Since returning from Amsterdam, I have been on an almighty low. The conference allowed us to focus solely on Eddie and on our grief. We were immersed in 4 days worth of conversations dedicated to research and supporting bereaved parents.
As ridiculous as this may sound, a part of me felt that the conference would help me search for answers and bring back Eddie. As if we could get Eddie back in return for attending. Yet here we are, back at home. And despite encouraging advances in medical research, we have still lost our baby boy. Our lives are still broken.
But since returning home, I have found some comfort in being outdoors. Without sounding like a tree hugging hippie, I have found it therapeutic to be outdoors, to take deep breaths and inhale the fresh air. On Monday, a friend of mine took me to a ‘pick your own farm’ in Surrey. It was rewarding to focus on the task in hand, to mindfully pick the apples from the tree and the potatoes from the ground. I also felt a little bit self-righteous that evening when cooking for my sister and brother-in-law.
In search of more country air, I drove to Marlow today to visit an old friend. I have written about connecting with other bereaved parents since Eddie died but I am also grateful for re-connecting with old friends and friends from my childhood. They remind me of my life before Eddie and stir up good feelings of nostalgia. It had been a while since we last saw each other but it was as if we had just spoken yesterday. It was a true testament to an old friendship.
A cup of tea, some food and a good ol’ catch up was just what I needed. That, and a breath of fresh country air.
I am writing this post from Amsterdam. Driven by a desperate need to search for answers, we are here for for the International Conference on SIDS, stillbirth and baby survival. The conference is a mixture of health professionals and bereaved parents. All are united by a passion to prevent stillbirth and infant loss. All are united to support bereaved parents who have gone through a similar tragic loss to ours.
We have felt honoured to meet leading professors who are utterly determined and dedicated to fight for baby survival. And privileged to meet others who are tragically in the same club as us.
It has been a tiring few days. We have consiously not exposed ourselves to too many sessions, especially those that are very medicalised. But we have been enveloped in support and it’s the most comfortable environment to openly speak about Eddie to people we have never met before.
In the time between sessions, we have taken long walks down the canals and taken the time to soak in the fresh air and sunshine. It has given us time to reflect. Time to think about Eddie. And importantly, precious time together.
I’d like to end this post on a quote taken from one of the sessions we attended earlier today: “Grief is like a shadow. It’s always there. You can’t see it in the dark but it is very visible in the bright sunshine”
When you lose a child, a part of the self is cut off. In his book, The Spiritual Lives of Bereaved Parents, Dennis Klass talks about the metaphors that parents use to describe how they are feeling. This extract really struck a chord with me:
Many parents find the metaphor of amputation useful. In a meeting, a father said, “It is like I lost my right arm, but I’m learning to live as a one-armed man”. Like amputation, parental bereavement is a permanent condition. The hopes, dreams, and expectations incarnate in the child are now gone…For the amputee, the raw bleeding stump heals and the physical pain does go away. But he lives with the pain in his heart knowing his limb will not grown back. He has to learn to live without it. He rebuilds his life around his loss…
We bereaved parents must do the same