photo by  M.  | art by Banksy

photo by M. | art by Banksy

Jo-Anne, our forum moderator, is writing for us today. Her daughter Zia was stillborn on July 16, 2013. She says, "The years have passed and they will continue to do so. The sadness and initial rawness of grief has slowly subsided but there is still sadness there. It comes and it goes. Sometimes its a gentle breeze at other times a tornado ripping my insides. Explaining that isn't difficult, making people understand is. Opinions do not matter so much but how do we change the way society supports newly grieving parents if we cease the fight for significance of life. There truly is no footprint too small."

It’s been two and a half years since my daughter died and it feels like the expectations on me to move on and let go are growing at an overwhelming rate.

They expect you to have your shit together, all neat and tidy (excuse the analogy). They expect you to have gathered up the shattered pieces of your life, pulled it all together and moved on. They expect the dirt and grime you carry inside you to be cleaned and that it’s all sparkly inside, like stained red wine glasses going through a dishwashing cycle. They expect you to have swept up the ashes from your brokenness and dusted off the broom. They expect you to stop speaking about someone they never knew, someone they think you didn’t know either. They expect you to try again. They expect you to wipe away even your unseen tears. They expect you to stop the clock; they don’t want to know how old she would have been. They expect you to give up those dreams you had, to let them go. They expect you to be okay, smile and mean it. They expect you to be grateful for your own life, for the life of those who remain. They expect you to forget.

These are expectations, expectations I am faced with every day, expectations that grow and change and evolve every second of the day.

To this I say “Expectations are not constant.”

The void, that is constant. The longing is constant, missed milestones are constant, missed birthdays are constant, the empty space at our dinner table is constant, the fact that I will never see my daughter grow, that’s constant, the fact that I want to see her grow, that’s constant, the missing and wishing, that’s constant, the sadness, that’s constant, the heartbreak of knowing I can never buy her a gift or take her to lunch, oh that is constant, the memory of holding her lifeless body in my arms, that’s constant, the fact that I only have a box of ashes to hold instead of her, that’s constant, the fact that I have to listen to your opinionated vocal onslaughts of how you think I should be feeling, that’s constant, the fact that my constants outweigh your expectations every time, that is constant.

What do you feel like others are expecting you to do? Where in your grief do you feel "expected" to be?