Tag Archives: grief

Melody and Me

Grief Timescale – We’re Not Ill

My grandparents are in a cemetery; my Dad is in the same one, burial spaces decades old. I don’t visit them often, not because I have forgotten them, or I am finished missing them; their cemetery is just outside of our town, it is not always easy to pop out to visit them.

I talk about them; share memories. People listen and they too share memories of their missed loved ones.

In the years since I have lost my grandparents, since I lost my dad, since my mother lost her husband; it never ever occurred to me that there was a time limit of how we grieve.

Of course the loss of these people, were – are very different to losing our daughter. Losing her and watching others go through the loss of theirs; the way in which society brushes off our losses.

When we visit our daughter, which we don’t very often these days; we do at least for special occasions; like her birthday, anniversary and Christmas; more often than not carnival and Halloween too. As we walk through the cemetery and see beautiful fresh wreaths places onto graves whose names have faded, or are decades old; still loved and still very much a part of whoever tends to said graves. I would never judge, or have ever thought of this as an odd thing to do.

I certainly would never question their grief, or that they still tend or speak of them. Every single person’s grief is individual, we all wear it differently.

What has led me to here? Well I came across a news article about a Mum wanting to decorate her baby’s grave. This isn’t an issue to me, or to anyone other than the family. But I made the mistake of reading the comments from the general public – our society; whilst I have no idea who the family involved are I think it effects every single bereaved parent.

There were comments after comments about the Mum needing help, counselling; how she should concentrate on the children she does have. That seven years is too long to be grieving or visiting a grave.

I don’t think it is because I am a Mum who has buried her child; but it would never, ever cross my mind to question the grief of anyone – to judge another person visiting a lost loved one.

Can you imagine going to someone and passing comment about how they visit their husband too much? Or that they talk about them too much now that they’re not here.

I genuinely cannot understand why society feels the need to judge on such a personal thing, an emotion often raw. I am five years down the line – almost six; but there are some moments that will catch me off guard and take me back to that raw emotion of hearing the words. “She isn’t going to survive.”

With me being five years down the line, I have questioned myself about whether I talk about her too often; whether I visit “too much.” I have also often wished this had never happened, that she wasn’t my daughter; I have also debated about never visiting her grave.

But I can’t simply block her out; and I am no one of those people who doesn’t believe she lives within us, if you have followed over the years; you will know this is something I have always battled with myself about.

Letter M in a garden.

When I don’t visit I get that huge guilty feeling, especially if it has been weeks on end; I also feel guilty if I don’t take her something; I know she doesn’t know any difference –  and I am painfully aware that she is dead. But I am her Mother; just as I feel guilty when I can’t watch my son’s choir concert, or forget his University show.

The times when I can’t afford to buy my eldest the latest Now album; or the days when I accidently don’t treat them all the same.

So, when I read how society believes I should be how they think I should be over her by now; how visiting however many years is unhealthy. Let me tell you, the only thing that is wrong here; is not that I cry for her occasionally; that I miss and talk of her.  Please help me to understand.

It is that she IS dead; there is absolutely nothing I can do about that; but I will forever be her Mum. I can’t cuddle her or tuck her in to bed, I can’t see her walk across a stage ready for her Nativity; or hear her sing out of tune.

I can’t have a school report; or see Christmas Cards for her from her friends. I’ve never held her hand to walk across the road; just like she will never have a sleep over or taste ice cream.

She, we will have never experienced any of these things.

So if I am still visiting her grave; or including her this year – five years on or in 25 years; please don’t judge; be kind; don’t assume that I am ill.

I am her Mum; the only thing that is wrong about this is that she died.

melody and me

Family Holiday Minus One

We always knew that anything we would ever do as a family, would be filled with bitter-sweet emotions that come with knowing that there is a tiny human missing; nothing will ever fill that gap, I guess that part we didn’t really expect, but there is and we cope with that permanent void.

I’m not really wanting to talk gaps, I’m wanting to share a little moment whilst on holiday, which had us all chuckling.

I’ve begun taking a collection of photos to use when I write for Still Standing and for this blog too, something for Melody but without using her photos all the time. Whilst I am “lucky” (definitely wanting a better word), to have so many of them, I worry about repeating them too frequently, especially with the two areas I write in. I don’t have aging photos, so I’ve a prop in the hope I can include her a little more.

