Hospital Tears

There are times when the dam wall breaks: all the little things add up to one unbearable ache in the centre of my chest, and the tears that have seemed a distant memory become a flood that washes away all points of stability.

It can be remarkably hard to articulate what hurts, and why. A visit from a Neurologist this morning left me feeling confused and unsettled, unsure what is happening next, and I felt a dull heaviness settle in my stomach. A few minutes later I was comforting the woman in the bed across from me, who is eight months pregnant and came in with chest pains. She was told she has a blood clot and needs to have more x-rays, and a scan to check on her baby. She is naturally concerned about the affect of the radiation on the baby, and if it is okay, and I suddenly felt the overwhelming protectiveness of a mother for her children – and the weight of last year’s loss and betrayal. My womb feels barren and aching, longing to feel the stirring of life within it again. This is never to be, and my husband’s looming vasectomy will ensure the decision will be final. This is the right action, and the logical decision, and my head tells me that another baby would break my body, and then break my heart by being another boy. Because it isn’t a baby I want, but a baby girl.

Then the 81-year old woman in the bed next to me, Catherine, who gently and gradually coaxed me away from my books into deeper and deeper conversation, was told she can go home today. We have only had five days together on the ward, as she arrived a day after me, and of course I was glad for her sake that she could get away from the bright lights, constant noise, bland food and lack of privacy and information, but I also suddenly felt myself washed by illogical and unexpected waves of abandonment, and heard her say to her daughter, ‘She lost her mom. I was trying to be a mother to her.’

I want to stare these emotions in the face, and tell them that I am going to accept them and let them go. I also don’t feel strong enough to do that work right now, but feel as if turning away to just get through leaves them growing into shadow-shapes, morphing and gaining strength while out of my sight. To name them, and own them, seems to diminish their power, but also seems to sap more energy than I can afford to lose right now.

I am immensely grateful for what I have in my life – more things than I can name. I am grateful for life itself, with all its joys and beauties; for my gorgeous boys, my wonderful husband who I have learnt to love with increasing richness and certainty as I have grown into more confidence with what I want from life, and the few friends and family I know I can rely on absolutely and without question. This gratitude gives me the confidence to know happiness has not deserted me; it has merely had to move over for a while to give sorrow its space.

11 thoughts on “Hospital Tears

  1. Hang in Laurel – and I hope your treatment/operation went well today. Grieving is long and hard but love and life and family will hold you. I feel deeply honoured to think that i am one of the people you can absolutely rely on.

  2. Hi Laurel,

    Your last line is so eloquently poignant and courageous, as is the case with all of your reflections. So sorry that your health issue is still not resolved. You really highlighted here how grief and gratefulness seem to walk together…how there is always someone worse off and yet we still have to travel our emotions. As you say, you can’t really force doing ‘the work’ on acceptance and moving on. It may not be clear now, but I think your honesty in dealing with your grief is going to help you heal. I really recommend a book by Thomas Moore titled Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way through Life’s Ordeals (

    It is certainly a blessing that your relationships have deepened, not easily I’m sure, but what you wrote about your boys and husband brought tears to my eyes. That is a special gift even when so much has been taken from you.

    My sincere wishes for healing to your body and spirit.

    1. Laurel
      An emotional reflection of how life presents itself… Your relationship with your family is beautiful and no matter what you may be going through there is a certain grace in the way you live it and write it….
      Love and Light

    2. My heart swells with gratitude at your gentle, warm and encouraging words. I will never be able to express quite how much they mean to me, but let it suffice for now to say that their impact is vast. Thank you also for the recommendation of what sounds like a most pertinent book! P.s. my iPad is insisting on posting this in the wrong place, no matter how many times I re-try it. Apologies.

  3. This is such a beautiful post. You’re going through so much, and your words remain exquisite.

    I have my fingers crossed that the treatment works. Hugs from afar, Ruth.

  4. wow so beautiful are your words are you, as is life, to be able to articulate like music is a gift as is life a gift the pain and the joy. I was just thinking of this and whether i could be dare to cherish all of life. dare to live. And I thought wonder if you’ve written on your blog. Wow Laurel. Love. Very moved.

    1. Writing helps me think and feel and know, but to then share and be able to move others too feels like a whole new experience still, and one for which I am deeply grateful. Your words hold the rhythm of your heart, and I am privileged to hear it.

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