The Rollercoaster You Can’t Get Off
I think it was Ronan Keating who said ‘life is a rollercoaster you just got to ride it.’ Correct Ronan, this is one rollercoaster we hate though, one that makes us feel sick but we keep on going back for more. And I was never a Boyzone fan, I find them irritating and nasally with the wrong elements of cheese thrown in, I’m definitely more of a Take That girl.
Dealing with baby loss is probably one of the hardest cards a person can be dealt in life, it is certainly every parent’s worst nightmare. We have been handed more than most people will experience in their whole lifetime and we have to find a way to cope but it seems so impossible at times. Having a child die goes against the natural order of how things should go, it defies the natural cycle of life. We expect to say goodbye to our parents one day, we expect that we might become ill one day and unfortunately lose people we love along the way, but we never expect that the people we lose and have to say goodbye to will be our children. That just isn’t how life is supposed to go.
No parent should ever have to arrange a funeral for their child and see the tiny white coffin at the front of the chapel. I still remember Billy’s funeral so vividly, I can close my eyes and feel like I am back there sat in the hearse with his coffin on our laps. Feeling dizzy and sick, my heart pounding through my chest, desperately clutching onto the coffin whilst reading the name plaque over and over again; Billy Elcock, Born 29 August with a little teddy bear engraved next to his name. Our son, so many hopes and dreams planned for him that he will never get to live out.
The death of your baby is scarring and something that you soon realise you will never get over, instead you will learn to live with the loss. My husband summed it up rather eloquently recently on one of our long walks, he said that the death of your child is like having an injury that cannot ever be healed. A leg injury where you can have repeated surgeries to try to improve the condition but you will always walk with a limp and it will always hurt but you will just get used to the pain and learn to live with it. So wise Mr Protein!
Billy’s death will always hurt and cause us pain and we both realise we can never fully heal or get over this. Sometimes I think I forget the gravity of what we are dealing with, on the good days when I feel like my old self again, being silly, dancing around my kitchen whilst making dinner listening to Groove Is In the Heart like I am actually Lady Miss Kier whilst my dogs look really confused and Mr Protein just ignores it as he is fully immune to it. Then other days I am weighed down with sadness and anger and relive that horrendous day over and over again in my mind and it all comes crashing back down and I realise how big a mountain we really have to climb.
As the months go by and the lighter moments start to creep in, you think you are turning corners, and you are, you really are. But you will always go back a step and be hit with a crashing wave of grief that knocks you off your feet. It is true that grief comes in waves, and you learn how to navigate and process them as they become more familiar. In the early days, it is so up and down. The grief so raw and very real and you are a novice in dealing with baby loss and do not know how to cope.
You become an expert in riding grief because what else can you do? You learn to understand the triggers, to spot when you are due a meltdown. You start to learn that you haven’t actually taken two steps forward and three steps back at all like you thought, it is all part of riding out the grief waves and learning to live with the loss of your baby. You are always moving forwards and learning how to navigate the new reality of motherhood that you have found yourself in. Something that you could never plan for and was so unprecedented.
You know that you cannot make plans too far in the future because a bad day will be around the corner. You know that the crushing weight you feel on your chest will soon reappear, but you also learn to embrace those happy days where you laugh and have fun. Ride the rollercoaster and take the good days and be thankful for them. Mom guilt is a very real concept and you will feel it all the time, you will feel guilty for dancing like an idiot in the kitchen, how can you be so happy when your baby died? But of course there is no reason to feel guilt for still being you. Your baby would never want you to spend the rest of your life miserable and letting everyone else have all the fun.
It is true, we must learn to live with this crushing blow we have been dealt and the pain is never going to go away. We will always miss our children, there will always be a part of our family missing now, someone who can never be replaced who should just be here with us. The hurt that Billy died cannot ever disappear, for as long as I live I will wish so hard that he was here.
There will be triggers down the line that will be impossible to bear, the rollercoaster taking another dip. But I hope there will be happiness too, when the rollercoaster is more enjoyable. This is a rollercoaster that will always make me feel sick though and I will wish forever that I didn’t have a lifetime membership to the worst theme park in the world.
Lots of love