Grief affects people in many ways, each in a unique way to themselves. There isn’t any right or wrong way to grieve the life you have lost. This includes losing a child; we all know it isn’t the right order of life, this is what makes child loss so complex; it is the unimaginable, the unthinkable. No two people’s experiences are the same.
What kinds of emotions might you feel after loss, and how do you deal with them?
I think it is hard to fully explain what emotions you feel. I could say I was sad and devastated, but I have felt sadness and what I thought was devastation during my lifetime, neither of them could be associated with the aftermath of our daughter’s death. Neither seemed to match up with the pain that rips through your entire body; yet at the same time leaves you barely standing, but somehow you find the strength to leave the hospital and begin to figure out what the hell happened, and what would be next. You just keep on breathing.
You have to deal with it; there isn’t a right or a wrong way of dealing with such a loss. Many people assume that bereaved parents curl up in a ball and cry all day – so what if they do, if trying to sleep away the pain is a way of making the early days easier, then let them be. This wasn’t something we did, we had to grieve not only for ourselves but for my older two children too; we weren’t free to break in the way people expected to, we had their feelings, their grief to take into consideration.
I know people expected us to hide our loss away, but they had met and spent time with their sister, she wasn’t going to just disappear one day.
Everything about the early days are raw and overwhelming.
What are the common triggers for these emotions?
In the beginning, the sheer thoughts and memories of what has happened can be a hard trigger. Going over and over the hours which led to her death and knowing that no matter what thoughts enter your head; there’s nothing that will ever change the outcome. That part takes your breath away – every time.
The milestones which followed her death, especially within the first year but even more so the second year dates too. These are hopes and dreams which had been taken away; a missing child from events or birthdays. Not knowing who they could have become, or how they’d have fitted in within the family setting.
How Do You Deal With Grief?
It is kind of like learning to walk again, I am a completely different person to how I was before. It has been the most difficult times I have ever experienced, and hope to never experience such things again. As mentioned before, having the older two children, I had to learn to deal with my grief very early on. I couldn’t break the way I truly felt I needed, even the funeral there was no real room to collapse in a heap and sob loud sobs, to let myself go. I wanted to be strong for them. But at the very same time, we have always followed their lead; allowed their tears, (don’t get me wrong, they have seen me cry on occasions too) allowing them to feel their grief for their sister.
Giving up was never an option.
What Effect Did Social Media Have On You?
It became my saviour; I was very poorly during pregnancy and had made friends with people who were due the same time. They supported me throughout the pregnancy, and then continued to do so when she died. Online loss forums were also a lifeline too, it helped me to feel less alone. I felt more comfortable being at home, it was easier than watching friends cross the street or people just completely ignoring you. Social media, made the early days a tiny bit more bearable.
What Advice Would You Give To Someone Who Is Experiencing The Complex Range Of Emotions?
Please remember your baby, infant, child has died, there is no at least. Such a loss simply cannot be belittled or swept away.
There is no rush to find the new normal; there is also no pressure to lose your old self either. Take one day at a time, take one hour at a time if you need to; rushing through the grief process can at times set you back. Sadly your baby will always be gone, but self-care is incredibly important to recover enough to function.
Don’t be ashamed to cry, let it out – scream; sob if you need to. It isn’t fair and it should never have happened, babies and children shouldn’t be dying. So, letting yourself go to the emotions is more than allowed.
Don’t give up, you will find peace. One day, maybe not straight away, but you will learn how to cope, you won’t heal; you’ll just know how to make the grief comfortable.
There is no timescale.