This is one of the posts I started writing a few days ago when I was having a bit of an emotional moment thinking about my little boy, missing him so badly, my heart just feeling completely broken. I came across this article which was written back in July by a woman named Samantha Hayward who also lost a baby, a little girl named Ella. The full article is here: http://www.mamamia.com.au/parenting/ten-points-i-wish-every-person-knew-about-the-death-of-a-child/ but the part of the article that really resonated with me was the ’10 things she wishes every person knew about the death of a child’ that she wrote about (well all of them apart from the ones regarding her living children as obviously that doesn’t apply in my case).
Here are some of the points she wrote and I wish so much I could be writing this as a letter or email and sending it to my nearest and dearest rather than writing them here on my blog. Why can’t I send it to those closest to me? I really don’t know. Fear of something, but I can’t put my finger on what…
Anyway – here are some of the things I wish I could say taken from Samantha’s article:
Let’s start with her first paragraph:
“The soul destroying agony of your child dying is only truly known and understood by those who have endured it. Four years on, (six for me) I still glance down at my daughters grave in disbelief. Visiting my child’s grave is surreal. It’s almost like I’ve vacated my body and I’m watching someone I don’t know standing there putting flowers down.
Is this really my life ?”
(I wonder that a lot as well – this is my little angel’s headstone)
My little angel’s headstone
1. Four years on I get up every day with the exact same sadness I had the day Ella died.The only difference is I’m more skilled at hiding it and I’m much more used to the agony of my broken heart. The shock has somewhat lessened, but I do still find myself thinking I can’t believe this happened. I thought that only happened to other people. You asked how I was in the beginning yet you stopped, why? Where did you get the information on what week or month was good to stop asking?
Note: This is so completely true. In my case, six years (almost seven) I get up each day with the exact same sadness as when my little boy went to Heaven. But in a way I think I will always feel this way and I sort of hope that I always do, no matter how painful it may be. I would hate to think that there will ever be a day that could pass where I don’t think about my precious little prince. Maybe that’s why the grieving process takes so long, because we are terrified if we allow ourselves to fully grieve that somehow we will forget our angels and that thought is scarier than the thought of spending the rest of my life grieving for him. But the line of being ‘more skilled at hiding it’ – she hit the nail on the head there. That’s all that does happen, you hide your pain better (from others) but learn somehow to keep it to yourself. Why? Keep on reading and you’ll find out. People change towards you when you lose a baby/child in ways you would never believe.
2. Please don’t tell me that all you want is for me to be happy again. Nobody wants that more than I do, but it’s something that can only be achieved with time. On top of that, I have to find a new happiness. The happiness I once felt, that carefree feeling, will never return in its entirety. It also helps to have the patience and understanding from loved ones.
Note: I have completely lost the ability to feel happiness at the moment. When I have a brief moment of feeling happy I’m instantly hit with the guilt train in my own head. How dare I be happy when my little boy is not here?! It may be almost seven years but I’m still trying to walk the road to finding a level of happiness that I can live with, without having the guilt for feeling happy added in. I hope one day that time will come, but right now I’m still not there yet. I wish my friends and family could somehow understand that.
3. Please don’t say ‘I want the old Sam back!’ Or, I can see the old Sam coming back! Sam’s not coming back. This is who I am now. If you only knew the horror I witnessed and endured you would know it’s not humanly possible for me to ever be the same person again. Losing a child changes who you are. I’ve been told my eyes look haunted.
It’s a strange thing for someone to tell a grieving mother, but it’s true – I am haunted. My views on the world have changed, things that were once important are not now and vice versa. I feel as though you’re telling me two things here. Firstly you don’t like the person I am and, secondly if the old Sam’s not coming back I’m out of here. By the way there is nobody that misses the “old Sam” more than me!!! I’m mourning two deaths here; my daughter’s and my former self.
Note: I have lost count of the amount of times people have said they want the old me back or think they see the ‘old me’ coming back… the ‘old me’ will never come back… I’m a completely new person because of my experiences. If you think it’s hard for you seeing me as a different person now take a moment to think how hard it is for me. This is my life now, this is my reality. I can’t just switch it on and off, it’s here permanently, 24/7, always. And I need to live this life… forever.
4. If you chose to acknowledge my daughter’s birthday or the anniversary of her death on the first year, it’s terribly gut wrenching when you didn’t bother to acknowledge the second or third or fourth. Do you think any subsequent birthday or anniversary is not as sad for me? It also says to me in very big neon lights that you’ve moved on and forgotten about my daughter.
Note: On the first year after losing my little boy my fiancé at the time, my little mans Daddy gave me a Mother’s Day card from my angel. Yes it made me cry but it also meant so much to me. The second year he did the same. I also got him a Father’s Day card the first two years. Then on the third year our relationship was seriously rocky and it wasn’t long til we split up for good but during that rocky period I still got a Father’s Day card for him and posted it through his door. Not with my name on it anywhere, just our little angel’s. That year he phoned me angrily and told me not to bother ever getting him a card again and it was time for me to “get over it”. It broke my heart hearing those words. I could deal with him not wanting me any more, I could just about accept he’d cheated on me and our relationship was over, but to say he never wanted to be acknowledged again as our baby’s father – that hurt right to my core. Even now when he makes contact with me at the start of every February to ask if I want to go with him to the cemetery on the little man’s anniversary I think of that moment and feel utter hatred towards him. I’ll never forget the day he said those words to me and will probably always hate him for saying them. It hurts a lot that nobody gets me a Mother’s Day card any more. I might not have my angel here but I was still a Mummy :’(
5. I did notice. To the friends and family that found the entire death and dealing with my sadness all too hard and held secret events behind my back that were lied about, stopped inviting me to things I had always been included in and slowly ended our relationship thinking I didn’t notice.
I did notice. The only reason why I never said anything is because I’m not wasting my words on your shameful behaviour. I am thankful for something though – I didn’t waste any more time on people that were capable of such shallowness and cruelty. Please don’t fear. I would be the first one by your side if the same thing happened to you. That should give you some indication of how horrible it is.
Note: Yep… and they still do it now…
6. Grieving for a child lasts until you see them again. It’s a lifetime. If you’re wondering how long your friend or family member might be grieving for, the answer is forever. Don’t rush them, don’t trivialise their sadness, don’t make them feel guilty for being sad and when they talk to you, open your ears and listen, really listen to what they’re telling you. It’s possible you’ll learn something. Don’t be so cruel as to give up on them remember it’s not about you it’s about them.
I’ve been left repeatedly heart broken as friends that I truly loved and never thought would walk away from me tossed me into the ‘too hard’ basket or – more hurtfully – the crazy basket. Phone calls stopped, text messages stopped, comments on Facebook stopped and I get the same thing every time. “Sorry darling I’m just flat out”, “Let’s catch up soon” and “I miss you.” The list could keep going but I get it. I’m not the type of person either that is going to pursue a friendship I know the other person doesn’t want. Everyone has a conscience and thankfully I don’t have to live with theirs.
Note: I read this and just nod my head with a sad expression on my face and a lump in my throat… she’s right, this is the reality of it, I’ve lost a hell of a lot of friends since losing my precious baby… I know people who have the attitude of ‘they just don’t know what to say’ – and maybe if *I* had the strength to share this post with them then they would. I guess I’ve at least had the strength to share it with you guys… maybe one day I’ll try to get those in my ‘real life’ to try to understand as well.