Happy birthday my precious darling Thomas.
Today you would have been 6 years old. And 6 years ago we also lost you and you went to be with your sister. We lost you on a Wednesday, just like today is a Wednesday. I remember the morning and the lead up to it as clearly as if it were yesterday. Last night I even woke up at the same time as I remember waking up that early early Wednesday morning 6 years ago – when I passed the 8cm clot that had caused all our issues in the first place. I remember thinking that that was perhaps a good sign, whereas it actually showed that my cervix had opened and that you were getting ready to make your way into our world…way way too early, at 26 weeks and 4 days. Thank goodness that I was already in hospital when this all happened, that we had the best people looking after us. I remain eternally grateful to them.
I look back on that day and I wish I hadn’t been so drugged on morphine. I wish I had spent more time with you, examining you. I wish I hadn’t been so scared. I wish we had taken pictures of you without tubes in. I wish…I wish…but we can’t go back and change it. I would if I could…even just to do that day over again…not to change the outcome but rather to change how I said goodbye to you.
Your brother knows you and talks of you. He often wonders what it would have been like had you lived, had you not come so early. Don’t we all? The first thing he said this morning when he woke up “my brother died today and that makes me feel so sad”. I love the fact that he can put words to that. I then tried to reframe it for him to encourage him to see it rather as the day that you were born and to try and celebrate that rather than letting the sadness envelope it all. Easier said than done I know. I haven’t been able to do that today.
Its been a busy, full day, and I haven’t been able to carve out enough time just to think about you, and spend time with you. I have had to “hold myself together” a lot today and I feel a pressing heaviness on my chest tonight because of that. Like I didn’t let free what I needed to, like I didn’t acknowledge my grief enough today.
It’s been a long 6 years of grief…6 years and 9 months actually since your sister died. And I have used the last few days to reflect on my grief and how it has changed. I have also just finished reading Brene Browns “Atlas of the Heart” where she so so very beautifully puts into words feelings around anguish, sadness and grief.
Here are just a few of the parts that really resonated with me.
“Anguish is an almost unbearable and traumatic swirl of shock, incredulity, grief and powerlessness. It not only takes away our ability to breathe, feel and think – it comes for our bones. The element of powerlessness is what makes anguish traumatic.”This was really so true of my first few years of grief, there was so much deep anguish that it was sometimes hard to even breath or function at all.
“What we think of as a familiar grief – a grief we’ve come to know and understand and even integrate into our lives – can surprise us again and again, often in the form of anguish.” My grief has indeed become a familiar grief now but then on days like today, the anguish comes back to sit heavily on my chest.
“Feeling sad is a normal response to loss or defeat or even the perception of loss or defeat. To be human is to know sadness. Owning our sadness is courageous and a necessary step in finding our way back to ourselves and to each other.”
“Acknowledging and naming our own sadness is critical to the formation of compassion and empathy. In our saddest moments, we want to be held by or feel connected to someone who has known that same ache, even if what caused it is completely different. We don’t want our sadness overlooked or diminished by someone who can’t tolerate what we’re feeling because they’re unwilling or unable to own their own sadness.” This is just so so true, on so many levels. And I feel that lack of connection today very acutely because I had to largely carry on “as normal” today.
“The more difficult it is for us to articulate our experience of loss, longing and feeling lost to the people around us, the more disconnected and alone we feel. Talking about grief is difficult in a world that wants us to “get over it” or a community that is quick to pathologize grief.”
And these last parts particularly hit home for me, and if you read no others, read these two excerpts!
“When a person adapts to a loss grief is not over. It doesn’t mean that we’re sad the rest of our lives, it means that grief “finds a place” in our lives. Imagine a world in which we honour that place in ourselves and others rather than hiding it, ignoring it, or pretending it didn’t exist because of fear or shame.”
“Each person’s grief is as unique as their fingerprint. But what everyone has in common is that no matter how they grieve, they share a need for their grief to be witnessed. That doesn’t mean needing someone to try and lessen it or reframe it for them. The need is for someone to be fully present to the magnitude of their loss without trying to point out the silver lining.”
Our baby boy…all 700grams of you…thank you for choosing me as your mom…I am forever grateful for the lessons you have taught me. I am sorry I couldn’t protect you. I am sorry I couldn’t keep you safe. I am sorry for so so much. But I am not sorry for the impact your short little life had on me, as even through the anguish you taught me so much.
I love you baby boy, always and forever.