Last week I decided to have a social media fast! Aside from Facebook messenger to communicate with the youth I work with at church (and Nath at work), I abstained from Twitter, Blogging, Instagram and Facebook for a full week – It felt mint! Initially this was hard, but after realising how often I go on it for the sake of it, and after realising how much thought I gave to others lives as a result, I suddenly became more refreshed and free! I felt grateful for the time I had to live my life in the moment without feeling the obligation to share every moment.

During all of this I began to reflect on how I could have a better balance in my life and what changes I could make to ensure the therapy I was doing would have optimum effect in my life and healing from the trauma of loss. I wondered how I could find more peace and how I could break the cycle of reliving the trauma so much. I love social media, photography and blogging and see a lot of goodness in it, but I also became aware of things I could change to remove triggers and toxic experiences online.

The answer that came to me (and that felt right) was to stop blogging about my loss.

A scripture I have always loved since Poppy entered our lives is the one in Ecclesiastes 3 – it begins with “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven“.. it goes on to read…”A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance”. 

I love it…And I love how all things have a purpose, but sometimes only for a season. I love how birth and death are described as being moments that come at the right time, and whilst this is hard sometimes, there is purpose beyond what we understand at why these seasons come when they do! I really love that there are seasons in life that are filled with sadness and mourning and that that’s okay – because there will be other seasons of laughter and joy.

For the last 4 years I have been in a season of life that has been incredibly hard and painful. I felt inspired at the start of it to blog – write it out and share what was going on. It was cathartic and helped me write the words I could not speak. It helped others too, and connected me to people that got it. I found angels all over the world that could have those difficult conversations and they helped me through. I found and loved that the focus of living a “hearty life” and looking for “hearty moments” in the days and weeks that only felt bleak, helped me massively to survive and stay afloat – they helped me to see the hand of God in each day. And, even though I had no idea (and still don’t) as to why he needed my child home so soon blogging has helped me navigate through it.

But now I feel I have come to the end of the line. I feel like that season and chapter of my life has been written and I am entering a new season – one where I don’t need to write about my loss any more. One where mourning will be lessened and her memory and place will be treasured within our family. A season where the things I have learnt from losing her, will be used to bless people through my work and maybe even a book one day!! But her legacy and influence, I am seeing now, lives through us and how we choose to remember her. Her story is told in each sacred moment we have, and each memory and story the kids share with her name in it. We will continue to talk of her, remember and think of her, and we will continue to celebrate her birthday each year and send her balloons to heaven. We will hang a special decoration and keep the traditions we have forged to include her in our family moments and celebrations.

But now, as I look to heal from PTSD and as I hope to gain all I can from my therapy, it feels right to no longer write of the grief, the mourning and the imagery of losing a baby and having a stillbirth. It feels right to share of the things that bring me joy and create and build memories of cheer. As a result I have removed the “Baby loss” section from my header menu (it can still be found in “blog categories” in the sidebar) and from now my blog will be purely family and lifestyle – our adventures and travels, my thrifty loves and passions and my semi-cool modest style!

I love blogging and wouldn’t want to get rid of something that means so much and tells our story/journey, but now I want my writing to be focussed on something else. I want it to be fun and chilled and reflect my loves and passions.

I am moving forward from the person that needed to write and let it out – not forgetting but remembering – in a way that is more healthy and gentle on my mind. And in that “The Hearty Life” takes on new meaning – The Hearty Life is wholesome, Jovial and filled with vigour, cheer and devotion. I look and I think “Oh what a life to live and love! Oh what a life we embrace and seek for daily”!

It is that which now becomes our story and blogs! A new season…a new road…a new chapter to write!

Please note I am always happy to talk to and listen to anyone who has experienced baby loss at any stage – just drop me an email or message in social media. I will always talk to you and I will always acknowledge and count your baby, just as I do and will do with Poppy in our family. I will continue to talk of her periodically I am sure (it’s only natural). But blogging about it all has come to an end and this is simply a step to healing and gaining balance as I enter a different chapter of my life! 

Follow:

When we initially found out that Poppy had died I went into a state of shock and detachment. I felt numb and at times it was like I was just going through the motions but not 100% there. There are times even now that this is how I survive day to day and get through things in my life, but I have come to find out that this is not a way to live – only to exist.

