Two days ago, we returned home from Spain. Not a holiday, but a trip to visit family. We last travelled there together in early July 2014, with Romy. Last year I couldn’t bring myself to visit Spain, where my husband’s mother lives and where his sister, who lives in the US, visits each summer with her family. Although by then pregnant with M, the idea of being where Romy had been so soon before we lost her was unbearable. This year, D went ahead and booked himself a solo flight knowing that I wouldn’t be able to face it. Our youngest is now nine months old and the parallels are many.

Despite this, Continue reading

(No) Going Back To ‘Normal’

I’ll put my hand up here, and with absolutely no offence meant to anybody, I’ll admit that I dislike the term ‘new normal’ almost as much as I dislike ‘rainbow baby’. (For reference: ‘new normal’ describes the state you find yourself in after a bereavement, serious illness or other life changing event. A ‘rainbow baby’ is a baby born to parents who have lost other children or babies). Even before I joined the ranks of the bereaved I struggled with the term ‘normal’, especially in relation to parenting or children. What on earth is ‘normal’? Everybody’s normal is different, and the word itself implies that there is some kind of invisible generic manual we ‘should’ all be following.

I dislike this term because I think it also implies that there is some kind of end goal with grief and I know this not to be true. Like those other oft repeated adages, ‘Time heals’, ’It will get better’ and, ‘There’s always someone worse off than you’, when you are lost in the maelstrom of grief so intense it feels as if you’ve been hit by a bus every day, these words can feel empty, confusing and offensive. Continue reading

Retracing My Steps

I wrote recently about the Facebook post by my friend, a nurse, featuring a video I found deeply moving. It followed a young woman making a visit to the hospital where she and her son were treated following a terrible car accident that killed her husband. She and her baby son survived and she made the journey ten years later to thank all the medical professionals who had saved her son’s life.

I have thought endlessly about this film ever since I first saw it as it speaks to me on so many levels.

Ever since Thursday 17th July 2014 when for the first time in my life I called 999 and asked for an ambulance, Continue reading

Mushrooms on Toast

This seems like an random title for a post, even more so when I reveal that today I want to tackle the subject of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or, to give it its catchier title, PTSD. Before July 2014 I had heard of this condition and thought that it was something suffered by war veterans and that it consisted of nightmares and vivid flashbacks. Beyond that, my knowledge was questionable. In the eighteen months or so that I’ve been living with this condition myself I have learnt a whole lot more about it, very little of it of a professional bent. Here is a description of the condition:

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The Name of the Rose

I have thought long and hard about writing this post. Soon after Romy died I found it immensely helpful to put my thoughts and feelings into words, as a way of communicating with those who so kindly wanted to know how I was, and also to help me to process what I was living through. The positive feedback I gained from my posts helped me so much: thank you.

Writing this blog gave me so much in those early days. It gave me some sense of purpose outside doing my best to keep my remaining two children alive. It gave me something to do when I thought I would go out of my mind. It gave me connection to others who had experienced this mind blowing devastation.

That was around eighteen months ago. So why on earth did I stop?

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The Two Faces of Grief

I am the mother of three children. The question I dread the most from a stranger is, “How many children do you have?” Every time I have heard it I have died a thousand deaths. The first time anyone ever asked me I answered, ‘Two’ out of sheer panic and the ensuing feeling of guilt and shame tortured me for days. This was just two weeks after Romy’s passing when, in the depths of my grief, I was wandering about in some kind of haze. I had absolutely insisted on keeping a chiropodist’s appointment, despite everyone in the house insisting that this wasn’t a necessary, or advisable, thing to do. I justified it by pointing out that it was at a clinic I had never been to before, nobody there knew me and besides, it was imperative that I got the dry skin on my heels taken care of immediately. Grief makes big deals out of some very pointless things. Continue reading