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2nd Degree Grieving

Updated on November 23, 2015

2 months ago, I lost my niece. It, by far, has been the most shattering thing I've personally ever had to experience to date. I feel like there is a special abundant love that comes with being an auntie. Especially not having kids myself, I tend to have the all consuming love for my nieces and nephews, as I often refer to them as "my babies". What I experienced that day and every day after, is what I am referring to as "2nd degree grieving". I am grieving. For the loss of that beautiful baby... but also for her mommy and daddy. The love and respect that I have for my brother and his wife are that of any younger sibling encompassed in a close-knit loving family. You experience their joys and also their pain. You look up to them more than they know. You want nothing but the best for them and seeing them hurt is like a ton of bricks weighing on your heart. I'm grieving for the loss of Afton, and I am also grieving for my family. They are my people. I want happiness for them. I want the pain to go away. I want whatever they want. But I can not do any of this. I can not make her come back, I can not fill the huge hole in their hearts. All I can do is try and mend my own and be understanding of theirs.

Recently I read an article. What it looks like to grieve, how it feels to be a "first degree" griever, and the truth is, there's no manual, there's no way they're suppose to act or feel or react. It literally goes day by day, hour by hour. A wave of overwhelming emotion may come by and smack them in the face- the kind that literally makes you not want to get out of bed. And that's okay. I recently told them I would meet them wherever they're at in their grieving process. To me, that means I will understand if you make plans and then last minute, break them. I will understand if you can't be with us over the holidays because its too sad to be there without her. As hard as it is for me to be missing her and also want to be with you, I will understand. I will understand if you get upset, mad, happy, sad in the flip of a switch. I will meet you there with open arms and an open heart. I will support you, I will stand up for you. I will be your person. I will not take it personal, I will know its about her and you and not about me. The loss of a child is something I have never and hopefully will never have to experience, so I have no idea what you are feeling as a first degree griever. You've never experienced it before either, so you don't know how your first holiday without her will be, you don't know how your second holiday without her will be. You are just taking it day by day, too. Like we all are.

Grieving is defined by its beholder and has no concrete definition. Whether you're a first, second, or third degree griever, we all pave our own way through the unthinkable so meet each other wherever you're at with open arms and an open heart.

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