An Open Letter to My Non-Grieving Friends and Family: Why I Need Space to just Exist
To simply exist is tough. Existing is draining. Existing is outright exhausting, when one is existing without a piece of themselves.
Can you imagine? That’s a silly question, no one can imagine the unimaginable, and losing your child is the unimaginable. Unless you have lived it, you will never understand, and that’s a good thing. To understand is to be one of us, and I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. No one deserves this.
It’s the scenario everyone looks at only briefly when you see a news story, or that post on Facebook about the mum who lost her kids – be they a baby, an infant, a toddler, a child or even an adult. You say to yourself ‘Oh how awful,’ look at your own children and think ‘that’s terrible, lucky it isn’t me.’ And in the back of your mind, perhaps subconsciously, ‘It will never happen to me, though.’
It’s the same rhetoric I heard as a pregnant woman, before I lost my baby in utero at 41 weeks. There are a thousand voices telling us ‘It’s so uncommon’, ‘It almost never happens’, ‘Your body knows what to do’, ‘It’s a mothers instinct’, ‘It won’t be you!’
So much chatter, I never heard the whispering voice of loss parents ‘It does happen, and it could be you.’
So how do you go on once you become that person? Once you are no longer naïve and carefree? How do you go about living through the unimaginable? Effort. Lots, and lots of effort. Especially in the beginning, we need all of our effort just to exist day-to-day. Sometimes you can do things, but others watching TV takes too much and even that is too hard.
So for other loss parents my advice is the same as everyone else’s – be kind to yourself. You’ll understand what it means soon enough if you don’t already.
And for family and friends my advice is this – be kind to them. Help them, by letting them exist and only exist. Don’t push too much, don’t expect them to move on, don’t even expect them to always move forwards. We don’t always move in the linear progression others expect of us, sometimes we are stagnant and sometimes we move ‘backwards’. This is okay. This is normal. Just support them, wherever they are at that exact moment.
And just remember, it’s okay to simply exist for now.
Guest post by Bethany Hallam