During the period that followed our loss, I reached out to several people I knew who had also had their babies die. They told me that grief came in waves and that when it hits in the beginning it would be like a Tsunami – powerful and all consuming. With time those waves might ease, but even if they still have force behind them, I can be assured that they will become less frequent. I came to understand that grief is hard, but over time you learn to wear it more comfortably.

I have clung to this analogy and sought out many people since who have lost babies and children to find out if what I was STILL experiencing year on year was normal – I needed reassurance that I wasn’t losing it. I knew that grief was a lifelong thing, or rather living without one of my children would always feel a little sad, but my “grief” didn’t seem to be changing. Not just that but these cycles and waves of pain were actually becoming more and more frequent – the more I filled my time to distract from them, and the more I tried to “get on with it”, the more emotional and exhausted I was becoming. Each day has been a fight to stay afloat, and I have struggled over the last 3.5 years to be able to deal with anything that triggers my memories of Poppy – her pregnancy, birth, anniversaries etc. I am constantly tense, anxious and on guard at fear something may happen to my kids or Nathan, or simply that I will see a baby I wasn’t prepared for, and these situations and memories cause me a heck of a lot of distress.

We don’t know what goes on behind closed doors – but I am going to open mine to you now. For the last 3.5 years I have painted on a smile whilst often inside I am struggling. I have forced myself day after day to “get on with it” on the faith that in time it would become easier. I have sat and wept – clutching my head in pain as the thoughts and memories hurt me so much. I have yelled, shouted, thrown things in rage and become awful to my family and Nathan. I have struggled to get out of my bed and face the world and I have struggled to exist. I have been angry that I have needed help and understanding but I didn’t know why I needed it or how to get it. The more friends distanced themselves, or even seemed to just be getting on with life, the more stuck in the past I felt and the lower and less self confident I felt.

I will stress at this point that this isn’t all of the time and not every day – but it has been incredibly frequent and enough that it has negatively affected our family and my ability to fully enjoy our lives together and be a good mum. It has been enough that my husband and I both have felt for a while that there could be something wrong with me.

I struggle with disciplining my kids because I am so numb and at my limit every day. I often just burst into tears at the smallest of stresses and will often be heard saying “I can’t cope!” – Because that is all that I feel.

But then I learnt about PTSD (post Traumatic stress disorder) whilst studying my recent counselling course and quickly realised it was me on a page. It kind of made complete sense to me – Those points and symptoms – they were me and my life since I lost Poppy. I was STILL angry (even to the point of rage sometimes) and I feel guilty no matter how hard I try. I have heightened senses and am easily startled by noise and situations. I am unable to fall asleep most nights and have regular nightmares or the memories playing so vivid on repeat. I have stress and always feel at my limit, and often I just feel numb!

I detach from life and people because I feel they don’t get me, or I feel isolated even when around people. I find it hard to know how to be in some situations and all of these are things I never struggled with prior to her passing and seeing her dead.

I read on and on and all I could see was my life and my brain/behaviour since Poppy had died. It all kind of fitted.

Why were the dates, the season changes and general days when I saw a little baby so painful? Why did they make me not just sad, but anxious and tense? Why do things unrelated cause me to spiral into such dark places? It wasn’t simply because it was when she died, because I wasn’t “just sad”, it was also because the change of Summer to Autumn, and the sight of a baby, the dates and the announcements of more babies and pregnancies, the joy of baby talk and hearing of people dying, all flung me back into reliving the trauma I experienced in September of 2016!

I haven’t just had the waves of grief hitting me for the last 3.5 years, I have been consumed by the event of giving birth to my dead child and then burying her over and over, and over again. It plays out in my mind on several occasions pretty much daily, and I am bombarded with reminders of what it was like and how awful it was. I have nightmares regularly of seeing and holding dead babies and members of our family (or even random babies).

Second to that I realised I was really good at avoiding things that reminded me of Poppy and her death, and that in situations where I couldn’t avoid it, I would just disconnect!

I realised when people talk of babes and death that I freeze up and become tense. When I see a documentary or read about kids dying I obsess and panic. Even a couple of weeks ago when I saw a dead baby bird on my drive, I became anxious and emotional at how its mother must have felt (yes really!). And then when people or myself are talking I zone out. I noticed this huge change in the last couple of years that I can no longer focus or remember things like I once prided on myself on being able to do and it has been incredibly frustrating and scary! I have had moments where I go in to a shop and suddenly realise I am stood there –  numb, and unable to remember what I went in for!

