A message to the older baby loss mama’s
So a few months ago now your baby died. I promise, it’s taken me months… years, to be able to write that sentence without a flood of tears running down my face. By now you’re feeling pretty disillusioned. The initial hysteria, the heart breaking pain, the feeling that if your heart tries to beat even one more time you really might stop breathing – all of that has eased off. You probably never dreamed it would happen. Surely, this agony will last forever. How can you smile again?
Right where the crippling grief left off, is where the disillusionment starts. The indignity that the world doesn’t mourn your terrible loss, that the loss of your child isn’t enough to have the planet spinning off it’s axes is a bitter pill to swallow. People begin to put time limits on you. Whispers of ‘when will you go back to work’, ‘when will you stop signing their name on the cards you send out, for birthdays, anniversaries, Easter, Christmas… ” Some days you will wonder who they want you to ‘move on’ for more – yourself, or for them. So they don’t have to invest the emotional energy in you any more. It’s easier for them if you can go back to being your old self.
But the old self is gone. Not only did your child die, but your entire self has died too. No longer can you listen to people complaining about the mundane, the boring, the just not important. Nobody has problems as big as yours, no loss is as great. Right now you are sitting in that place of alive, but not living. Sure, you get through the days. You might even be having days now where you don’t cry. You might wake up and forget for a few blissful hours that you joined that club, that people look at you differently now.
Oh and the looks. Being the ‘one that lost the baby’ is it’s own fresh hell. By now some of your most trusted friends are falling away. They can’t handle the emotional investment you need right now, but in their place are new friends. You’re meeting new people, you’re forming groups, you are surrounding yourself with those who can drag you out and lift you up, when you just don’t think you can summon the energy to lay and cry, for another moment.
Some tasks are insurmountable. Be kind to yourself – the nursery can wait. If you have to close the door, if you have to move house, it’s ok to do that. Tangible reminders of your pain, of your deepest loss, of your most intimate hurt can be saved, but hidden. Likewise if you have your entire house as a shrine – you grieve how you need to. Do not let the time ticking by force you into a closure you are not ready for. Time, peace and time will help. But as yet, not nearly enough time has passed by.
Girl, be aware. Be aware that you might be hiding. You might be saying yes to that extra glass of wine after dinner, holding on to that prescription of sleeping tablets a little tighter than is safe. Get your medical team on your side. They fought for you, for your baby. Let them fight for you again. You are allowed to feel as terrible, as awful, as sad and despondent as you need to feel. You are allowed to feel happy, you are allowed to laugh, to live joyously. You can remember with a smile on your face, and tears in your eyes. But don’t block out your quiet inner voice, the voice that whispers to you to just slow. Slow down the wine. Listen a little closer to the pain inside you. The greatest tragedy of losing a child and surviving the initial nightmare would be to lose someone as fierce, someone as strong and brave and lovely as you to to that desperate longing, months down the track. You never have to be the old you. But don’t be the synthetic version of you – your legacy and that of your child live on in you.
When it feels like the world has forgotten you, forgotten your great loss someone will step up. You will get a card in the mail. Someone will send you a message, leave a flower at your door, or ring you up. Longing for these personal touches, the reminder that someone out there is thinking of you, of your baby doesn’t mean you’re looking for attention. It doens’t mean that you want people to keep looking at you with pity in their eyes, but rather that someone living, has taken the time to remember you, for no other reason than that they care. They still care.
As time passes things start to dull. The level of emotion starts to fade, but other things start to hurt more. Be brave, dear girl. You will make it out the other side. And on the other side is a life of beauty, of changed perspective and a life that is there for you to grab and run with. Your walk has led you where no person on earth would wish to travel, but you have learnt grace, courage and resilience on your detour. Hold your head up high – you have become the mother of an angel, and for that you deserve all the beauty and peace our world has to offer. In time, it will be yours.