I think one of the most frustrating things about becoming a bereaved parent is that NOBODY knows how you feel unless they have walked this journey for themselves. When you lose a child you constantly hear people apologise for your loss then they follow it up with ‘I know how you feel because my (insert family/friend here) died.’
I’m not saying the loss of another family member or a friend is insignificant. I’m not saying the loss of another family member or friend doesn’t hurt. I’m not saying the loss of another family member or friend doesn’t take you to a deep level of pain you have never felt before. It’s just that the loss of a child, the loss of a baby before they take their first breath, the loss of a newborn – it IS NOT supposed to happen.
You’re born with an innate, biological ability to grieve. You’re born with the preconceived notion that you will lose people older than you. It’s ‘normal’ for older people to die. When a baby dies, it throws everything you ever knew about death and about grief in to turmoil. When a baby’s heart stops beating it goes against the natural order of things. You don’t have this innate ability to grieve for that baby, you just have to ‘wing it’ …
I’m not for a second saying that the pain is MORE, I’m saying it’s completely different.
Those who have lost someone who passed at 20/30/40/80 years have 20/30/40/80 years of memories with that person. When they’re having a particularly hard day they can sit and think about all the happy times they spent with them, and laugh. That’s something that stillbirth parents do not have and will never have.
I would give ANYTHING just to know what my son’s eyes look like when they’re open. I would give ANYTHING to hear his cry, just once. I do not know what his laugh sounds like, I do not know what his cooing and gurgling sounds like. I do not know what he would be like at 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, 15 years, 20 years of age; and I NEVER will.
Whenever I have a particularly hard day, the only respite I get is thinking about what he was like when he was growing inside me. The only ‘happiness’ I get is knowing that my little boy only ever knew warmth and unconditional love; he never experienced the cruelty in the world.
The only memories I have of my child outside of the womb is him being delivered floppy, cold, silent and still and watching him deteriorate before my eyes during the 3 days I got to spend with him in hospital. The only memory I have of any form of event to celebrate my baby’s life is his funeral. I don’t have one birthday to look back on. I don’t have one Christmas to look back on …
It’s hard, having barely any memories of his existence.
I cannot possibly put in to words how that feels. I cannot begin to describe to those people who think they know how bereaved parents feel how they just do not. They just don’t and I hope to God that they never will.
The lack of memories I have with my child doesn’t make his life any less significant, like some people appear to believe. The lack of knowledge about my little boy doesn’t mean I don’t know him, I do.
It hurts knowing that I don’t have those memories with him, so when people feel the need to express that I cannot hurt that much because I didn’t have him here for too long, I cannot begin to tell you how wrong you are. I hurt because I DON’T have those memories with him. I can only imagine.
I can only imagine what he looks like with his eyes open. I can only imagine what his laugh and his cry sounds like. I can only imagine whether he would be energetic like his big sister Maisie, stubborn like his big sister Cora or lazy, like neither of his big sisters. I can only imagine whether he would be quiet and reserved or loud and boisterous. I can only imagine what his favourite animal would have been. I can only imagine how he would have acted on his first day of primary school, secondary school, college, university … I can only imagine whether his jet black wavy hair would have stayed that way forever or if it would have changed colour … Need I go on?
Everything is imaginary. Every part of my child’s existence outside of my pregnancy is imaginary. Everything.
Otis Dominic Anthony; I miss you, I love you, I will do both eternally.