I know that sounds like a statement of relief, but it’s really not. I feel as if “Another Year Done” is a huge tick in the metaphorical box of life, a massive achievement on our part. I am not one to wish time away, quite the opposite; but I knew from the start that I had to be kind to myself in 2017 and so getting through it feels epic. This time last year I felt utterly miserable; I honestly couldn’t see the wood for the trees. I couldn’t fathom how, after Teddy had already died, we could go on to lose another baby; our rainbow. Life was feeling incredibly, dare I say, unfair; and I wanted things to turn around for us so desperately. I recall the walk we took on New Years Day, as we do every year; and I remember us saying to each other that this year, 2017, it had to get better. Let’s face it, I don’t think it could have got much worse.
In that respect, we were already ahead of the game. We were at an all-time low. For me it was physically and mentally I think. I made a promise to myself that I would focus on looking after myself, more than ever before. Each year since we have been together (that’s over seven long years now), my husband and I have set a goals list for the year ahead. Things we have wanted to achieve, as individuals or together; and we compile them on the same list each time and then help and support each other as best we can to ensure we achieve as many of them as possible before the year is through. Then on 1st January each year, we go through last year’s list and see what we have managed to pull off; and then, it re-starts for another year. It’s safe to say that 2016’s list went well and truly out of the window after Teddy died; it was a matter of survival. To an extent I believed that 2017 would be too; but we looked over the list on 1st January 2018, I read over those words from last years list,“Elle, be healthy and focus on looking after yourself.” For the first time in a long time, I felt as though I had achieved something; something that was really significant to myself and my well being. It felt pretty, bloody marvellous if I am honest.
I couldn’t quite believe I had managed to follow up the worst year, with one where I had been able to feel good about myself again; truly healthy in every aspect. I have written so often about all of the things I have done to help myself last year (read here), but I think the end of a year always brings about that full reflection of whether you have achieved something as a whole.
Sure, there are always a few things on the list that we don’t “achieve”, but if we stay focused on the main things, then we usually manage over fifty percent. I also found that, for me, if I kept the focus on looking after myself then the rest of the things kind of follow as I am in a far better mind-frame to focus on them too.
When I started this blog almost a year ago, it was definitely a form of therapy for me. A way to tell Teddy’s story to the world, to connect with other women and families who had experienced the loss of their child, and to hopefully write something that might help to make them feel less alone. I think it was more for my benefit that I would have cared to admit at the time; but I can see that now. I never imagined that it would snowball in a matter of twelve months; that I would have people contacting me from all over the world to say “Me too”; that it would enable me to raise more awareness and money for charity in one year than I had ever dreamed possible; but it has done exactly that. Although there were no achievements I wanted to measure in relation to this blog when we wrote last years “list”, I almost wish I had; as it has blown me away.
To make up for it, I have added it to the list this year. I want to carry on writing about Teddy, more so than ever. I think it’s because I finally feel like I am in a place where I am mentally strong enough to delve into those feelings and emotions without feeling that deep, dark pang of grief too overwhelmingly. I hope that if I keep talking, that it might encourage others to do so too; so that we might create a support network that has never existed before, for parents who have lost a child. I feel so fortunate that in writing this blog I have been able to focus my energy into a positive force, something that is hopefully helping to make changes. It seems so strange to think that this time last year it didn’t even exist, it was just an idea floating around my head; one that I was a little bit scared to share with the world.
I also want to raise more money for charity. We achieved £21k over the course of 2017; bringing our new fundraising total to over £37k. This year I would like us to hit fifty thousand; and I really feel like that is possible now. With my husband and his friends committing their time and dedication (or should I say TEDication) to their TEDicated Cycle to raise money for Teddy’s Legacy Fund, I feel like anything is possible in the realms of fundraising this year.
There are so many exciting things in store this year; I know it sounds so cliche, but feel like a different person looking at the twelve months ahead than I did this time a year ago. Of course, our efforts to try and have a brother or sister for Teddy continue; and I couldn’t be more grateful for the wonderful care I have received from my consultant in helping us to achieve this dream. I know it will happen, I can feel it in every part of me. I think that’s what 2018 will be all about for me; always believing that something wonderful is about to happen…..