It’s so frustrating, having two such diametrically opposed emotions residing in the one experience. Heartbreak and love.
Is it ever reconciled? Can it ever even out? When does it start to feel ok?
It’s been six years since my daughter death, her birthday (and her date of death) is in four days and I can hand on my heart say that, as yet, I haven’t found a way to balance the emotions out.
What I have found is that for the most part finding a way to move forward for me has involved holding the experience and being open and transparent.
This isn’t everyones movement towards healing, everyone’s experience resonates differently and everyone moves moment by moment forward in different ways. All of which can sit comfortably and be right for that person.
For me, healing is found in information and compassion. So for me it can look like a friend’s apologetic text saying they were told their friend has just undergone a medically advised termination and they want to acknowledge it, but help, they don’t know what to say. It can look like reading through academic articles so I can deliver prevention workshops to professionals, or it can be sitting in a chair in a room of bereaved parents telling my story so they can feel comfortable telling theirs. All of these areas pull and stretch me beyond my own experience with my stillborn daughter, my termination, my miscarriages and my ectopic pregnancy, and puts me in another persons shoes.
I’m not sure I have any answers on how it gets better, however I knew that my healing lay in being open, and finding ways to be supportive for other families going through a similar experience. Everyone has their own pathway. I feel genuinely lucky that mine helps provide me a sense of meaning to my own experience.
It doesn’t have to be grand, it just has to have personal meaning, maybe its writing a journal, a poem, making beautiful cakes, maybe it’s being open, maybe it’s the personal growth, maybe its professional drive, maybe it’s a change in direction, maybe it’s a deeper way to be compassionate to others, maybe it’s none of those things, maybe its too personal to share and the honour to the child is in holding them and their story close to your heart.
For me this week, six years on nearly to the day, I write a post to help me process and talk about the personal grief, I create some artwork to help me express myself and smile, I co-facilitate a group meeting for bereaved parents to hear and share our experiences, I dance way to intensely in public to 80’s music to embarrass my kids, I spend a morning delivering information on child death and support to medical professionals in training. I take my children to school, I go to the gym, do my university work, do my volunteer work, take the kids to their activities, then forget to take them to others (whoops), I make sure homework’s done, fall asleep at my desk, cook meals, clean and hang out with the people I love.
My heart is full, but it is permanently scarred. My life is busy, but I miss my daughter. I’m heartbroken, but I am happy and abundantly overflowing with love. It just is this way.
Now I’m going to make myself a hot choc, be a taxi service for my kids, try and avoid getting whacked by kids with hockey sticks, sing like a gangsta rapper in the car and wonder when I’m going to be brave enough to open Claudia’s memory box, it sits on a shelf about a metre above me as I write this in my study.
In that box, folded since last year, is her blanket. For five years, it has held the sweet newborn smell of her. I don’t know whether that scent still remains or has faded, but either way it will be make my stomach turn and fold me into tears.
Be brave, be vulnerable. Moment by moment, it’s just the way it is.