The memories of losing Poppy haven’t spaced out or become any easier like I assumed they would at this stage, but rather it is all consuming and it drags me down over and over again. Sometimes I fight and sometimes I conquer. Sometimes I want to talk about her and have her remembered because it’s all I can think about. But recently I just do not have the energy anymore. I have reached a point where I have shoved so much in the cupboard of my brain and tried to get on that it has flung open and it’s time to deal with it.

When someone has suffered trauma, getting on without professional help is quite possibly the worst thing to do, as it only becomes harder to live with and all consuming. When you have PTSD your brain struggles to file away the traumatic memories and associations into the back of your mind, and constantly brings them to the front.

One thing I know now is that my grief triggers are actually trauma triggers. The hearing of birth announcements make me sad yes, but many of them cause real panic. My heart races and palms sweat and then it’s the same when I see or know I am going to see tiny babies, go past the cemetery or hospital, have her anniversaries or hear of a passing!  They make me feel allsorts – but mostly its anxiety. And it’s not always because of what I have lost, but a lot also to do with the panic of thinking “what if they lose their baby too?” or “how will they cope”!

I feel as soon as things feel good, and as soon as I am feeling joyful – another reminder, trigger or intrusive thought hits and I go right back down to how I was in the beginning. One minute I am up and without warning I am spiralling – free falling and unable to stop it. I come down with a bang and then I can’t cope. All I feel is pain, anger, despair and fear. Day to day I fight the thoughts of losing my other kids and my husband, and then in these moments I have pure anxiety for days about all sorts and I am disconnected from life, only going through the motions.

For so long it hasn’t made sense. It has been a pattern of confusion on repeat, because I am happy…but then i’m not. And the pictures I share of capturing my positive and blessed moments are all real – but they are just that – moments! And now, after more weeks of hiding indoors and only facing the world for school runs, and for all of those days of painting on a smile followed by talking lots and lots so I seem like I’m okay, I finally went with Nathan to see a Dr who referred me to the Mental health team.

I felt scared.

I felt anxious.

I felt like I had failed.

I felt as though I wasn’t enough.

But then I felt so much relief too – relief that I had finally accessed the help I needed.

For 3.5 years as I have sat in despair and mostly alone whilst these triggers have pushed me down, and as I have said in great despair and in anger and frustration, the words “I.NEED.HELP” over and over again – I finally got it. I was told after an initial assessment (and previously by my counsellor friend too) “Mary, I think you have PTSD!”.

I think I already knew that from my counselling course, but to hear those words suddenly gave me hope that if I have something wrong, that means I can be better. I can be more consistently happy, I can grieve in a more healthy way and I can be more confident and more free. I can be a better wife and mother.. a better friend and I can be well again.

The thing about PTSD that they made a point of telling me about during this consultation was that other than the anxiety attached to the trauma, we are otherwise mentally well. This explains why sometimes in life I am well and happy and having a laugh, and why at other times I am depressed, anxious and in despair!

Next week I will see a private psychotherapist and begin therapy to help me overcome the negative trauma of losing my baby girl at term. I will learn techniques to help me remember and focus on the positives of her life and presence in our family, and how to preserve her legacy without it damaging me day to day. I will be able to see life in a positive light as opposed to one of despair and fear, and consequently I will rewire my thought patterns to help me have less of these debilitating symptoms of PTSD.

To have this diagnosis makes so much sense. It means I am not losing my mind or unable to heal and let go. It means I am ill and I am living with the consequences of having trauma in my life. When Nathan and I have discussed it, it kind of all makes sense – How could I find out my baby had died, carry a dead baby inside of me for 2 days and then birth her. How could I look at one of my children dead – see her and be told I could no longer have her with me, send her to a funeral home and then bury her in the ground and return home empty, and not suffer some serious issues to my brain?

How could I think that continuing a normal life when I have experienced something so painfully life changing and awful the following weeks and months be possible?

I have suffered something horrendous that most will not in life, so please don’t tell me to get on with it or be happy for what I have when I am exhibiting symptoms associated with trauma. Please don’t pacify me with comparing others trials – These are unrelated. My blessings cannot compensate for the mental disruption the trauma of stillbirth has caused. Of course I love my family and they bring me great joy. Of course we have many things to be happy about – I am incredibly blessed – but I am also fighting a psychological disorder caused by seeing one of my children dead and that is a bit of a mess some days! It blocks me from being able to see the joy in all things and whilst on occasion I do, some days and weeks it consumes me.

