Guest post: Thoughts of loss and hope at Christmas

I was pacing the landing with my teething baby at 3am last night and all I could think of was you. As anyone who has been bereaved knows, the build up to Christmas is never easy. If you have children you try to retain the excitement, the magic, the wonder of Christmas. Yet behind the smiles, lies an anxiety, a dread, a hollow feeling in the pit of your stomach that represents the gaping void left by loss. This Boxing Day marks 20 years since you were cruelly snatched from us that bitterly cold morning. Twenty years! The same length of time that you were married to my mum. I was 14, you were just 45. 

When you experience a traumatic bereavement, whether as a child losing a parent or a parent losing a child, your world is irreversibly changed. The wounds are deep and the scars only partially heal. I was reminded of this only three months ago when we experienced two close family bereavements and the scars were reopened. Old memories were reignited and the full force of raw emotion came crashing down once again. 

Yet there is also the possibility for reflection and growth, heightened empathy and compassion, and a greater understanding of the fragility and precious nature of life.

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Guest post: Born sleeping – 10 years of missing Amy

I’m sharing this post on behalf of a lovely friend, Louise, who lost her first child, Amy, 10 years ago. Louise has offered me much emotional support since my own loss and I have been inspired by her strength. Please read and appreciate the years of love and loss in these words and images.

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Thursday, 17th March 2016, marks the 10th anniversary of the death and birth of our daughter, Amy. She was stillborn at 39 weeks, following a textbook pregnancy, and with no logical explanation.

Having happily carried her for nine months, to then endure labour and birth knowing there would be no positive outcome is certainly the hardest thing I have ever experienced and I truly hope never to surpass it. I know, my husband, Jason feels similarly about having to helplessly watch it happen.

It took me a long time to begin to face my grief, but even in my darkest days I started to write about it. This poem took me years to complete (and I am still editing it as I re-read it!) but I thought, a decade on, I might dare to share it.

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Losing Amy

“It’s not there, sweetie”.
Those words I’ll never forget.
The words of a consultant,
Searching for a heartbeat,
So strong for nine whole months,
That now had ceased to be.

Disbelief so whole,
And pain so numbing.
We held onto each other, as our world collapsed.
To leave that room was to accept it.
I couldn’t move.
I kept repeating, “NO!”

I had felt so joyful,
As I nurtured our first child within.
I had taken great care,
And yet our daughter, Amy,
Our little ‘Bean’,
Was born sleeping.

Although so cold,
Her skin was soft,
As it should have been.
We caressed her face, her perfect hands,
And took our birth day photographs
Of our precious girl.

I felt broken.
So sad and lost.
I gave birth to her
And yet I didn’t feel like a mother.
I treasured the memory of her kicks.
Poor Daddy had nothing to remember.

Three years passed and, despite two beautiful sons,
I was feeling desperate.
I had confined Amy’s photographs to a box
my grief alongside them.
But now the lid was about to blow.
I was losing control.

I reached out for help
And someone grabbed my hand.
Rachel. A bereavement counsellor.
A rock to cling to in the whirlpool of grief.
She helped me find my way out of the dark
And I am so thankful.

Ten years on and my grief persists.
Sometimes it washes over me like a wave.
Occasionally, it still bends me double with its force.
But I don’t attempt to control it now.
I accept it has a place in my life
And our darling Amy, a place in my heart.

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We sadly know we are not alone in our experience and were thankful for the support given by SANDS (the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death charity). Their work provides an essential resource to grieving parents, so if you would like to donate in Amy’s or any other baby’s memory they would welcome any support. Please click this link https://www.uk-sands.org/donate Thank you. x

Guest post: Returning to dust

My Great Loves is a blog I came across on WordPress Reader. This military wife and mother lost her darling first born son, ‘Gift’, age 12 in a tragic accident. She blogs anonymously about her ‘loves’ – her husband and children, her grief and family life. I have been moved by her touching honesty and the way she blogs about how her faith has been her strength. I find her faith inspiring and she kindly agreed to write something for me about how death is not the end.

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Guest post: Forever 12

This guest post was written by my friend Sarah, whose son was in the same school and year as Abi. As her son turned 13 this weekend, Sarah reflects in this moving and inspiring post on what it is to be forever 12.When my eldest reached the milestone of his teenage years last week, it was a chance for me to reflect – on his life so far and on his life still to come – his journey through GCSEs, A Levels and girlfriends to adulthood. But it was also a chance for me to reflect on my friend Kelly, who blogs at Chasing Dragonflies, and her daughter Abi.

Because Abi will be forever 12.

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Guest post: The ways my heart is broken

I met (on Twitter) a remarkable woman who tragically lost her darling son Hugo in March this year. He was born at just 24 weeks and lived 35 days. I gave birth to my son on 24th February, just four days after Leigh had Hugo, and her story really struck me and again reminded me how fragile life is. Leigh is a woman after my own heart, she wants to break the taboo surrounding baby loss and ‘start a conversation’ about it. Our babies, no matter what age, are all very special and deserve to be remembered.

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Guest post: Saying goodbye had to be perfect (for you)

This personal and deeply moving guest post was kindly written for our blog by The Tangerine Owl Project. It recounts a grieving mother’s determination to plan a beautiful memorial for her baby daughter who lived for just 27 days. 
As I recall the days in the NICU and the loss of Delilah, I often wonder how I made it through in once piece.Usually I attribute this to my children and my husband. My husband was my partner who was also grieving and wasn’t afraid to talk about her or to let me feel however I was feeling without question or instruction. Our children were 3 and 4 at the time, and had come to see Delilah a few times at the hospital during hand-off between our parents and us. When we found that she was too sick to make it, we called everyone to the hospital and told them there that her condition was deteriorating and we were going to turn off the machines that afternoon.

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International Bereaved Mother’s Day

I thought this a little strange at first, we bereaved mothers feel our loss every minute so is it wise to focus on a day for our grief?… but I missed the point.

Now I get it… take a look at this page to find out why this day is needed.

http://carlymarieprojectheal.com/2012/05/international-bereaved-mothers-day.html

Guest blog: Collective emotion

[This article was written by my good friend Sali Green, reproduced with Sali’s kind permission]

An unexplainable sadness hit a great many people on hearing of the death of Peaches Geldof. But is it unexplainable? Some feel surprised and uncomfortable that they become part of a collective grief over someone they never met. Others show annoyance that such a fuss could be made about one person when there are so many people suffering in the world. Both reactions are natural, as are the vast spectrum of feelings around and in between them.

Emotions can be intensified because of sad news – the fragility of life; reminding us of our own losses; love and appreciation for those around us strengthened. New life lessons are learned and our young people educated.

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Shared article: We should not be isolated in mourning

To those who are grieving (and those trying to understand grief) please read this incredibly insightful article. I found myself saying yes throughout reading it. It speaks for so many.

‘…the first year is supposed to be the worst. It’s all still raw. …in some ways, the second year is harder. That’s when you realise they really aren’t coming back. It’s a horrible epiphany that can coincide with everyone else imagining you’re over the worst. But as someone once said: “Grief lasts longer than sympathy, which is one of the tragedies of the grieving.’

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/news-opinion/carolyn-hitt-should-not-isolated-6894754

Guest blog: To my grieving sister… (a poem)

A beautiful poem written by my older sister in a comment, which I think deserves a post of its own.

I live each day with you, understanding the pain,
Will life ever one day, be the same?
Each heartbreaking moment reliving what was,
Life as we knew it burst into dust.

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