Grief is a feeling that I thought I knew, but one that I actually only just met.
It is a feeling that sweeps us up and throws us down; that darkens our world with a blackness so thick and so deep that surely no light will ever get through. It kicks us in the stomach and rips out our raw heart. It is a feeling I would wish upon no-one, yet I know it is one that eventually captures everyone, at least for a time in their life.
Though from grief, we can also grow. We can grow stronger and we can grow taller. We can grow in love, and in empathy. And perhaps most of all, we can grow in compassion.
Yesterday, my husband and I lost our six week old baby. He or she was young, but he or she was ours. Our baby. Our family.
Who knew you could develop a love so deep for a tiny little blueberry in your belly. We spoke to our little munchkin every night. We sung munchkin songs and took photos of him/her getting bigger in mummy’s growing belly. It was a period in life filled with so much love and excitement and one that ended in so much sadness and grief. But along with the sadness and grief, we find meaning and we find hope.
I write this today because it is a topic rarely talked about. It is one we hear about from our doctors and from WebMD, but not one we often hear about from our friends or family. One in five women go through the traumatic experience of pregnancy loss. And yet, they do so in silence. They hold their breath and suck in their tears. They put on a brave face for the world to see, when inside, a tiny piece of them has died.
I understand why many do not want to talk about this topic. It is absolutely devastating and one that perhaps many try to shut out, forget or at least deal with privately. I 100% understand this, and support this too! Everyone needs to deal with grief in a way that works for them.
For me, expression is therapy. So is the opportunity – albeit how small – to help even one other person out there who is suffering from their loss, or perhaps who knows someone else who is.
For us, the feeling is still so raw. We have a long process of healing ahead, but already, my husband and I have learned and grown so much.
This experience will of course hurt us, but it will not destroy us. It will shape us, but it will not define us. Through our loss, we will grow. Our munchkin, now resting in peace, has given us a gift that we will always treasure; a gift of new perspective, of deeper love and of greater appreciation. Already we have grown together, and we know that together we will continue to grow. In tragedy, we can find meaning, and already for us this has been true.
If I could offer any advice or solace to anyone who has been, is going through or might ever have to go through such a loss, it would be this:
1. Give Love and Receive Love Too
Sometimes the hardest thing when we are suffering is to open our heart to those that are trying to fill it. It is hard to be vulnerable. Sometimes it feels easier to shut off from the world. But through love, we find healing. Open your heart to those who love you and allow them to warm it. Everyone has a story, and everyone has been through unbearable pain. You are not alone. You are never alone. And even though you might sometimes feel it, when you open yourself up to those around you, you will learn very quickly that they are right there beside you. And in that feeling, maybe not immediately, but eventually, you will find strength.
2. Count You Blessings Every Single Day
It is difficult to count your blessings when you are suffering loss. The whole world feels so dark, and the blessings might be difficult to find. But I promise, they are there. And sometimes the search can be just as valuable as the find. No matter how hard it is, or how long it takes, make it you mission to count your blessings every. single. day. It will be really challenging at first, but each day it will get a tiny bit easier, and each day, you will get a tiny bit stronger. And even when you feel better – which you will – don’t stop counting your blessings. Let this period in your life serve as a gift; let it be the trigger for an exercise in gratitude that you maintain throughout your life. It is not airy-fairy. It is fact. Studies have shown over and over again the power of a blessings journal in strengthening our mind and spirit. Just three things every day, no matter how big or small, that you are thankful for. Write them down and hold them in your heart. Do it today, do it tomorrow, and do it every day thereafter. With time, things will get a little bit easier and blessings will become a little bit more apparent. And then when you recover, which you will, your life will be deeper and richer than ever before. Perhaps today, that thought and that hope can be your first blessing.
3. Find Purpose
When our lives shatter right before our eyes, it is difficult to find meaning. It is difficult to get out of bed. My coffee this-morning tasted foul (and I am the ultimate coffee lover). My sushi was hardly editable (and I am the ultimate sushi lover). All of a sudden, everything that once gave us joy feels meaningless. There is an emptiness that feels so impossible to fill. But as humans, we survive on love and on meaning. We need to dig deep and to try our very hardest to find a little piece of meaning each day, even if it is just something tiny. Do not wake up without hope. Whether it be the night before, or the morning of, just find even one thing that will make your day meaningful: A visit to your nan, an exercise class, writing, painting, singing, something. At first, it might not offer much solace, but keep at it, because each and every day, your meaning and purpose will grow stronger, and with it, you will too.
I hope in some small way, these tips can help. Yes. The pain runs deep. The pain runs so deep that my heart feels too heavy for me to stand up. But I know that every single day will get a tiny bit easier, and hopefully, through my pain, I will be able to offer some degree of comfort to somebody else who is suffering too.
I wrote to my munchkin almost every day when he or she was growing in my belly. I would like to finish with my final note. Although it is my final note, know that it is not my final thought, and our love for munchkin will live forever.
Today will be my last letter to you. Yesterday afternoon, you left your mummy and daddy to go to a peaceful place. Our hearts ache so immensely, but we know that it was meant to be. Your mum and dad still love you so much and always always will. You were our first little heart-beat. We know you will not be our last, but we will yet always remember you as our first. I hope you rest peacefully knowing that you bought so much joy and pleasure to your mum and dad. Every day that you were inside of mummy was such a gift to us. We came closer and grew stronger both through your life and through your death, and as hard as it is, know that your mum and dad have each other, and that is what makes all of the difference.
Love you always,
Mum and Dad xx”
Photo credit: adapted from Pixabay