Our Alfie moto, Don't. cry because its over, smile because it happened.

Our Alfie moto, Don't cry because its over, smile because it happened.Dr Seuss

Friday, 14 October 2011

If grief came with a manual.........

it would read - once box is opened, it can never be closed again.

Step one - How one deals with this fact is entirely personal. Some of us mourn publicly loudly for a long time - others quietly and quickly and then pick up the pieces and 'move on'.

When Alfie died, I was horrified at the idea that one day I would be one of those women whose life is consumed with loss. Who wears jewellery with their child's name around their neck, publicly announcing my child died(i opted for a more subtle bracelet with his tiny photo and a lock of his hair), I have a teeny teeny photo in our house which unless you looked carefully you'd never see.
I never wanted to deny my boy, however he is mines and lives in my heart - I don't need to look at his photo - nor wear a t-shirt that says 'angel mummy'.  I rarely put up a facebook status about Alfie, except on his anniversary and in babyloss week, I know that might seem cold in comparison to other mums who post constantly but I feel happy with my way.
That is not to say, those who do go down this route of mourning are any better or any worse than me - it's simply a means of survival and what works best for one.

Of late my life has been consumed by sands and hence I feel I have become one of those mums who lives and breathes bereavement, how did I get here?
I was the positive one, the one who wouldn't be defined by my loss - I wanted to be much more than that 'women who lost her baby'. I fear in some eyes that's what I've become - this is not the case, as such life goes in waves...right now I'm in a sands phase, which will hopefully settle and my other more 'normal' life will return,. By normal I mean my normal - because really what is normal? What the majority do? What my peers do? who the hell knows what to do when a baby dies, who the hell really knows what to do when anyone dies - whether expected or unexpected one is never prepared for the harsh stark reality of loss. The curse of the human condition.

Step two - it's a continual learning curve.
Every time I think I've got it nailed something else comes up! I dot along in my cosy bubble loving my children I hold in my arms and loving the child I hold in my heart. I am surrounded by other mums who've lost a baby and it has become second nature to 'chat' about our wee ones, both living and lost.......HOW on earth did I not realise that others just don't want to hear that? One forgets that my 'normal' isn't everyone else's - I always thought/hoped one of the positive things about losing Alfie was that it had made me a more compassionate person - yikes, maybe not. When did I become so self-absorbed I forgot about others feelings.....

Thing is, it doesn't consume me, I very rarely cry anymore ( maybe I should, rather than this once a year malarky, which is all consuming and exhausting), and never chat about him at work or with boob club mums. I no longer need to scream out 'I LOST MY BABY' quietly inside while others are chatting about their live children. This is partly due to time and my darlings who I can cuddle and love daily. I know Alfie is with me in memory and that's enough now. The rawness has most certainly subsided - however like Karma, grief come back to bite you on the as. Just when life is dotting along the bubble bursts and it all comes rushing back. Grief is hard enough without feeling judged about the way one copes and survives through it - see we really do need a manual - then no one would be offended or hurt, there is plenty enough of that being doled out by life in general.

Step 3 - find a way to survive it. This can change regularly, however it is easier to go with ones emotions (in my opinion) as opposed to bottling them up.
I am a talker and an obssesser - or as my mum would say 'a dog with a bone', hmmm wonder where that comes from mum?
When Alfie died I talked about him non stop, it was all I could do to make him seem real, otherwise those 9months didn't really happen. I realise I am a very open person and much prefer to deal with things head on, I always assume the best in people and think 'talking' can solve the worlds problems - well that's what I tell my school kids - how can I preach peace to them and not firmly believe negotiation is the best way forward. Duh, Clare you live in a naive idealistic world, you'd think by 40 I'd have sussed that one out!

 Step 4 - always always use any emotional situation to make you become a better person.

Although I over analyse everything - and hmm truthfully nothing sometimes I try to come up with a positive spin on situations, again a teaching ideology. How, can one become a better person if they don't improve and learn from their mistakes?  Of late I seem to be offending everyone with my ways of dealing with grief - so I am taking it all on board and adjusting accordingly. I will endeavor to be more sensitive to others feelings and emotions, I will not discuss my loss publicly, I have this blog to help me if I need to ponder on my wee man. The good thing is all these new realisations will help me and others, so that can't be a bad thing.

Last and final step (so far, as I'm sure I'll struggle and learn about how to cope with my loss for the rest of my days)
You can not quantify grief, nor can one type of loss be any worse or any better than another. 
Losing a person who is loved, wanted, cherished cared for is hard regardless of gestation of pregnancy, how many minutes the child lived, how many years you've rasied and nurtured your child or how many years you've loved and shared life with that person -  it is irrelevant the gaping massive hole they left is the same size and all the dealing/coping/surviving in the world ain't gonna ever fill it back up - that's the shitty reality.
How we deal with the reality of the loss is what makes it different and, as I said above we must all do what it takes to get through, whilst hopefully not hurting anyone in the process.

And so......I feel better after articulating all of that - I hope this helps others to understand my process of dealing with grief and helps them deal with theirs. Big love to all, xxxx

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