I am grateful for those in my life that have consistently shown me compassion and understanding. For those who always ask how I am and take thought in announcing things they know will cause me pain. I am grateful for the friends that accept me on a daily basis wherever I am mentally and emotionally! Thank you for giving me the space to be honest and share how hard this is!

Perhaps people will read this blog and decide to be more patient and understanding – perhaps they will just continue with their life and leave me to mine – because it wasn’t them and they still don’t get it. Either way I feel hopeful now that I can find relief from my anguish and suffering. That I can reach a more healthy place to remember my daughter without the crushing pain and emotions of remembering her death, birth and burial. I hope I can remember her with fondness instead of seeing the traumatic events that followed that night when I was told “there was no heartbeat”! I hope I can have more meaningful relationships without the wedge of loss and I hope I can see in more clarity and less tarnish!

*If you can relate to things I have spoken about in this post, and have suffered a traumatic event in your life, please, please, please contact your GP or local mental health team. The longer you live with PTSD the harder it is for your brain to function and find happiness! 

 

Follow:

It’s rather Ironic that this post is all about “finding the words” and yet I have had it on my “to do” list for most of the month now – because I just could not find the words!

June is SANDS awareness month – A time of year to raise awareness on Stillbirth and Neonatal death. Their campaign this year “Finding the words”, aims to break the silence around stillbirth and neonatal death by encouraging everyone to sensitively start a conversation with someone whose baby has died, however long ago.

But where do you start? What exactly do you say to someone whose baby has died? What do you say when the unimaginable has happened? And if it was a long time ago, is that not going to be awkward to bring it up now?

The truth for most will be no. In my experience on both a personal level of having my baby be stillborn and with others I have met that have had babies die, they just want to talk about them. To have their name spoken is a wonderful thing. To be asked how we are when we are working daily against grief, is extremely touching. When that person is genuine and really wants to know, that is one big sense of relief and makes you feel happy and accepted in your loss.

My biggest fear has always been that Poppy will be forgotten. Not just that but that she will become replaced or overshadowed. I have already seen in life how very different we view her life and loss to others and this has been hard to terms with, but we are always hopeful that some people in life will still acknowledge her and be interested in how I feel about it or are coping with each passing year.

Every day in the UK 15 babies die before, during, or shortly after they are born – this is the beginning of a lifetime of coping and navigating life with loss in your heart for all of these individuals and families.

Talking about the death of a baby can feel very difficult – baby death is an horrendous thing to even think about in our day, but finding the right words at the right time can really help to support bereaved parents or families when they need it the most. At times this is often following the loss, but at other times it can also be the anniversaries or just a random day or period that it has hit them again and they are not quite themselves.

No one grieving after the death of their baby should have to do so in isolation, especially when surrounded by so many. And I would say too as a word of caution, that no one grieving should have time limits placed upon them. I cannot stress enough how important this one is and how really it is no one else’s business to inflict or put on them YOUR opinions on how they should be feeling about or viewing the death of THEIR baby at any given time. One of the worst things I have experienced is being compared to those who have had miscarriage or compared to how they would behave if they hypothetically lost a baby too!

I wish in these moments I had the self awareness and confidence to say plainly “Well you know what – it wasn’t and isn’t you”! I wish I could tell people to count their lucky stars because unless you have specifically had a baby die shortly before, during or after birth you have absolutely no idea how that would make you feel or how it would affect your future. You don’t know how it changes you or how you would want to have them remembered.

Birthing a full term baby that had died crushed me and changed me! Burying our baby in her tiny grave broke us. Crushed and broken people do not need opinions or judgements. They need genuine friends and people that can give them them the space to open up and speak their babies names. They need genuine conversations to explore what they are experiencing. Conversations that say it’s okay to feel what you feel, It’s normal to miss them and its natural to want to talk about each of your kids! When we overcome the desire to judge a person in their grief or how they handle their loss, we overcome barriers and we begin to break the silence!

