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Self-Care Through Loss

by Johanna Mutz

Johanna and her husband Ozzie live in Florida, where they are raising two energetic little boys. Johanna previously worked as a museum educator and fundraiser, and is now the co-owner and co-founder of laurelbox. Johanna enjoys gardening, failing at DIY projects, and yoga.

 

I was 25 years old and 10 weeks pregnant when I miscarried. We were young marrieds living in a big city. I had a job I loved, living in a town I loved, with a man I loved.

It is now five years later and I don’t think about that loss very often. But sometimes, I can feel the absence, even all these years later.

When I miscarried, I didn’t tell very many people. On Friday, I spent 12 hours in a hospital bed, sobbing into my sheets. On Saturday, I put on a pencil skirt and a brave face and attended an event. On Sunday, I walked into church only to walk back out again at the sight of a baby dedication. On Monday, I sat in my office, staring numbly at a computer screen. Three days later on Thanksgiving, I cried sitting at a full table and staring at mashed potatoes and turkey.

My body didn’t heal for months. Probably because I gave it very little care.

My heart didn’t heal for much longer. Probably because I gave it even less care.

I think back on those years and I ache for the way I treated my younger grieving self. How I treated my broken body like an inconvenience. How I struggled to distract myself with work and plans. How I avoided rest and solitude, fearful of the pain that might visit in the quiet. How my heart stayed so skittish that almost two years later, pregnant with my next child, I avoided setting up the crib until I was almost full term.

I’m still not great at self-care. But I think I’m slowly learning. I’ll never forget my boss at the time. She brought me flowers, handed me her kindness and understanding, and told me to take time off to heal. At 25 years old, I didn’t realize the beautiful gift she was offering and that self-care would be key to my healing.

But now, further down the road, I understand. I recognize that my own soul is a haven of beauty, meant for the world in this moment. And stifling my healing process is no way to walk through this life.

So my message for you on Mother’s Day is “forget-YOU-not,” friends. While it may be less painful to stuff our hurt and suffocate in distractions, our own souls are worth careful tending.

Let me pass on to you what I was given, but did not take ... freedom to remember yourself.