Grief Lasts Longer Than Sympathy
I heard this quote recently and it really resonated with me. Not in an angry or bitter way, but it just struck me how whilst those around you get on with their lives, yours has changed forever and beginning to piece yourself back together is really bloody hard.
I think this is why so many of us who have suffered the death of a baby form digital friendships with other members of the baby loss community. The people who truly understand that the agony and grief of a baby dying isn’t something that can be fixed in a couple of months. In fact, it is probably something that never really fully heals.
I am pretty fortunate to have a very loving and supportive group of people around me but I do still sometimes feel locked in a tight bubble of my own feelings, a lonely isolating bubble that I can’t seem to pop. I can’t imagine how people who aren’t surrounded by love and support must feel.
You find that for the first month you are propped up by constant love and support, endless messages and offers of “if there is anything I can do” etc. But this inevitably begins to dwindle and eventually you are left to try and piece your shattered life back together in a task that is so seemingly impossible that even Einstein wouldn’t have the answer.
I am just so grateful to the people who have truly been there for us, they know who they are. Family and friends who I will never really truly be able to repay in how they have supported us.
There are things I could say in this post that I won’t, not for fear of offending or hurting the feelings of people who I feel have not been all that great (understatement of the year - they have been really unforgivably shit if I am completely honest); just because I don’t want to evoke drama or actually give them any air time on my blog as they simply don’t deserve it. Instead I focus on the incredible people that have been continuously there for us and whose support runs long into these ongoing months of baby loss, not the people whose behaviour has shocked and disgusted me. Anyway, rant over; but I have found it quite shocking how people can behave at a time when you need them the most. I know I am not alone here.
From speaking to my new mama friends, I know that it is so much more common than it should be. People seem to forget that grief does not heal in a few weeks. There are so many milestones that will occur that will knock the wind from your sails for a long time to come.
From the days when you just need to get out of the house and bump into the smug new mums, pushing their smug new babies, in their smug new prams (pretty sure no one is actually smug tbf), to reaching your due date, adverts for baby shit because of those damn cookies, the date you found out you were pregnant, to the first scan pictures popping up in your memories on social media. Let alone the actual anniversary of the death of your baby, a date that should be a first birthday party instead becomes an anniversary of the worst day of your life. These things really knock you for six and can trigger grief setbacks.
You know you have to try and get back to normal, correction, to your new normal, whatever that is. But it is bloody hard. And part of me just wants to stay tucked away in my Billy bubble hiding from real life. I know this isn’t an option though. I need to go back to work at some point. How the hell do you go back to work knowing that you should be at home with your baby? Some people say that the distraction of work is a positive thing, others say it is the straw that breaks the camel’s back and it is all too much. I have decided to take my full maternity allowance for this reason, give myself time to heal and really process what has happened without putting myself under any unnecessary pressure that I don’t have to. There is a reason why a mother whose baby dies is entitled to her full maternity period and as so many people pointed out to me, there is no prize for returning to work earlier than you are expected to.
Life will never really be the same ever again. Grief lasts longer than those first milestones, it lasts longer than the loving messages you receive from people and it certainly lasts longer than the time it takes in which you have to return to “normal”.
I see so many people writing “people don’t ask how we’re doing anymore” or “people have forgotten about my baby”. The reality is that although they might not ask how you’re coping later down the line, they do still care and you are still in their thoughts. And I very much doubt that anyone is ever going to forget our precious little babies and the tragic way in which we lost them.
It is just that whilst your life is completely turned upside down, shattered into a thousand pieces and most days are a struggle, those around you can get on with their life in a way that you will struggle to. It doesn’t mean they don’t care, it is just quite simply that their life returns to normal and yours will never quite be normal again.
I think we all seem to lose a couple of people from our lives in the aftermath of baby loss, that seems to be fairly common. Tragic events such as the death of a baby really shine a light on people’s true characters and easily identify those people who aren’t worth having in your life. Someone said to me recently, “if someone can treat you like shit and behave badly towards you, even at a time like this, when you are rocked by inexplicable grief, even then if they can’t be a decent human being and just can’t help themselves, they never will be able to and your life is better off without them.” We should send this person over to America and get them to be President and then send them back to the UK to sort out Brexit. A word from the wise right there. I would have far less eloquently said ‘Bye Felicia’, or in fact ‘go fuck right off Felicia!’
It is true that grieving for your baby takes a long time and I don’t think this is something we are ever going to fully heal from. I just want to do Billy proud and am focusing on people who enrich our lives, the ones who have been there fully for us from the start and long into these later months of grief and just forget those that have let us down. I really want to get me and Mr Protein back to a good place. I want to get past those days where I wake up and think ‘why is this my life? I hate it.’’ Why isn’t my son here, it’s not fair.’ I long for the time when I can go a whole week without having a soap opera worthy meltdown. But for now I just need to let them come, fuck knows what I will do if one happens when I am back at work. Mega awks. But I will just have to cross that bridge when I come to it.
I know I am making progress though, because the mega meltdowns are becoming less frequent and the lighter moments and the laughter are becoming more frequent. I am grateful that myself and Mr P have a great sense of humour, that we can laugh at ourselves and still make jokes, this has helped us greatly in dealing with this. Our nearest and dearest are cut from the same cloth too and a couple in particular have really lifted our spirits during our darkest moments (I won’t name the bestie who 3 days after Billy died sent me a picture of her highly inflamed lips when she may or may not have been experimenting with lip fillers but that was the first time I laughed at a time when I never thought I would laugh again). Duck lips you have been my rock and I love you!
There is ongoing support available in the ears of the baby loss community but if you are still struggling there are Sands support groups every month, counselling and all sorts of additional support outlets available to you when you feel stuck in a little grief bubble. Reach out and don’t do this alone. I am on a referral list for counselling, something I would never have thought I would be up for trying, but I have a try anything once philosophy in life in general and especially in dealing with these uncharted waters of grief.
I hope you’re having a gentle week.
Love Hannah x