Not long ago at Glow in the Woods, a contributor offered up this question: Does life after the death of your child or children feel like water rushing past you? Or rather, do you feel swept away with life? Do you feel untethered, or grounded?

I’ve thought a lot about this question. Not because it’s difficult to answer but because of the answer. Emphatically: water rushing past me. Like I’m standing in a river, and I’m breaking the flow. Like everything is just sailing along by.

I wouldn’t say grounded exactly. That’s something else, something I don’t really feel. There’s a disconnect between me and the rest of the world sometimes. The best way to explain it is to use the river comparison. I’m standing in the river, but the tide has no effect on me. It doesn’t push me down or carry me along with it, but I don’t disrupt the flow either. Everything keeps on going without me.

As individualized as grief can be, it never surprises me that the babylost often experience similar feelings. I’m sure anyone who has lost someone vital to their lives has felt as I do, watching people as they go on with their daily existence and thinking, how can they keep going? How can life continue for others when I feel it crumbling all around me? How can they not realize that nothing is as it should be?

Human beings personalize things. When our worlds crumble, we look at others and marvel at their ability to go happily through life. We forget that, once upon a time, we could do that too. We forgot that we once lived a life without loss touching us with its cold, lifeless fingers. Now, wrapped up in its grip as we are, we don’t remember how it feels to be carefree and innocent.

I’ve never felt the jealousy that others of the babylost have expressed. That’s okay. And it’s okay that they have those feelings. But when I look at a woman with her baby, I feel no stab of envy. I wish Lauren was with me, yes, but at the same time, I’m glad this woman has her child. I can’t begrudge her that. I can’t feel angry that her child lived while mine died. I can’t feel anything but happiness that her baby lived, because it could have died. Had but one thing gone wrong, she would know what grief was. And I don’t wish that upon anyone.

So, yes, I sit and watch the world go by me, and I often feel as though it’s all apart from me, that I am a mere spectre, unable to touch the living who are unable to touch me.

But to be honest, I’ve felt like that even before Lauren died. Not always, and not so deeply as I feel it now, but this feeling of standing still as life flows around me is a familiar one. Perhaps that’s why I’ve adapted to it so well. Perhaps that’s why I can understand why people look at and through me and don’t even pause, because my grief is not their grief. And I’m glad for that.

In that post at Glow, the contributor likens grief to a glass building, but for me, it’s a sand dune. Not exactly a building, but it’s how it seems to me. Think of life as a great, sandy beach, with the water of life ebbing and flowing over it, sometimes destructive, other times creative. Grief builds itself into a dune, and with time, it will grow bigger or smaller, depending. It may rise up and engulf you. Or perhaps it will blow away with the winds of time, the sand distributed across the beach, leaving you to embrace life again.

But even so, it’s still there. It will always be there. No matter how strewn, how unformed it becomes, the grief will always be there. What we learn to do is tamp it back into place and smooth it over and know that it’s still there but that we can deal with it when it rises back out of the sand and forms dunes again.