In an earlier blog post of mine, I wrote about connecting with other bereaved parents. All bereaved parents speak of an elite club we are now part of. Not through choice.
I met another bereaved mother a few weeks ago. I immediately connected with her without consciously knowing that she, too, had lost her son to SIDS. We discovered our shared loss later on, via email. It’s uncanny how grief unwittingly draws you to people.
In her email, she said “one can always spot a parent that has gone through the death of their child a mile off… there always seems to be a light out in our eyes”
So sad. So true. But maybe one day, that light will be re-ignited.
15th October 2014. A date that was of no significance to me before. It now marks 6 months since I lost my darling boy and is also international infant and pregnancy loss awareness day. It is something that I would have been completely oblivious to in the past but today it unites me with all bereaved parents whether they lost their baby during pregnancy, at, during or after birth. We are all united by the same, albeit different, tragic loss of a child.
All across the world, we are asked to light a candle at 7pm in remembrance of all the beautiful babies that have died. And all I keep thinking is in 3 months time I should be lighting a candle to celebrate Eddie’s first birthday.
It is just so wrong and so unfair.
Exercise has been helping me move through my grief. Apart from the obvious health benefits, playing tennis has been therapeutic for my mind. It allows me to focus on something other than my grief.
I have been playing tennis over the past few weeks with a friend who is an exceptionally good player. I typically lose each game (but it’s the taking part that counts, right?) and he kindly offered to give me a handicap to place us on an even keel. In my competitive state, I flatly refused his offer on the basis that if and when I finally win, it will be that much more rewarding.
And this week it happened. Without the handicap, I got my reward. I got my victory. It may have been one win out of many loses but it FELT SO GOOD. So good that I even did a little victory dance at the end (and properly embarrassed myself).
My grief is like a yo-yo. Up and down, down and up, not knowing how I am going to be feeling from one day to the next.
The other night I was accidentally copied in to a group email by my one of my (former) NCT friends. I didn’t spend too long looking at the contents but receiving it felt like a sucker punch to my stomach. It was a genuine mistake, and I have since received an apology, yet a horrible reminder of what my life should have been.
But like a yo-yo, I was pulled up a day later when support came in from the most unexpected of places. I received a lovely email from someone I had never met before. She wrote the kindest words of support and offered to give me the lamp she successfully bid on from the the silent auction we held a few weeks ago. It happened to be the lamp designed by Tony Chambers who I paid homage to in an earlier post. And it happened to be my favourite lamp of the collection.
It made me a very happy (and humbled) girl indeed.
My mind is a troublesome place these days. Being a natural worrier, it used to be filled with apprehension and excitement for the future. Now it’s filled with doubt and uncertainty.
As the days roll on, I keep repeating the same question to myself and Chris. Will we ever be happy again? It seems like a futile question to ask. I know happiness is not an object and cannot be obtained. It is not something we can pursue or search for.
Maybe if I knew there was an end to this constant state of purgatory it would make life a bit more bearable. Yet sadly, there is no magic ball telling us what the future may hold.
As much as I want to, I can’t go back to my old life or predict what my new life will bring. I can’t re-wind the past or fast forward to the future.
What I do have is the here and now. This moment. And all I can do, is breathe.
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”