Watching a friend experience the loss of their baby and the grief that remains can feel so helpless. Unfortunately, there isn’t a “one-size fits all” approach to support a grieving friend through loss, but there are many ways to be supportive. When my daughter died at 33-days-old, it was the first loss of this type…
Just as I held his three sisters on the day of their births, I held him on my chest for hours on the day he was born. Whilst we heard the healthy screams of babies in the rooms around us, our room was as quiet as could be. A blanket of sadness and peace covered our suite. It drowned out the sounds of the happy families around us. It was just my husband, myself and him, our precious son.
When my daughters were born I took hundreds of photos of them. They were miraculous little beings and I couldn’t believe that they had been given to me to raise and look after. On the day our son was born I never picked up my camera. It wasn’t because he wasn’t as miraculous as his sisters, because he truly was a beautiful miracle but for whatever reason we were only allowed to keep him with us for a day. I couldn’t put him down and so I didn’t pick up my camera that day. We had moments with him, not years. I savored every last-minute with him until the midwife took him from our arms for the very last time.
I have little evidence of Christian. A few surgical images that the kind midwives tried to make more gentle on us by having him hold a flower. I have some clothes that he wore and his hand and foot prints. We are blessed enough to live in a state that recognized his life with a birth certificate. That is something that I have not taken for granted.
Our son was not a “lost pregnancy” or a “stillborn” as some have described him. He was not a “sad thing” that happened to us or a “tragic circumstance”. He was a baby, my baby, our baby. A human being. I glowed the day he was born. I call it The Mother Glow. It happens to every mother regardless of whether her baby breathes or not. That memory of my glowing reflection in the mirror that day, is enough evidence for me that he existed. I am not one for selfies but I wish I had of taken a picture of myself that day, standing there in front of the hospital bathroom mirror. I feel so blessed to have that birth certificate as I know that there are thousands of parents out there who did not receive one and there are thousands of parents out there that will not receive one in the coming days, months and years. In truth, all of our babies existed whether or not the state we live in recognised them as human beings. We know they existed, we will always know this. Nobody can tell you that your child was not a person. You carry their glow in your heart. It is proof of their existence. My heart is rich because that is where he lives on. I honour him each day in my moments of sadness and in my moments of happiness. Us bereaved parents – we are warriors. We fight to keep our children’s memories alive. We create legacies for them and we carry their glow, the proof of their existence wherever we go. Their lights will never go out.
I will not let anyone define my son or my grief for me. I don’t care if people think that I should get over him and I don’t care if people think I do not grieve for him hard enough because I am happy. Whatever people think of me is none of my business, nor is it my issue. I live a beautiful life, sure, it’s not perfect, in fact in some areas it’s quite broken, messy and disorganized, but it is beautiful. I honour the life of my son by living my own life in the best way that I can and in truth, living this life in an incredible honour and so I live it to the fullest with him, right there in my heart.