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…
Guest Post by Sara
After my second baby died in 2008, people commented then that it was incredible I was ‘still standing’. I truly wasn’t. But, I won’t share that pain. I do want to let you know how I stood up again, and about the gifts my babies gave me.
I needed to heal. For my daughter, for my partner, for my life, and for my angels.
As an artist, I had been privileged to be able to draw my own babies in the hospital. In this way, I spent time with them, got to know them a little, before we said goodbye. I learned that this process can form an important part of grieving. Once I was ready, I extended this as a service to others, creating memorial portraits of their babies. This was the first gift my babies gave me.
I trained as a Human Givens therapist. Through this, I understood that beyond grief, we need to get our needs met, and use our skills and experiences properly and in balance. My observation is that the deep grief of losing a child, combined with unhelpful taboos around baby loss, can get in the way of this, and therefore impact recovery. After the longest time languishing and feeling really so bad, I had quick and effective treatment for the Post-Traumatic stress of witnessing my babies’ deaths. I can remember a physical sensation of a weight being lifted. Life was different from that point onwards.
In retrospect I believe I may have healed sooner with earlier treatment: the natural process of grief was invisibly complicated by my own reactions to the birth trauma. Not everyone who suffers the loss of a baby will suffer from PTS of course, but for me it was clearly effective. It is bad enough to go through the loss of a baby, without having to suffer the anxiety and other symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress too. You really do not have to feel awful for ever. Once the unwanted anxiety and symptoms of PTS had lifted, I had the space to reassess what I wanted from life. I went back to work after a long break. But I felt different and only partially present.
Going back had actually given me the courage to move on when I needed it, and this was the second gift my babies had given me. I began to understand that a desire to create is innate, together with our instinctive desire to grow. It’s as if something is switched on in pregnancy that needs an outlet. The connection with creativity is obvious.
But there is also an enormous capacity for growth after babyloss. This is an exciting area that I am working on now with some coaching clients, the third gift from my babies. It is natural that we focus on the searing pain of babyloss. That needs to happen.