When grief is new, it is excruciating and overwhelming. Many people get stuck in a quicksand of pain that is so thick and intense, it feels impossible to escape. As you struggle through those first few days, weeks, and months, you begin to be pulled so far down into it, you can’t imagine how you’ll survive. I certainly felt that way. I’m grateful that those days are behind me.

And yet you do survive. Despite all odds, you wake up each morning. Your body still functions. You find a way to quietly camoflauge yourself within with the “normal” world around you. You learn to live one day at a time. One moment at a time when the day is particularly hard. Slowly – and painfully – you begin to acclimate to a world without your loved one in it. You do it because you have no other choice.

Over five years after the death of my 4-year-old daughter, Margareta, I’ve acclimated as best I can. I’ve continually faced and dealt with those painful feelings and emotions using every tool I can think of. I still go to grief support groups. I write about grief. I talk to a grief counselor when I feel the need to. I talk about Margareta with those who want to hear. I’ve come to terms with the impossible reality that she is gone and never coming back.

My grief over my daughter’s death will never go away. Ask any grieving parent and they’ll tell you the same. We’ll never “get over it”. What we have to do is accept it and learn how to live life despite of it. I’ve heard some bereaved parents don’t like using the word acceptance. That is because they associate the notion of accepting their child’s death with being okay with their child’s death. But you can accept the reality of something without ever being happy about it; without ever being okay with it. You can’t change the past, so you might as well accept it in order to begin to be able to heal from the devastation you find yourself in.

I have healed a lot in the past five years. The open, oozing, excruciating wound of my broken heart has since scabbed over. I’ll always have the painful scar that reminds me throughout every day that my daughter isn’t here. It’s that constant reminder that is the hardest for me now.

I’m grieving a future I’ll never have. I’m reminded every day of what could have been, but can never be. I’m grieving lost hopes and dreams. I’m grieving the loss of my only daughter and the mother-daughter relationship I only had a glimpse of. Instead of the intense, searing pain of early grief, it has transformed into a dull ache I’ll never escape from.

I don’t think I’ll ever feel fully at ease with this constant ache. I’ll always miss my daughter. I’ll always regret that I didn’t get to watch her grow. But I’m dedicated to learning how to live a happy, meaningful life despite of it. I do this in her honor. I do it in the honor of my other children, husband and family. I do it because I didn’t physically die when she did.

In her four short years, my daughter lived life to the fullest – full of love, honesty and without fear. It is now my goal in life to do the same. I know she would have wanted it that way.

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Maria Kubitz

Maria Kubitz lost her four year old daughter in a drowning accident in 2009. In her grief journey, Maria continually tries to find ways to learn from the pain, and maintain a loving, healthy environment for her four other children. She volunteers as newsletter editor at a local chapter of The Compassionate Friends, and in 2012, Maria created www.aliveinmemory.org – a blog about learning to live with grief.

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