I am certain that I have covered this before, certainly around the this time of year.
Why do I share my pain, thoughts and feelings about the loss of my eldest two daughters publicly?
Why do I leave messages addressed to them in places where everyone can see them?
Why don’t I maintain some sort of perceived ‘dignified’ silence and grieve privately?
Because that is simply not good enough. Because that would condemn my girls into a hushed silence where they will remain, until they are eventually forgotten by time.
I want you to know their names and their stories. I want you to hear the anguish and the pain of a bereaved mother, because silence and privacy are not enough.
I want the world to know that these two perfect, precious little girls existed. I will never, ever stop jumping up and down, waving my arms and screaming their names out to you, until it somehow sticks.
They had such short lives but I deeply and profoundly believe that they are still alive and living a life – it just so happens to be a life that I cannot see. I believe that they are living their lives ostensibly through their Dad and I and the rest of their family. They are looking over shoulders, laughing at jokes and joining in the good and the bad of family life.
The moment I shun them, stop talking about them, is the moment I shut the door on them and make them unwelcome in our lives. As a decent enough mum, I simply cannot do that.
Does it make other people uncomfortable? Seriously? I couldn’t care less. If you are lucky enough to have never been where we have been, then you haven’t an inch of room to comment. If you have tragically been there, then man your own ship and plot you own course – no two griefs are the same in the same way no two children are exactly alike. Remember though: You are not alone either.
I know it can be so easy to judge how others handle their grief – I know I did at first – but it is through acceptance and solidarity that you understand that everyone will deal with such a loss differently and that must be respected. So just because I don’t do what you do when you grieve, does not mean my pain (or yours) is any less important or powerful.
Rest assured – I do not want nor require your sympathy. It is good to get some kind words from people letting me know that they are thinking of us at this time of year, but I don’t require nor seek attention for myself. I just want the focus to be on the babies and on the grief journey that I and no many parents go on.
One big benefit for being loud and proud about my daughters, is it is another affront to the stigma that surrounds infant loss. No one wants to talk about it, because it is too harsh – too painful – to realise into dialogue.
I want to show others that talking about the loss of a child and the subsequent years of grief that follow are okay to talk about. If family can’t or do not want to be there, fine, but there are a wave of others who will listen. You are not alone. You are part of a strong community of men and women who have faced the unthinkable and lost a child or more.
So, if you feel pushed out of your comfort zone by some bereaved parents who are constantly banging on about the loss of their child no matter how long ago, then see that as a cue for you to examine why it makes you feel that way and then, in a fit of empathy, try to understand why those parents will never, ever let their babies names and brief lives by silenced.
If you have any queries or need support, please either contact me on my contact page or get in touch with SANDS, the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society – a charity that I owe a lot to.