We went camping in Oxfordshire, days out – making memories, what better way to begin this project than to start while on holiday.

This one in particular I had placed my prop, ‘M’ onto this rather pretty looking Wishing Well, I have spent many times wishing that things were different, I know nothing will change, wishing is all I have.

I took a step back to capture this frame, as I looked into my camera my youngest daughter – Melody’s sister runs into the shot, she grabs the ‘M’ and throws it straight into the Well, fortunately it wasn’t deep, there was a grate covering the bottom, all the children yelled baby’s name, the prop was retrieved but it made us all laugh, it got me thinking; imagining this prop was replaced with her (I don’t think this by the way, ‘M’ is not Melody, I know I don’t have to justify myself – but still).

I closed my eyes and everything was different.

I imagined this five year old strawberry blonde haired girl, sitting on the wall of the well waiting for her siblings to crowd around her for yet another photo opportunity, only for her little sister to push her in the well. She wouldn’t have been hurt, she’d have been embarrassed, and annoyed for a few minutes, would have shouted at her sister, then the laughing would have begun, the whole picture would have been different, five laughing children, no props just them. It would have been a moment that would have been brought up in conversation about our break away.

But of course, I am here Day Dreaming, it isn’t okay, it is what it is, a day dream. While there is no changing what has happened, and that Melody isn’t here; but I can share this moment of laughter that included all of my children, for the very first time in 5 years 4 months and 23 days I actually felt her with us, I felt like I had five children that day.

I always say I have five children, I have never shied away from having five but the truth in my head has always felt there to be just the four of them, which to anyone looking at us can see. It felt so wonderful, to feel her there with us, it has been something I thought would never come; it is strange trying to bond with someone who isn’t here, to bond with a child who never properly felt like ours in life or even in death over the years. Very difficult to explain fully, because even I can’t quite understand that part.

Not only was a new memory made but I finally feel like Melody’s Mummy.

 

Melody and Me.

xx

 

melody and me

It Is Okay To Cry

I don’t cry for Melody a lot these days; I certainly don’t when amongst people. I’m open about our loss, about my grief; but the tears for me I prefer they fall in private, more I think because often society gets frightened by tears, by emotion.

When tears particularly of sadness show, head tilts and the comments of worry.

“They’ve been crying again.”

“I’m sure they should be over all that now.”

“They’re obviously not coping.”

“They should get help.”

 

Crying is okay, sadness is okay. They’re both more than okay to happen.

There was a charity event in aid of two charities; one of course is very close to my heart, involving Melody, out of nowhere the day made me feel incredibly emotional, it was an overwhelming feeling on how well the day was going.

I never expected to begin crying, I never expected it to remain like a cloud hovering over me for the rest of the day. I hadn’t felt that way in such a long time.

I get a tap on my shoulder to tell me my son was also in tears. As I did my best to remove him from the eyes looking at him, at us his tears turn to sobs; I knew then they for him were a release. They were loud, and so perfectly natural.

My children also rarely cry over their sister, they speak of her always, but never with sadness. He just let go so much, I could see in his face it was such a relief for him. He loved his sister dearly, although together for such a short time they were close. He, along with his older sister and us we all hurt over the loss over this girl, a loss which is incredibly complex, and so terribly misunderstood.

Having these overwhelming bursts of emotion means nothing of being strong or of signs of weakness. But of just how consuming the loss of baby, a child can be. Grief can pull you under, making it incredibly hard to breathe; I now know it will pull me back to the questions, to the complete brain fog of wondering how the hell we got from this tiny cuddly baby, to doing things for her in memory of.

People have often said they’re always worried about bringing up the name, or a memory of a loved one; this is very much the case where baby loss is concerned, for fear of making them cry. We’ll never forget who we’ve lost.

But there is nothing to be feared in crying, there’s nothing to be feared in mentioning a name.

Crying is good, whilst the reasons can be the ugliest things in the world, watching pure sobs, as I did with my son at this event, as I held him tight to my chest, I found it can be the most beautiful and uplifting thing to see, the release is empowering.

Children are incredibly versatile, I know today for him is a far better day. For me it’ll take a few days to get my head around things, I find the strength of these emotions very draining. But I will be okay.

I always am.

Melody and Me

Stages of Grief

The stages that once all are completed, everything is better.
 

 Denial.

