The weeks following Jacks death were a blur of emotions. Anger, tears, exhaustion, disbelief, shock, searing pain, silence and a thousand other things i cannot describe. Mark and I miss our boy. He will forever be our firstborn, he will never be replaced. We have an area at home with his things, his pictures are on our walls, we talk about him. We will never shut him away in a box, he is our son and always will be. I find having a place to remember him so important. Even if it’s just a teddy or candle, it’s a place for you to remember your child.
If you are reading this as a friend or family member to someone who has lost a child, please allow them to talk about them, if they want to. Do not tell them things like “you can try again” or “at least you have other kids” (if they do). One of the most scary things to a parent who has lost a child is them being forgotten. Its 100% normal, natural and right for a parent to celebrate that beautiful life, whether miscarriage, stillborn, SIDs, premature death or a death later in the child’s life, its the same. You grieve, you love and you remember. That never goes away.
If you are a parent who has just lost your baby, firstly know your are stronger than you think. You feel broken, numb, angry, confused, lost, detached, depressed, afraid, but also a yearning. Your arms ache for your baby. You have to face the nursery. Maybe you have cards to go through, gifts for a baby that will never touch them. You have precious few memories, maybe you have none. You remember the scent of your baby, you remember their touch. You may never have met your baby but you knew it was there. Your baby did exist and it was alive, no matter how short a time. You will always be a parent to your baby, always.
Join some support groups on Facebook, there are so many. They provide a safe place for you to post how you feel. You can talk about your baby with people who really understand. You can post the photos of your baby that others wouldn’t understand or may even tell you, you shouldn’t post. Many I am part of will post a happy birthday post every year for you and your baby. They let you celebrate them like any other parent would. You can share your feelings and get great advice on coping. They also can help you with the questions you will inevitably have on trying again, what tests to ask for, how long to wait, how can i do this again? Will i ever have a baby? I have asked these questions many times. Its the questions that others may not understand or rather will give you a generic answer, you want the views of people who have been there, you want real facts and advice. Obviously you should talk to your GP and bereavement midwife before doing anything but it helps.
10 months on
The last 10 months have been a blur of emotions and many, many ups and downs. You hear so much about how grief is a very changeable up and down cycle. For me its been in all directions and very different day to day, hour to hour sometimes. I try not to put too much pressure on myself when I’m feeling fragile.
Lots of people who are going through baby loss ask me how Mark and I stay so strong and together. The simple truth is that we talk. We share our grief. We give each other space when we need it, even when one of us needs more closeness. We are honest. That said, we have always communicated well. If i feel insecure or sad i tell Mark, worrying about upsetting him makes things work and vice versa. You can be afraid to hurt each other with honestly about your emotions. We have already been through the worst thing imaginable, there isn’t anything worse. Many of my friends who are no longer together have drifted away due to lack of communicating or one of them running. You cant outrun grief, you cant outrun the reality of whats happened.
Mental Health & Trauma
Initially when i went to my GP and was referred for CBT i didn’t get through as the therapist (rightly so) thought that i was still in the initial grief process and needed to deal with that first. Mark did get CBT at that time, but he was also dealing with his own personal issues he had so needed it more.
I returned to CBT 4 months later and i am still having it now. Following some issues at our wedding which resulted in both Mark and I feeling very broken and hurt we both relapsed into our trauma. We both have PTSD and we are grieving. Sadly some people who are no longer a part of our lives decided our wedding night was the time to get drunk and cause a scene with some of our closest friends and family there. Luckily it was right at the end and ended fast, but it really put a dark light on a day that we so looked forward to. A day we deserved to be perfect. The wedding planning had kept us going. It felt like yet another kick in the teeth. Resulting in Mark waking up hearing the NICU beeps the day after our wedding, me smelling Jacks scent and sobbing in his nursery. People have no idea the pain you go through when you lose a baby.
I work through my trauma, anxiety and depression everyday. Im getting there. It takes time and care. Patience and resolve. Its a process and you cannot rush it. You have good and bad days. I have such anger sometimes that i want to scream. I find i vent what is realistic and then discuss what i need to in session. Vocalising how you feel is so important, that said not everyone will understand. Choose who you trust with your emotions. You will find many people want you to open up but not all are doing it for sincere reasons. Some just want to know to be nosey. Look after you and outline your safe people. Take time and just breathe.
Helpful links for getting space.
One useful thing to do when you feel overwhelmed is to meditate or take some time.