after a dinner out with my friends (who included one of my midwives and my doc), I was struggling with the feeling of what felt like inappropriateness at being out and having some enjoyment so soon after my baby died. My midwife wrote me this and I have kept tucked in mind for whenever I need reminding:

        “The fact that the night was ok doesn’t mean you’re ok. It’s a step, just survival, not moving on, not moving past, just moving… And ‘moving’ with those who knew Mabel means you never have to pretend you’d rather be with her. We know that. We wish that too.”

        We are simply moving.

  2. An incredible post. I am still steeped in grief, it is exhausting. I try so hard to think of what I have to feel lucky about, and celebrate. I definitely feel like I’m moving forward with that – I am becoming able to do more things. I try to not feel jealous of others’ babies, and have congratulated the many expectant friends I have on their new arrivals, as much as it hurts. This week, however, has been a tough week and it is hard to muster that energy. I really like your term of moving ‘forward’ rather than moving ‘on’. It is about celebrating life and living life, in honour of the life that our babies were denied, it’s not disrespecting their memories xxx

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