I believe that healing from the loss of a child is a very slow, even life long process. I recognise that it is something I will feel in my soul probably for the rest of my life, and whilst that is a hard realisation, it also means that I can not be so hard on myself if I suddenly become emotional or have a terribly painful day, because to erase the pain completely would mean to loose the memory of my daughter, and I would never wish for that! And so we learn to live with the niggling pain as best we can, for healing is in controlling the pain and having the courage to live a full life despite it, not erasing the pain completely.
My healing has been in small portions, a rocky journey where I have done things which have required the courage to step out of my safety net and then in return I have had glimpses of hope that as time goes on and life brings us new things/experiences, that things will be easier, things will be less intense and more joy will be restored to us. But Yes, courage is the key…without torturing yourself or sending your progress backwards, often healing comes in the moments and events when you take a step of courage to do something you would otherwise avoid because of what it means and reminds you of!
It took me a lot of courage to recently welcome a pals new baby girl into the world, and whilst I was so very happy for them, seeing her wasn’t something I was immediately able to do, and I recognise that that is because she is the 1st baby girl so close to us since loosing Poppy! I just needed a bit of time and I needed to muster a lot of courage, but that’s really okay…its a first and I have leant that firsts take time! Whilst I do feel very happy for her family, and excited for them that she is here safe and looking so lovely, that she has made my friend a mother again, I know more time will be needed to feel completely at ease with it all as I still have a lot of moments of intense awkwardness around her and an inability to know how to act around such a little baby girl (I often feel like an alien)!
But the courage needed for that, whilst a lot, wasn’t as major as the thing that required my courage to a greater degree just a month ago, when we read of the heartache and tragedy that a family friends baby had died during labour. Baby Faith was a healthy and beautiful little girl, but for some unknown reason was taken home before she was born…I remember the pain of this news when we had been somewhat prepared that it was a possibility, but to be expecting a healthy baby and to have them born sleeping is a complete tragedy!
This type of news is heartbreaking to anyone that hears of it, but when you have lived this nightmarish hell yourselves, you immediately return to the moment of silence and intense soul wrenching pain when you were told your own baby had no heart beat. To then hear of it happen to someone you know, and watch them weighed down by the all too familiar burden of baby loss, well the sadness is almost paralysing that someone else has had to hear those words too!
I wept for this mother, and whilst I barely knew her on a personal level like others in our family, I just wanted to be with her and help her, my heart understood and we had an instant connection! We messaged one another and in her pain and grief she also was a strength to me in my own stage of grief as we shared poems, pictures, quotes and understanding! I believe I was in some way a little guidance and comfort to her and was able to celebrate her gorgeous daughter despite the immense tragedy surrounding her birth, and whilst I hate the circumstances that created a friendship, I am grateful for her strength and words too as we stay connected on this difficult journey.
The following week, despite much anxiety, I felt the need to be at the funeral. A lot of people thought it was a bad idea, and others thought I was the key to what they needed? Either way it was what I wanted…I wanted to show that my support was not merely words and that she was not alone, that her feelings were indeed understood and that as I had been where she was a year ago, I knew too well how hard and unfair it all felt to be burying your baby only a week after their birth.
I was in awe of their courage to perform that service to their baby and for the duration of what was a lovely funeral (despite the circumstances) it was like being a spectator of our own funeral as I saw pink flowers, a white casket and the same music to bring her in to, but I was surprised that amidst it all I held it together, yes I shed tears but never sobbed as I watched. I think I have learn’t to suppress those intense emotions, until later and so I was able to support, to hug and then I left… I felt the weight of the day tremendously in the days following, but no where near as much as I know they would have. I recognised that though it was hard and felt so fresh for me too, I had come so far to be able offer some condolence to another bereaved mother. I was healing and to be able to do all of that meant I had made some progress in this seemingly never ending journey.
Just 2 weeks later we found ourselves at the bedside of an elderly man from church that had recently passed away, and it surprised me how at ease I felt in that scenario. I felt strength to chat to his brother that wept, and to hold his hand. I then felt strength to help with funeral plans and I also felt strength to accept the invitation to sing at the funeral. I am not a great singer, but I do okay with hymns at church, and again I felt surprised by the peace I felt doing this not far from the coffin with some other ladies and then strangely found myself agreeing to a solo on one verse?!
I know for a fact that even a few months ago a funeral of an adult, let alone a baby would have been way too hard, or to see a new baby girl or hold a baby boy, or buy baby gifts for friends and family would have all been too much. I still cry over these things at times as they trigger the pain of my loss, but that is natural and I am happy I am not bitter and do have the strength to be genuinely happy in person and celebrate others happiness and then to be a support in sadnesses too! But when I think or ever consider if I could stand near a coffin and sing ?? NO WAY that certainly would have always been out of the question!! But again I am grateful that with some time, with a change in my heart and with time on my side, I have found a strange ability to talk about it and be a strength to others in their moments of loss and not just to be able to celebrate with people their births and pregnancy’s which I thought would be the bigger challenge.
I have noticed that healing is evident by how you can share your story with less rawness, how you can support others that are at the start of this and how you can do things that perhaps a year ago (or even weeks ago) were just too hard. It is a step by step process where confidence in areas of life returns, anxieties over babies and baby things reduce, joy is restored and you begin to be courageous in areas that you once would have completely avoided. I for once, in a long time, have an increase of hope in the promise of sunshine after the storm, because I am gaining the courage to do things that heal!