2016 was the year of loss for me.
After losing my daughter, I also faced the loss of my relationship with her father. All of that on its own was extremely tough to work through, but then I faced something incredibly confusing and daunting– dating. Except, this wasn’t only dating- it was dating in the digital age, the age of instant satisfaction where “casual is king” is the overwhelming notion. Add in the fact that I’m a woman who has lost her child and I was at an utter loss as to how to even attempt to navigate a land I didn’t even really feel I belonged in to begin with. To go from building a family to being alone was a tough transition at best. I knew I immediately was not in a place to commit myself to anyone else. I was grieving. Grieving the loss of Quinn, grieving the loss of my partner I shared my daughter with and ultimately, grieving the loss of the life I thought I was working towards.
Once I felt ready to date again though, I was confronted with two major things – men who weren’t ready or even knew how to deal with a woman who had suffered a loss like mine, and the question of “when”. When is the right time to open up about Quinn? When is the right time to tell my story? Luckily (and unluckily), we live in a world consumed by social media and as I’ve always been incredibly open about Quinn, the men who were too scared to even ask or found themselves intimidated, weeded themselves out easily enough once they stumbled upon a “bump” picture during my pregnancy or scanned through a post detailing my daughter. That ultimately proved to be beneficial and positive as it saved me time, I knew I accepted my story and I knew the right person would too. I learned some valuable lessons in dating after loss, the biggest being to never feel shameful for your scars, your struggle or your pain. In my healing process, I have accepted that Quinn is such a strong part of who I am and where I am today. She has given me strength I never thought I had and I refused to feel shameful or scared to be open about her existence. Her pictures and memory remain regardless of the questions they provoke or the people who chose to walk away because it was more than they wanted to sign up for.
I learned too that there are kind hearted and accepting people out there who will value you, your past and your child. They will listen to you when you talk, they will hold you when you cry and they will be there in any possible way they can – even if they don’t always know how, they will be there. I learned that while I am strong, I needed someone strong too. I needed someone who was strong enough to understand.
I learned that there is light after the dark, there is love after pain and there is beauty in the struggle. The right person will make you feel sure of this.