I get that talking about loss is hard – it’s emotionally hard for us sometimes too and hard to explain in words how we feel or even what we need. I carry a lot of anger sometimes and at other times I carry only pain and a broken heart. On rare days I have very little of either and speak of her with fondness and a little humour. I suppose it’s hard to know which face of grief you will get?

I know also that it’s hard for you who have never been through it and I often wonder if I would know what to say if I didn’t have this experience behind me to give me the words, understanding and empathy?

But hard things shouldn’t be avoided or ignored just because they are hard. And people shouldn’t not be supported because they are a little tender or frustrated about it all. It will never become easier unless we start doing it and silence will not be broken if we don’t speak the words to try to break it.

Some people need comfort, some need to vent. We do not need to understand to show understanding to someone whose baby has died – however long ago it was!

So what do you say to someone whose baby has died? Where do you start and what possibly can make it better? The truth is – not a whole lot! And this is important to remember – your job is not to make it better but to support them whilst they learn how to live with it better. Perhaps it’s taking them a meal or watching the kids after the funeral has been and gone because real life is awful to try and return to.

Maybe it’s taking them lunch and cleaning for them because you know they cannot face life since all of this happened.

Maybe it’s baking for them and writing them a card, sending flowers, or simply telling them how you acknowledge how crappy it all is and offer whatever you can to them to help cope with life after loss.

Perhaps it’s been a listening ear – Now or months, or years later.

Maybe you invite them for a walk, lunch or a warm drink and let them speak! I had a few good people do this in the early days and it was unbelievably helpful.

There is no reason though to not do or say anything.

I could a write a whole post on the things not to say, and the awful things people have said but this post is about finding the words to say as opposed to what not to say. The most important thing is you start a conversation – you say something general and open that allows the bereaved parent/sibling/grandparent to say as much or as little as they need. If you genuinely want to hear – tell them. Many have been hurt and burned by friends or people just haven’t wanted to know. And so we build barriers and walls as a result to protect ourselves and our babies. These can come down easily if you are genuine.

The first step could be “tell me about your baby” … or maybe “How have you been since losing “Baby’s name” – sit and listen to them and then ask follow up questions as you would with any other friend and follow their lead.

Another thing is to let them know you are thinking of them. If you think of them one day, remember the anniversaries or whatever, then let them know. Send a card, a text, a message, or take it up a notch and call them or invite them out.

One of the greatest things I have had in the last 12 months was a new friend that barely knew me, and certainly never knew me when Poppy died, came over the week of her anniversaires. She laid on my couch and said “I want to hear about it all – how you are and what it’s like now ect”. She stayed for hours and let me say it. I got out a lot of suppressed emotion and I got to tell someone again how utterly unfair it all felt. She didn’t care if I was cross, hurt or frustrated – I didn’t feel judged or an inconvenience, she just wanted to listen and I felt heard and supported.

Yesterday we called by the cemetery on our way home from Grandma’s. WIth it being Fathers day we try to see Poppy and now Nathan’s Dad too. Its hard but we appreciate those moments to reflect on the life and our relationships with those we have lost.

Megan leaned over Poppy’s grave and in a tone like she was speaking to one of her best friends, I heard her say “Hello Poppy – oh how you have been in my heart for such a long time!”. I don’t often cry by her grave because it makes me feel numb more than anything, but yesterday I choked! Oh how our newly turned 6 year old summed up how we all feel in a moment of childhood innocence and play beside her baby sisters grave.

Yes – We carry our babies daily in our hearts instead of our arms. And that feels like such a long time. To you it may seem like ages ago that we lost our baby, but each September and on other random dates throughout the year we remember as though it was yesterday. Most days (if not every day) I will think of Poppy in some light. You will not in anyway bring up the past or cause more grief for speaking the name of our daughter. You will instead offer the gift of supporting her mummy who struggles on. You will offer the gift of validating her life by speaking her name in this world. And you will let us know that she is not forgotten or overlooked, but remembered too.

Living with loss is our present and constant…I am a text away. A facebook message or a phone call. Your friend, sister, colleague, cousin – they are all in easy access. This month you can help by reaching out, starting a conversation, offering a listening ear and breaking the silence on baby loss. Lets hang out, lets talk, lets understand.

Follow:

When you eat mostly chocolate as your daily food intake, and wallow around sobbing and feeling anxious and gaining pounds by the second, you know you’ve hit rock bottom and are pretty miserable! And yes, this is a scene that frequently plays out in my life. You see, sadness or grief is something I experience frequently, and I suppose it is all part of my “new normal” package I received when my child died!

