This is Romy’s bench; the bench lovingly created by our friends and neighbours in the small village she was born in. It has weathered a little over the past three years but the beauty of the oak is still very evident. At first, it sat outside the front of our house and I would occasionally sit there during the day while the children were at school, lost in my grief and wondering what our future might hold.
Raising My Spirits – And My Game
I sat down yesterday to write a blog post. As some of you know, I retired this blog a few months ago when I realised that my grieving process had taken a turn and that I had found real purpose and joy in my writing. I decided to direct the limited spare time I have to focus all my efforts and energy into creating the book I promised Romy I would write.
Sitting down and writing a book caused me to take a real look at who and what I am, which of course also showed me how much has changed in me since Romy died. However, I am also surprised to find that some things have not changed. I have written often about Romy’s role in helping both Darius and I to realise our truth; our purpose in life, but I have struggled with coming clean with mine.
The Ghost of Christmas Future
I could sit here and write about what a dismal Christmas I’ll be having this year. Once again, Romy is not here. Once again, we have chosen a beautiful tree ornament in her memory and as the rest of the family settle down for an afternoon of films in front of the fire I will once again make the journey to the burial ground to leave roses for my youngest girl and reflect on what sort of Christmas we might be having if she were here with us.
As a child, I loved Christmas. Continue reading
Politics and Grief
I am not a political person. Not even slightly. The news is never on in our house and we don’t buy, or read, newspapers or subscribe to online news websites. It is still a source of amusement and consternation in my family that I was two whole days late to the party when the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death came out.
However, for the first time in my life I am about to comment publicly on a political event. Continue reading
Candles and Cake
Today, October 15th, is International Infant Loss Awareness Day. At 7pm across all timezones worldwide, bereaved parents and their families and friends are invited to light a candle in memory of a precious child or baby who has died.
On October 15th 2014, just 3 months after Romy died I lit our candle. Continue reading
A Message in Two Bottles
It was a long, lazy summer and during it I made the decision to cancel all counselling. It’s a bit shocking, to see it written down in black and white, but after two years of endless varieties of counselling with women, men, on the phone, in person, talking about it and sitting in silence I have finally admitted it: I am counselled out. I have counselling fatigue. I need counselling to help me unravel all the counselling theories I have amassed. Continue reading
I have sat down to write this post as we approach tomorrow, the second anniversary of our daughter’s death feeling that I must commemorate it, and her, in some way, but words are failing me this time.
Exactly two years ago today, I was in the middle of a living nightmare which has endured to this day. Continue reading
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
The Fabric of Life
Just the other day, I made a pretty big decision. I decided to sell my wedding dress. Unusually for me, this isn’t a decision I have made quickly. Let me explain.
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:
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?
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
Anger and Angels
I am aware that I have been very silent over the past few weeks during the festive season. This has been partly due to some expected, obvious reasons, and partly not.
Firstly I was pretty sick over the entire Christmas break, battling a viral infection and cough that lasted an epic eight weeks. Somewhere in me, I knew that I would be ‘felled’ by something nasty over Christmas. Ever since Romy passed I have weirdly been in excellent health. This was a puzzle to me as I knew how run down I was emotionally. Why, then, did I seem to be so physically resistant to anything? Then I read somewhere that grief gives us boundless, ‘unhuman’ energy, and this I know to be true. For the past six months – and tomorrow marks this point to the day – I have been bouncing off the walls, leaping about with boundless, unspent energy which seemed to be driving me forward. Continue reading
What Really Matters
A few weeks ago now, well into the task of decluttering ahead of our impending move, I was faced with the monumentally difficult task of sorting through Romy’s belongings. As you can imagine, I had been dreading this for a long time. The smallest bedroom in our house, happily vacated by our older daughter as she moved in with her brother, had been earmarked for Romy and contained drawers of her clothes – some worn, some still with tags attached – and baskets of her toys. Our older children had wooden name plates for their doors and a few days after Romy was born we excitedly ordered her a matching one which was proudly displayed on the door that would be hers. We had moved her sister’s plate and reattached it onto the joint bedroom before placing the new plate onto Romy’s bedroom door, where it stayed for weeks. Continue reading
I have been thinking about writing this post for many weeks. Thinking about it, and then putting it off, and putting it off some more. One of the things I promised Romy I would do is write about her, her life and its meaning, but up until now it has just been too difficult and painful. But I always do what I say I’m going to do, so here is the first post to this blog. I’m still not sure who I am writing this for: for me, for her, for you all who have been so incredibly kind and supportive but who have no possible way of knowing what my life is like now. I have resisted sharing how I feel because the nightmare that I currently live each day is so awful I cannot bear to share it with anyone: not another mother, not a friend, and with the exception of my husbandd, certainly not a loved one. I don’t want to invite anyone into this hell. So please bear with me on several levels. My writing skills, historically pretty good, are now shaky as I find it very difficult to articulate what I feel. I am a total technophobe, so if this somehow makes it onto the right page without disappearing into the ether I will be amazed. Continue reading