Loss, it’s all around us all the time. There is almost nobody who is unaffected by loss, it’s just the depth and gravity that is different. And when your loss is an “unnatural” one, it’s just that much harder to deal with.
Since my children died, I have witnessed other people go through loss of various kinds, but a loss very recently has rocked me to my core. People I know, not well, lost their little boy last week when he drowned. It’s this kind of unexpected, out of the blue loss, like with our darling Bella, that is just so hard to handle. When you are pregnant, when somebody is in hospital, when someone is old or sick, you know that there are potential risks of something going wrong, its often somewhat explainable. And while it’s still bloody awful and horrible, its generally not that knock the air out of you, completely unexpected, WTF!!!, event.
When you lose somebody completely unexpectedly, especially a child, and especially in your own home, it really does completely destroy all semblance of strength you have to deal with “normal” death events. You are rocked to your core more that you can ever describe or anticipate. And so in seeing and knowing that another set of parents has to go through this, I want to wrap them in cotton wool, whisk them away, and save them from having to live with and experience this kind of gut wrenching agony.
But I know that I can’t do that, its impossible, I have thought of every way under the sun! All that I can do is be there for them, trying to ease little bits of pain where I can, and support them and their family, friends and community to navigate this time. Life will never be the same again, ever. But you will get through this. Some how, in some way, you have the strength to crawl along this dark dark tunnel, which seems to never end. And you will never fully crawl out of the tunnel. There will always be a darkness inside you and around you, but as time goes on, you will start to see and experience a little more light. You will be a different person, forever changed and moulded by this event. You will never, ever “get over this” but you will learn to live with it.
There are so many things I want to say to them, too many to bombard them with at this stage. It’s all still too early, too new, too fresh.
I want them to know that you will never get over this, ever, but in time, you will learn to live with this grief, without feeling like its eating you alive.
You will be able to laugh and sing again, and feel some joy without feeling guilty. It will be hard, so so tough, and your view on the world will be completely different, joy will take on a whole different meaning, but you will feel it again.
Don’t lose hope. Because sometimes you just feel so utterly hopeless. You want to crawl up in a ball, hide from everything, and never wake up. But slowly the light of hope will start to shine again, at first creeping through every now and then, and then slowly becoming a more frequent visitor as time passes.
Please please please don’t be scared to ask for help! Whether in the form of therapy, medication, time away, meals, grocery shopping, whatever it is. Remember that people really want to be made to feel useful and helpful. Accept the offers of help.
People will tell you that it will get easier. It doesn’t really. But its gets different, softer perhaps. You will obsess less. You will learn to find some kind of acceptance. The nightmare that you feel you are living becomes less vivid. But its always there. Always. It’s a lifelong sentence. But you won’t remain doubled over in pain forever.
On some days you will be feeling okay, like you might be starting to deal with this a little. That the happiness to devastation ratio isn’t always at 0:100 anymore. And then something happens that takes you back to that dark dark place. But what does become easier, is that you don’t stay down there for that long. Your ability to duck under the wave instead of being dunked by it, does become a little better.
You will find ways to honour your child every day, in little ways that make sense to you. People often won’t understand the things that you do, why you are how you are, and that’s okay. The ones that really mean something, will always be there.
You will treasure the precious things in your life even more. You will appreciate things that you took for granted before. Life will take on a different view completely.
When everybody has moved on, has gotten busy with their own lives again, you are not alone! You have become part of this awful club that no parent ever, ever wants to join. But we are there for you, holding out a hand to you, carrying you when you need to be carried.
So just breath, one breath at a time, one moment at a time. You are stronger than you think, you will not drown. You need to make the choice to wake up every morning and to face the day. You have the privilege of life that your little boy was robbed of, and you need to make him oh so very proud of you. You get to decide what your life is going to look like going forward. Make this a life worth living, if for nobody else but him.