Sometimes I know what will trigger these emotions, and whilst they are difficult, I have learnt that I can be on my guard, and this often in the short term avoids me spiralling into the depths of misery and negativity. I know for example, that entering certain situations or doing certain things, will ultimately hold sadness for me, and this has been okay to bear (mostly) and I can cope. Whilst I may get tired from fighting it, ultimately it isn’t so bad as the days when I am caught off guard.

For me it is in the moments I am least prepared for it that the sadness grabs me and pulls me down – it’s on these days it strikes the hardest – with low mood, constant crying, some anxiety, and a desire to hide away from it all! I know for some it is easy to label it as depression, and I assure you I have gone through every type of mental health problem with these symptoms that I can think of. I have asked time and time again “What is wrong with me?”! “Am I depressed? Am I Bipolar (because I was on one yesterday)? Is it hormonal?”! And right now I do not know the answer to that. I do not know if it is simply the messy and very natural occurrence of grief since stillbirth, or if it is the effects of trauma and I have an element of PTSD? I don’t know if there are underlying and deeper mental health problems that I may need to explore. All I do know is that whilst we all get sad from time to time, (frustrated and stressed about things too), for me it is different to normal. For me it has become, and is, a very real and regular occurance in my life that makes me feel often at my limit and searching for joy.

I have had depression before (PND), and whilst some emotions and behaviors are similar, with this I can cleary pinpoint it back to 2014 – when my world came crashing down and I endured the trauma of having a stillbirth, and burying my baby. It went against all that is natural and now I am frequently sad and brain doesn’t work how it used to!

It is an almost daily battle to lift up my pain, grief and loss and try to wear it comfortably!

In the last 3.5 years I have grown in confidence with this and have come to the conclusions that those who judge me in how I respond to my grief, or choose to wear it, are obviously completely oblivious to my pain and need to mourn. You see, when I am sad I am also very fragile, and sadness isn’t all that comes in the package. The sadness is only the start because it also leads to feeling rather discouraged about every aspect of my life, momentary anger and stress and a general feeling of inferiority and longing for more joy.

I begin to think I am failing at everything.

That I am not very good at anything. 

I am not myself – But I am always sad.

I am emotional.

And I am fighting hard to survive!

But how do you get out of that? How do you stop it from making you go insane? Stop it from drowning you and consuming your life?

Yes I think it’s completely fine to be sad, to have things move us to tears, and to mourn losses – sadness is natural. But to stay there long term is not. And so here are the steps I take, and the things I do that help me embrace the grief, but also then help me to move through it and be better at the other side! I guess they are my steps to self care to cope with it all!

My steps to moving forward in Sadness! 

1.Let it out / feel it

This is a vital step to being able to move forward. For too long in the beginning I tried to suppress my sadness thinking that being strong meant I shouldn’t cry, and that to cry meant I was weak. This only made it worse and, meant the periods of grief lasted for longer. Now when I feel it I cry, I sob, I whine, I mourn, and I feel every raw emotion that at other times I keep a lid on. In these moments I remember what it felt like to be told my daughter had died, and to then give birth and how hard it all was. I look at how different life looks and feels because of it, and It is a sad thing that still makes me sad…and that’s okay.

I feel it… I acknowledge it, and I remember it’s okay to not always be okay!

Letting it out, and riding the waves of sadness and grief are so important in finding calmness at the otherside and coping with the stresses of life after loss!

2.Talk

Some people are very private when going through struggles and deep grief, and won’t talk or mention it to others. But I am not one of those people. I am a talker, and a wear my heart on my sleeve type – I find it both therapeutic and strengthening to be able to talk to a friend, counsellor, family member, or SANDS group about how I am feeling, all of the thoughts racing through my mind and how sad I am at that point in my life.These days that friend is usually Nathan or my older sister, because I have found that both allow me the freedom to go over and over the same old points I need to in order to try and make sense of them. They allow me to talk nonsense, or to bring up things that to others are uncomfortable.

With Nathan I find he holds me, my pain, and lets me speak. He seems to get now that for me, talking about how I am feeling is so important to feeling Okay again.

3.Veg!