Anger.

Bargaining.

Depression.

Acceptance.

 

 The Stages of Grief.

Since 2012 when our daughter died,  I have stepped and paused on each and every one of these stages.  Several times in fact, and in no order, but they’ve all been met and fought with on a number of occasions.
Most people know the stages,  and in the beginning in my head, with repeatedly being told that time heals,  the obsession with time I had as the weeks rolled by I would attempt to tick the words off the list in my head.
Denial – ✅ 
Anger –  ✅ 
Bargaining –  ✅ 
Depression – ✅ 
Acceptance – ✅

 All completed.  

But then, something would happen; a trigger, a thought, then one of the stages will hit again.  Not all at once or even in any order.

 

The Limbo Months

I’m currently in yet another run up to a birthday without the birthday girl, the remembrance weeks of when she was alive and felt real, then the anniversary.
Each of the above arrives in waves, each wave named after each of the grief sections.
Looking through photos of her, which isn’t something I do often, maybe for a project, or – well I don’t really need to justify myself the times that I do. I can’t quite get to grips with how she died, this baby, our tiny little baby who gave us a smile, fed, pooed..how she just died.
It isn’t about acceptance or a denial thing, let’s face it none of the five titles really are equipped to be included in baby/child loss.
I am painfully aware that she isn’t ever coming home; that she is dead, we all wish that wasn’t true. It is comprehending such a thing happening.
Even now, looking at her photos, I still cannot believe this happened to us.
Yet you still get people say “It happens for a reason.”
I think this is probably where the anger part comes in to play.

Waves

Each year the run-up to dates bring the waves, since the turn of the year, I’ve hit a couple of them, I’ve now come to realise that this time of year is difficult, how can it be anything but?
Some waves are rougher than others, nothing it seems is going to change that.
For me, the firsts were extremely painful, full of overwhelming ‘What the fuck just happened’s’?
The firsts are the worst bit. But then it turns into the seconds, when you can no longer include them in the year, or say “This time last year.”
The moving on of folk who offered mere condolences, life goes on.
The stages for those who don’t feel the full ripple effects can be ticked off the list.
It is time to move on, “it’ll only make you sad…”
Another of those beautiful quotes.
I’ve found time hasn’t healed a thing, having spoken to others they feel the same too. It is hard to imagine these years getting worse.
Then I find myself back to the feelings of
 Denial. 
Anger.
Bargaining.
Depression.
Acceptance.
Stroppy Bitch Syndrome.

Too many time limits.  Too many tick lists.
I’ve added one…
That’s me, around the same time each year, I guess there comes a point where I just can’t tolerate, little annoyances, which are probably not even that annoying.
Patience is incredibly thin.

Emotions

It is such a hard thing to explain why.  Watching friends’ children turn the age ours should have done, it is such a happy event,  but it is so bittersweet,  filled with many emotions and thoughts.
Buying flowers for a child,  cards that will never be read.
It isn’t surprising that I end up with stroppy bitch syndrome.
But I do hate the feeling too, I really don’t mean to be but I know once the heaviness of the next few months lightens, then my patience expands more.

There is certainly no black and white when it comes to the stages of grief, they certainly don’t disappear once you’ve completed them.  Let’s be honest they’re not exactly an accurate guide, or at least for me, I don’t think it is.
These waves are crushing don’t let me paddle alone.  I don’t want to drown. Stages of Grief

melody and me

Melody and Me. Holding On For Dear Life.

The countdown to Melody’s birthday.

February 7th 2012 23+1

 

I began to feel slightly headache-y, which wasn’t disappearing with paracetamol, accompanied with some blurry vision I just didn’t feel right. So to be on the safe side I booked myself in to see the midwife, due to my history of Pre-eclampsia when I’d had my daughter, I was aware of the symptoms, I kind of knew it was too early but I just wanted to be safe and get checked out…
(Excerpt from Mayflower’s Rainbow)

On This Day

 
On this day in 2012, something wasn’t right. But having clear test results days later, I knew at that moment I could breathe a sigh of relief. A false alarm, it was far too early to have this.
Counting down the days until her birthday.
Keeping myself busy; too busy to think too much.
Too busy to remember that, I really should be shopping for something for her birthday.
I don’t even know what she would have liked.
Of course, I am told not to dwell on this, not to think about this too much.
Why shouldn’t I?
I have no idea what her favourite obsession would have been?
Crafts?
Princesses?
Would she have been a Tom Boy?
I am allowed to wonder.

