Dear newly grieving self: If I could tell myself anything during the early days, it would be to look after yourself.
When your child dies you’re reborn into a whole new world; it is difficult to focus on much.
The days, weeks, months that follow should be about you: discovering who you are, what you’ll become.
Learning to not only love but also bond with a baby you don’t get to keep is a different kind of love to the one you expect. It is a lot more overwhelming.
The love is for someone you don’t know, who you don’t get to know, but you’re left to teach the world about that person, who has never spoken a word or laughed at silly things and, at times, never met anyone apart from their family.
Remember your grief is yours—it is individual.
Many people will tell you what they feel is right or wrong when grieving the loss of a little one.
Truth be told, there really isn’t a right or a wrong way; just be comfortable and don’t rush.
For quite a while, I felt guilty for having other children, for not having a shelf for my child, for not visiting her every day—so much guilt.
Having the older children has helped us, not just by getting up each day, but teaching us how things probably should be, like ignoring the taboo.
My children have no idea about the baby loss taboo; they’ll talk about her when they wish and not speak if they don’t want to. I’m hoping I’ve taught them enough to be the generation who make the taboo extinct.
We tried hard to be as open with them as possible; there was never any question about hiding her away.
I have beaten myself up time and time again for not having a shelf or a space to put her things, people who had lost babies after me, had special corners, shelves etc for their babies, I didn’t.
There is no real explanation, I just didn’t.
I caved after feeling I simply HAD to do it. Now it is up in our living room. I don’t like it. I don’t feel particularly connected to it.
But I can’t bring it down, at least not yet. We may relocate it instead.
I found the unspoken pressure to do what other parents have done exacerbates the guilty feeling.
I don’t visit her because, in the beginning, I had terrible nightmares, nightmares you don’t need to hear about.
But if you’re a bereaved parent, you’ll already know.
We were judged for taking the children, judged for visiting too much—people had a lot to say. Too many people judge.
I can honestly say if you have the strength to not listen, do it.
You’re making your way through something unimaginable. There’s no rush or timescale on how you’ll feel.
People say the first year is the hardest, making it an assumption that all will be over once that year hits.
I found year two harder. I’m coming up to seven years.
Each year and each milestone has its own challenges.
Take every single day as it comes.
One step forward four steps back is no reflection on you. Your child died.
You are allowed down spells without feeling guilty.
You can have complete highs, laughing until your face hurts.
As hard as it is don’t feel guilty.
They will make up your story.
They light up your path, even when it’s covered in shade.
Be gentle with yourself.
You will get through this.
You are doing okay.
Photo Credit: Canva
I live in the UK, Mum to five children, one of whom could only stay for five weeks. Since her death, I have found a passion through writing to make sure nobody feels as alone as we did. I’m open and honest, that helps me to release the love I have for a girl who couldn’t stay.