We are a community of wounded parents who have a deep respect and understanding for each other. We walk side by side. We stand together united, bonded by an unconditional love for our children who have died. And yet despite this major similarity, we are such a diverse group of individuals. We all have varied belief systems. We all come from different places and we all live different lives. As a community, we speak loudly about our children and what a wonderful thing that is. Something that we do not speak boldly about though, is our differences, the things that make us unique from one another. I am not sure why that is. Maybe it is because we are fearful of showing the other parts of our selves. Maybe we worry about offending others who are hurting.
The truth is that I feel as though I do not fit in anywhere anymore because I am too different. Nothing seems to fit me perfectly. I really don’t know what I believe in anymore, and I am almost comfortable with that, because it is exciting. My heart is cracked wide open and even though I have healed it with salt water and filled it with sugar and honey, it is empty, waiting for something new.
When I used to open my eyes in the morning, the first thing I would think about, was him. He would consume my thoughts throughout my day and he would be in my last thoughts each night as I laid my head down to sleep. Now he isn’t my first thought every morning and sometimes he isn’t even my last either. In January, it will be 7 years since I last held his tiny, lifeless body. I have written and spoken about Christian for the last 6 years. I have written so much about him that I have planted his story into the ground. It is now rooted in the Earth, intertwined amongst the trees. The Earth knows his story, he will not be forgotten now. He will be remembered even long after I become ash, myself. I can breathe a sigh of relief.
I forgot who I was before he died. That was a previous lifetime. When I finally did remember who I was, I decided that I didn’t even like that person and so I started my life over again and wove myself a new story. A story of love, sunsets, broken hearts, giving, receiving, rituals, yearning, art and open wounds. I have shared my heart with thousands of others who have experienced similar heart aches. But this is no longer a journey of my healing after loss. It is my walk in this life. It is a twisted mess of so many experiences and emotions. I am sure you understand what I mean. I feel very honoured to be able to grow older each day.
I gave my son to the waves of Mullaloo Beach. I buried him with a friend in Melbourne. I sprinkled him into the sea in California and I let him go into the falls of John Forrest National Park. Recently as I was I gazing upon all the luminous colours of the sunset I heard the words “He is here with us”. But who is us? My relatives and ancestors? The other babies? God and His Angels? The Universe? An imaginary voice? I don’t know. It was at that point that I felt I need to look deeper into my life now. I want to explore other things. Read more. Learn more. Grow more. Be more. Experience more.
“Let me go now, Mama” I hear that voice daily. I am trying to abide. It is hard.
I don’t belong on the grief forums, because I am not grief-stricken anymore. I don’t belong at support group meetings, because I don’t need the help that I once did. Maybe I am just what the textbooks describe as healed. I don’t feel that I fit in with our community very well because I don’t believe my son is an angel and I don’t use the term “rainbow baby” (anymore). Maybe I would feel better about the term if everyone was guaranteed to have a subsequent healthy baby. I think of all my friends who are unable to conceive another child and I wonder if that word brings salt to their wounds, it is the main reason why I have chosen now not to use it. Not everyone gets a pot of gold. And that is the cruelest reality to live with. In these last few sentences I have probably isolated myself even more from the community that has only ever showed me love and support. The only people who have given me a space, a platform even, to grieve out loud. But I have to be honest. If I cannot be honest in my writing, that just makes me a fraud. I do know that the term “angel” is more than often used for comforting reasons or as a term of endearment – I understand that. Having a dead child is too cruel. I know. And please, do not feel that you have to justify why you use that word, you don’t have to. I get it. I really do. For me personally I have to call my son a baby, because that is what he was. I don’t find it harsh. I don’t even find it ugly to say that he was a baby who died. We each have the right to use whichever language we choose and of course if this term works for you, I am not asking you to stop and I am certainly not saying you are wrong because there is no right or wrong here, there are just different opinions. And different opinions are okay. I am just saying this out loud because I feel drawn to speak about the subject. Some of my closest friends refer to their children as “angels” and “rainbows”. What I am trying to say here, and I am truly coming from a place of peace, respect and understanding, is that so often, I see people upset at loved ones because they made the “God must have needed another angel” comment to them. Those words even hurt some people who do believe in God. The truth is that society learns from the language that we ourselves use to describe our children and if the greater community refers to the babies that die as “angels” then that is what they will be labelled as. For me when I here someone refer to my son as an angel, all of a sudden his loss is lessened because he is no longer human being but a celestial being that some people treat as “make-believe”. When you take the reality away, it is no longer real. And so this is why I believe that language in this community is very important when it comes to breaking the silence. I do not refer to myself as an angel mother. I am a bereaved mother. I didn’t have a “pregnancy loss”, my baby died. I didn’t have a “stillborn”, my son was stillborn. There are so many amazing people in this community, working together to break the silence surrounding the death of babies and we are all doing a beautiful job. I just feel that we may want to look a little deeper into the language that we use because we are not raising the awareness about the loss of angels. We are raising awareness about the death of babies – the youngest and most innocent of human beings. I feel we so often speak beautiful lies because we are too frightened to speak about our honest situations, fears and disappointments, because yes, you are right, it does hurt. We sugarcoat our stories, because they are too cruel to be true. I get it, I have lived it.
I am not writing this to attack anyone or make people feel small and the last purpose of my article is to cause hurt. I know some people may skim over this article and react or be offended before they actually truly read what I am trying to say. I accept that my words will be misunderstood or just plain hated. I know I will never please everybody. But at least you know I am not writing to be popular. I know people will hit the unlike button on my facebook page, and I am okay with that. I am simply voicing a few of my differences today.
My heart doesn’t ache very often. I mostly, feel good. And so I am searching for more than just healing now. I want to dig deeper and grow as a woman, wife and mother. I want to explore the most wondrous parts of my inquiring and curious heart and I want to find others who feel the same as I do. Surely I cannot be the only one who feels as though they don’t fit in anymore. Now, I am looking for more than signs. I want to talk about the times when there are no signs at all and how that makes us feel. I want to talk about deafening silence that occurs when you whisper out into the night “Are you there?”. I desire to hear more from the mothers and fathers who do not believe in an afterlife. How do they cope? How do they heal? I want to learn about their journey in this walk of grief and life, because that is unknown to me. I need to talk to those who struggle with their faith. I want to speak to those who cannot live without God and those who never believed in the first place. I wish to learn more about our differences and who we are aside from the losses that define us. Whether we like it or not we are defined by our losses just as we are defined by all the other experiences in our lives. I want people to feel that they have a platform here in this community where they feel they can speak and write about their differences without fear of hate and judgement. I yearn to learn about why people believe they are here on this Earth. I want to speak about how we discover our life purposes and missions. I am just looking to have more deeper conversations that go further than “I miss my baby”.
This is an unforgiving, tragic and horrible world that we live in and yet we keep on going because each and every day we are inspired by humanity and our ability to overcome the cruelest of situations. We are blown away by the simplest random acts of kindness and compassion that others show toward us. Every single person that comes into my life teaches me something and I am grateful for that. My heart is opened wide. I am here to learn and discover. I want to be irrevocably changed all over again. I stand here alone in a crowd of thousands who are all marching together in the same direction. I am stopping for a minute, holding up my hand and asking “Does anyone else feel the same as I do?” “Would anyone else like to go deeper into the woods with me?”