Dreams

I remember watching a video about skin to skin and kangaroo care, a beautiful thing to watch.
Then I am hit as if I’d been punched in my stomach, a glimpse of the poorly, premature babies.
The wave of new pain arrived again.
We weren’t allowed to have skin to skin often, we had it, don’t get me wrong.
Given the importance of kangaroo care, it was never enough.
It hurt, so much.
These precious babies being cuddled better.
Mine…gone.
I do sometimes wonder whether had we been phoned sooner, could I have cuddled her better?
A fairy tale dream perhaps.
Always felt like she never belonged to us.
Whatever is out there, will never be enough.

Melody and Me

23 Days old, we get to have skin to skin.
Tucked into my bra, she was tiny, warm and happy.
Albeit wet from a teary shower.
The power of skin to skin is amazing.
I wish we’d had more.

Projects

Working on a project involving Melody, something I needed to do.
Feeling incredibly honoured to be asked for an input, I knew I could do it, just words, reflection.
Talking about Melody.
Felt wonderful getting it down again, bringing her memory to the forefront of my mind.
Then…
The neonatal doors were closed; there was a privacy board around a cot. We walked in, attempted to walk to where our little girl had been the day before when we realise that the cot behind the privacy board was indeed our daughter. She’d been moved to ITU overnight.
A doctor came to us and told us that she wouldn’t survive… 
 
Floored for a moment. Wondering why I did this to myself.
But I’m not *really* doing this to myself, this is me, us. Our story.
Could feel the tears coming, it isn’t torture, it hurts.
But why wouldn’t it?
Our baby died.
I am trying to be busy, to be strong.
To be brave.
But I really am holding on for dear life…
then you were two

Then She Was Two

Today is the day you should have been two.
The day you should be ripping paper almost eager to know what’s inside..
Today is the day you were meant to turn two.
The day you could have been stamping your feet,
while needing to wait to try your new ride.
Today is the day you would have been two.
The day to jump around in welly boots,
Play hide and seek and eat chocolate mousse.
Today is the day that you won’t be turning two.
Your missing laughter, the silence that replaces you.
Today is the day we’re left wishing that you were two.
Still wondering, still holding on to memories so tight.
This time two years ago you came rushing into the world,
you were our Rainbow Baby our light at the end of the tunnel.
Our little Miss fidgety pants.
Today we not lighting candles for you to blow out,
we’re lighting them as a memory.
Today we are giving you flowers,
instead of toys…I can’t imagine ever giving a two-year old flowers as a present,
they would be disappointed. So why are we left to do this?
Today we have to try to not cry,to try to focus that we were “lucky” to have had you for the 5 weeks we were blessed with.
It may well be two years sweetheart,
but this year is harder than the first.
Last year I could say “I met you last year”
Now I can’t even remember your smell,
how soft your hair was,
or imagine how tiny your little nose was.
 I don’t even know what colour eyes you would have had. Your baby sister’s eyes are hazel.
Time hasn’t healed, it’s only taken you further away.
I can wish as hard as I possibly could, yet it would never come true.
I hope that if heaven is real to you that you’re having a wonderful party with your friends, flying high.
We may have only had you for 35 days, but we do miss you.
Happy Birthday Darling
Love always
Today is the day you turn two.
Mummy and Daddy
Capture your grief

Capture Your Grief 2012 Day One: Sunrise

Today the project begins with Sunrise. Which for us is very apt, the day Melody was born 26th February 2012, she brought the first of the Spring Sunshine. 90% of the 35 days that Melody was with us the sun shone, even wearing Flip Flops and vest tops, that time of the year, seemed crazy!
Weather had become one of the two things I became obsessed with in the first few weeks of losing Melody. If it rained I knew it was Melody’s way of reminding us of her, playing with the hose pipes, or turning on the heat lamps when (or if) the sun shone.
Today is also 6 months since we we’re told she wouldn’t survive. That she would in fact never come home. Our lives changed forever.
So here is my first instalment of Capture your grief, isn’t particularly done well as we don’t really have the beautiful sunrises that a lot of places have, Plus we’re surrounded by buildings, so here is the start of a sunrise
capture your grief s
Take two tomorrow