I said I’d give myself a month of writing. I’m not always good at sticking with things. Guess I get impatient and want instant results. Although I’m not sure what I was expecting to be a ‘result’ from writing this blog. I guess I was trying to meet a need to let words out and try to make sense of the thoughts that are there. I’m not sure the one sided conversation with myself really works though.
I said yesterday about the power of being positive and the challenge to keep that going. Today has felt harder to keep knocking those balls back. I wonder if I am just playing mind games with myself to say ‘don’t worry this will work’ when in reality my thoughts are throwing out ‘you’re on your own now, can you hack it’? ‘do you really think this writing stuff will work, what if it doesn’t?’ ‘Elliot isn’t coming back, you’ll never survive this’.
But I know if you just let sad or negative thoughts just fester away, they can drag you to places you don’t want to go. I still don’t trust how I feel, not without being able to check in or bounce it off someone. Someone who can help you put a balanced perspective on it. I miss that. Someone who can encourage you to trust in how you feel without being scared or anxious – to say it’s ok for things to just be there. Don’t get tangled up with the thoughts that are there – just let them be – they won’t stay.
Things do change though don’t they. Feelings don’t stay the same, they move on. They may come back but even when they come back they are slightly different. Nothing stays the same. I’ve also come too far in the past few years to take steps back now – but these are easy words to say – harder to believe and put into practice.
I’m trying to help support a mum at the moment. Her little girl died suddenly just a short while ago. Very similar circumstances to Elliot. Just went for a sleep and never woke up. I desperately want to rewind her life and make it so it never happened. I know the emotional fog she is in, I remember it as though it was yesterday. Moving through each minute of every day in what feels like slow motion, you are in a bubble, here but not really part of reality. Someone said that is your brain’s way of protecting you. If your body felt the true impact of your child dying all at once – it just wouldn’t survive. So it is like your brain slow drip fields the reality to you.
It feels like your world has stopped but everyone else’s life is just continuing as normal. You want to scream at everyone and tell them to stop – that the world isn’t right anymore. I remember leaving the hospital that night and trying to work out why the traffic lights were still changing their colours, why cars were still driving on the road – why was everything outside of me acting so ‘normally’ when nothing inside me would ever be normal again.
So for this mum, I know where she is at and I know I can’t take it away or make it better. But I can tell her how she feels is normal, it’s ok and that gradually over time it will change. How she feels won’t stay the same. The gaps between the desperately dark times will slowly get longer. Yes they will still be there, so will the pain, anger, hurt and the sheer desperate longing to just have your life and your little girl back. But it will change – it’s not about it getting ‘better’, you just learn to cope a little differently with it.
And that it is ok to feel how she does. It is what it is and she just needs to put one tiny foot in front of the other when she can and just be kind to herself. That’s what having children does – we love them on such an intense deep emotional level – that of course the pain and despair will still be there. It’s natural. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a happy life, still find things to enjoy, still have hopes and dreams. It just means that your immense grief and sadness sits alongside all the other emotions that are there. Some days are worse than others, you can’t predict when the waves of grief will hit but the change is that they don’t continually hit as time moves slowly on – there are times of calm and you take those where you can and build on them, bank them for when the waves hit again.
What is hard though is other people’s reactions – ‘time to move on’, ‘get over it’ ‘give all your love to your remaining children now’. These are all comments this mum has had in the past few weeks. Sometimes I feel that as parents who have lost a child – we cope with it a lot better than those around us. People want you to be ok so that they can be ok, that they can move on. That’s understandable – but it is better if we can go alongside someone on their journey, rather than hurry them on and expect them to adhere to our pace and our needs. Not to judge them for how they cope but to be open and listen – let them know that their children still do exist, we can still talk about them, tears are ok – they are normal, not to be feared.
Can hope grow when the fears and doubts are still there?
EJ, I love you more than words can ever say.