Being that sad, anxious about things, and generally emotional completely wipes me out. I often feel exhausted, drained and unable to function and complete my usual daily tasks. I remember how in the first year of loss, it left me feeling everyday like I had the flu because my whole body was literally trying to carry that burden and it was tough. Only on occasion do I now get that sad, but when I do I feel it all over – headaches, pain and tiredness.I have discovered that as the heart is the life of the body, when it is broken, it’s effects are felt through pain and aching in your entire body – heartbreak is all consuming.

The way for me to feel better in these moments is to veg. I do like to go for nature walks and do things that lift my spirits on days I feel a little “meh”, or in need of a rest to my soul, But on the days I hit rock bottom, I just veg! I drink Pepsi Max, eat rubbish and I don’t get dressed/do my make up. I take time out from the day to day things, and binge on treats, have a diet of chocolate for 24hrs and just snuggle in my bed or on the sofa. I stay at home and I’ll watch films to take my mind off things and give me emotions a rest. And i’ll sleep more than usual, because I am more tired than usual! The house work and laundry will still be there tomorrow, and whist I always manage to feed the kids and get them to school (success), I have learnt that sometimes looking after our emotional and mental needs has to be prioritised over those day to day menial things!

Vegging is not lazy when your emotions are wrought – it is necessary, and an important step in rebuilding yourself from a point of pure sadness!

4.Write about it!

I found writing to be a great therapy for me early on in all of this. Once I have let it out and rested from the day to day demands, I will pick up a pen and write down what I have been feeling and thinking in my journal. Some of that I will filter out on to my blog, to help others, but often the deeper things I keep private.

Writing to me is an essential step that not only helps me process what has just happened, and how hard it was… what my thoughts and feelings were and what caused it, but finally gets it all out of me and then I can close the book on that period of grief and sadness and pick myself back up again!

5.Read things that will motivate and strengthen me

Initially I don’t particularly enjoy hearing positive quotes or uplifting messages, they irritate me, because in my mind none of it means much and I already know it all – I’ve heard it before! At that point of sadness I am purely lead by my heart and the emotions of sadness from the broken, empty part left by poppy. When I am sad, I want to be sad. I want to cry, I want to talk about it all and I want to veg. I do not want positive stories and quotes until I am ready to process them, and only after the processes of steps 1 -5 do I find I want to be inspired and motivated to get up, put one step in front of the other and start walking through life again!At that point I will scroll through pinterest, I will read positive thinking books or talks from leaders in our church, and I will turn the pages of my scriptures to look for things that will build me. From here I set a couple of goals to apply those things and then head into reminding myself that…

6.Remember that there is no time limit

This quite possibly is the most important step. However sad you feel, and for however long you have felt that way…however you chose to deal with it, it is so important to remember grief has no time limit and will hit in the most unlikely situations. There will always be the expected dates and places that make you feel sad, and sometimes only briefly, but if sadness hits, months or years down the line it’s okay.
It isn’t a race, and there is no particular time you need to aim for to be able to broadcast to the world “Hey remember me whose baby died – yeah I’m all fixed and better now!”… you know, the hard reality is that I don’t believe you ever will be all better. I believe you can live a full life, but there will always be an element of sadness attached to some things, and it’s remembering with that to say “There is nothing wrong with me. It is not a lack in my faith or inability to heal. It is simply a fact of life…an act of love and the natural effects on ones heart from suffering a major loss”.

Sadness and grief have no time limit, and having a plan in place to get through it, bare it and come out of it again is something I find essential to carrying this, and living a joyful life in the easier moments despite that aching!

Always Remember…

Sadness and low mood from grief makes you feel less – you are not!

Vegging doesn’t mean you are a bad person or parent – a day of TV is fine and your kids will not suffer as result or be any less intelligent, it is self care for you and an essential step in being able to cope with the burden of sadness. 

Being sad doesn’t mean you are a failure or inferior to anyone else – it means you are normal and feeling the effects of losing someone or something you deeply love.

It’s okay to ask for help. Whether it’s a friend. family member or counsellor – Choose people you know will respect you and hold you, not tell you to move on, get over it or make you feel less for being sad!

Success and happiness can still result from a life where grief is a recurring scene! At times this may not seem true and it may feel like a balancing act, but you soon begin to realise that as you feel deeper pain, you are also able to feel deeper joy in contrast – and that is a strange, and yet very beautiful thing! 

Follow: