After the death of your child, you keep living. After a while, after the main "grieving period," you find yourself able to laugh and smile, make conversation etc, on a fairly normal basis most of the time. New nuggets of happiness comes into being; new babies are born; new places are visited. A new kind of life starts and in some ways, it's a more aware life.
You're more aware of the value of what you have in your life, and can experience things in a very mindful way. Colors are brighter, lines are sharper, noises are clearer. The relationships between people are more interesting. In some ways, it's like being born again. You re-learn everything from scratch. It's like being a brand new baby faun in a forest in springtime.
But then you have the awareness of something else - and some days, it's more acute than others. You have this overwhelming sense of living, after death.
In some ways, you see, you're actually a ghost. I know I am. Life is strange now, really. I am a ghost, living in my own life, watching life after the death of my old self. I almost died when Josie died, and often, I am conscious of the fact that I'm still straddling the fence between this world and the next. I really do have one foot in the grave; a leg in the afterlife. I know I'm not the only one who feels that way. And how can I not? I am a big believer in talk therapy - in fact, I am going back to university in January to complete my degree in Psychology - but I don't know if any amount of psychotherapy will ever help clear the residual effects of experiencing death occur within my body.
Someone else died inside me.
I can't see any way back from that. I think that on a fundamental, primal level, that has changed the hardware inside my soul.
I think I mentioned in a previous post that losing a child - particularly when you're already considered an unusual or hard-to-figure-out person - makes you quite inaccessible to many people forever after. Your friendship circle inevitably changes because of that, and it's an important thing actually. Your friendship circle has to change, into one you will forever be more compatible with. It's such a major life change that retaining the status quo just isn't an option.
So yes, I do feel like I am living after death, sometimes. On really bad days, I feel somewhat like it's all been a mistake, like I should actually have died on October 10th, 2008, and that somewhere along the line, something went wrong and I survived. That now, nobody is sure what to do with me and I am therefore stuck in a perpetual waiting area, while they decide what the next steps will be, and where I might now fit into the human race. It's a strange feeling.
Thing is, I'm not the only one. There are other people in that proverbial waiting area - other parents who've lost children. So with each other, we form a new corner of the world population. We are strong, resilient, empathetic, kind, understanding, open minded, mindful, loving people because we've been broken open and don't have a choice in the matter. We can move mountains. We have gained the power to survive and accomplish incredibly beautiful things. What you see is what you get; we have to live mostly on the surface, since we don't have much of an outer shell left. But if you get to know us and accept us for the very unusual people we now are, we'll bring you all the wonders of the universe, heaped on a plate, over and over again.