Life after the loss of a child
It is hard to describe what it feels like, loosing a child. Sitting down and actually thinking about it all over again certainly isn’t one of my favourite things to do because yes it is still painful, no matter how many years go by. But I want to write this post, hoping that anyone who may be going through the same ordeal may find some comfort. Probably all of the horrible things you are feeling right now other bereaved parents have felt as well. The pain isn’t just superficial but it is an actual physical one. You learn what heartache really feels like as you actually get to experience it for the first time. You never really get over it, how can you? You cannot undo or un-love a child just because they are no longer with you. Since then having my son restored my faith and created a sense of peace and serenity that had left me for a while after my daughter’s death. Having Leo didn’t make the pain go away but it made me come to terms and accept what had happened with our daughter passing. Accepting that loss takes a long time but it is essential for one to continue living and building relations and new experiences. I don’t like the term moving on. How can anyone move on after the death of a child? You don’t really. Yes you get on with life but that doesn’t mean forgetting or letting go!
Right after our daughter died, in the first few days and weeks things were particularly hard. Men and woman grieve differently I soon learned, but they both grieve. I had never seen my husband so vulnerable before and it made me realise just how much love he had for our daughter. He had always been this strong, optimistic, positive guy, no matter what but this was nothing like anything we had ever experienced before and it crushed him. We constantly felt the need to be together and in close proximity of each other, holding on to the only thing that felt secure. We of course stopped working and took time off. My parents even organised a week away in the country where we would just take walks, and in all honesty, we walked and cried and held on to each other. So the first few days feel like you are not actually living amongst others but rather existing in a subordinate world, separate from that of others going on their everyday rituals. Even the most simple of things seem hard, eating is no longer a priority and there is lack of sleep or too much of it. You just want to forget, to shut it out, but it is not that simple. You wonder if ever you will be able to smile again or feel genuine happiness. The good news is that you can and you will! God has truly equipped us well. We are able to lift ourselves up and rebuild ourselves from shambles. But it takes time.
You look at people going on with their daily lives and it’s like you are living in a parallel universe detached from everything and everyone around you. What I found particularly difficult were women with their new-borns. You can’t help noticing them and they are suddenly everywhere. Anywhere you look every time you are out there are women with strollers and prams and families playing with their children and you can’t help but feel sorry for yourself. Also difficult is accepting the changes in your body post partum, like the extra weight or your caesarean scar or engorged breasts from access milk that hasn’t been drawn out because there is no baby drinking it and you cannot be bothered with pumping it out because the world is still a very dark place at that stage. I desperately wanted to know if there was anyone out there who was feeling what I was feeling so I searched online for parents who lost their children and read each story even though I couldn’t stop sobbing. I used to take out all of the clothes I had prepared for the baby, that were never worn (children in NPICU temperature controlled incubators don’t wear clothes). I used to take them out, reorder them and have a good cry.
Then you pray to God to heal your heart and to take you out of your misery somehow and days go by, weeks then months and things really do start changing. You won’t forget but you will rebuild and have new positive experiences that will make life worthwhile and your passion to live through it stronger. You will laugh again, enjoy your hobbies again and be able to concentrate and get back to work. I credit this also to a strong support system I have found in my family who respected my grief and walked me trough it even though they were in as much pain as I was. Now I love mentioning my daughter, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of her in one way or another. I love to think of those beautiful memories I hold on to, ones we made in her short but meaningful life. Life in time really does somehow go back to normal. You are changed but you are still able to live a full and beautiful life despite the loss of your precious child. Grieving is a different process for everyone and it may take time, but once you can peacefully accept your loss you may come to terms and build a solid present and future.