Strange title for a blog post, I’ll be the first to admit. This is something that has been playing on my mind so much in recent weeks and I just feel as though I need to get it down in words that are (hopefully) put together in a way people can make sense of (I shall let you be the judge of that!)….
It’s become increasingly apparent to me in recent months, that perhaps there isn’t the support we think there is for grieving parents and their families? Or maybe there is, but many of us just don’t know how to access it? I find myself floundering for the “right” words to say to people when they contact me, the “right” way to respond to the thousands of Instagram messages and countless emails. I know, I wrote a bloody book, right?! I must have this all figured out? Sadly, no. I wrote about my experience and our family experience of Teddy dying. I didn’t look to set myself up as a guru in any way; if anything I am reluctant in giving advice, as I am always so terrified I’ll advise the wrong thing entirely. I have just shared what’s right for us, what worked for us, and what continues to help in our day to day lives. Every journalist seems to want me to give “Three bits of advice for someone who has just lost a baby…” What? Like you are writing a column for a womens magazine? “Three ways to stop being a walkover at work and get that promotion..”. I’m afraid losing a baby isn’t really as simple as that, you can’t just dish out advice and expect the person to be miraculously fixed. So, no, I don’t give advice.
Which triggered the question; why do people think I have the answers? Why do they think I can tell them how they should be grieving or feeling, or what’s the best way to communicate to their friends or family? I feel helpless, utterly useless, as I read all of these most personal of stories and I cannot fix or help them in any way at all. I find myself repeating lines such as “It won’t feel like this forever” or “I hope you are surrounded by lots of love”; because that’s all I can hope for them.
I’m not a counsellor and I have never had any counselling. Not for any other reason than that I haven’t felt (yet) that I have needed or wanted to speak to anyone in a professional capacity about Teddy’s death. It’s not that the offers haven’t been there, they have (and I feel very fortunate for that). From my GP, from the hospital who cared for Teddy, from my previous employer and my husbands employer; all have looked to enable us to seek help, if we wanted it. We just never got to a point where we felt as though we needed it. Maybe we will? I absolutely would never rule it out, and I would actively encourage anyone to grab those lifelines when they are offered; if it feels right for you. One day, maybe it will for me.
I suppose, what I have come to think about (so much in recent weeks) is how exactly can I continue to go about trying to respond to everyones stories and messages at the current rate that is required from social media? (That was 8 and 1/2 hours per day of screen time during Baby Loss awareness week. Yep, thanks Apple for letting me know that?!). The answer? I can’t. I can’t fix everything and everyone, and I really need to be at peace with that. Not only because I am definitely not qualified in any capacity to do so, but because it’s beginning to have a huge impact on my own well being. My mind is becoming a constant swirl of other peoples worries and emotions, that simply aren’t mine to take on; and none of us should be expected to do that. I’m like a cup that has only just managed to stop spilling over with my own emotions and now other people are pouring their’s in on top and hoping that I can deal with them too. I can’t.
I feel incredibly humbled that people put so much faith and trust in me, that they think I can help them, and I hope that my inability to do so doesn’t make them think I don’t care; because I do. I have been there, I am still there; I am still navigating all of those emotions myself and trying to figure things out. I am still dealing with pregnancy and birth announcements from friends and family, and desperately trying to quash those emotions of jealously because it wasn’t that simple for us. We are still trying for another baby, a process that has become so much longer and more complicated than I ever could have anticipated. I reached out and was lucky enough to find a little support network with women who do understand, as we all lost our babies at a similar time. I am living through all of it too, and my heart hurts just as much as anyone who writes to me.
The book is just my thoughts up until this moment in time. It’s everything I am currently able to articulate about losing Teddy, up until this year. Maybe in ten, twenty, (thirty?!) years there will be more; who knows? For now, until this point, I haven’t navigated beyond here. It’s all there in black and white. I’m not able to expand or “go into more detail“, if I was, it would be in there too. I think sometimes, when you bare so many of your inner thoughts and emotions, that people think they might be able to squeeze out that bit extra if they squeeze you that little bit harder. The problem is, for the moment, there just isn’t another drop left.
After all, I’m just a grieving Mum too.
If you are struggling and need to talk to someone who can listen, here are some useful contact numbers –
The Lullaby Trust (Bereavement Support Line)- 0808 802 6868
Petals Charity (Counselling for bereaved parents)- 0300 688 0068