It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that bad things happen to other people, and that significant loss, such as losing a child also happens to someone else.
The reality is death doesn’t discriminate. Regardless of whether it’s at 20 weeks gestation, 20 days old, or 20 years old, it is always the person left behind that inherits the impossible task of trying to figure out how to keep going.
Some days are brighter, and as time goes by the number of these days increase, but don’t assume for a second that this means we are done with our sadness.
My experience of losing Ben has left me changed on so many levels. I question everything, even more than I used to before Ben.
Yes, I speak in ‘before Ben’ and ‘after Ben’ terms. Most of us do.
Time warps when you lose a child and the only way to track history is in terms of ‘before Ben / after Ben’.
I have frequent moments of missing the person I used to be and yet I know I am many wonderful things today. It has taken me a while, but I have come to like who I am.
I am still driven, I am still passionate, and I want so desperately to make a difference. But given the choice, what I really want is to resume my physical role as Ben’s mum.
I never expected to lose my child, but it happened. And just because you might see me burying my head in the sand sometimes, does not mean I am in denial.
Positive thinking does not mean you are turning into an ostrich.
Do you think you might be in denial? they said.
Ha! NO!! I look back on this comment now, and anyway, so what if I was!
You should really go talk to someone! they said.
Really? And what is that going to do for me? I get up. I function. I look after myself.
Is there someone that can bring Ben back to me?? Find them and I promise I’ll go see them!
Today I am very aware of the fact that ‘wearing blinders’ rather than looking at what is going on, or specifically what I might be feeling right now, is not the way to create a positive and meaningful future. That is not to say that I don’t still have times where I do this – I am human after all.
What I am also aware of is that, in certain circumstances, I need to do what feels right for me. This includes remembering that it is my prerogative to sit on the kitchen floor and sulk or bawl when I need to. And yes – wallow when I need to.
Sculptors need to look at the block and cut pieces away before their vision emerges.
Painters need to look at the canvass and apply brushstrokes of paint before the bigger picture becomes clear.
There is no other experience like that of losing a child. Sometimes we need to ugly cry on and off for an hour, a day, or a week. Sometimes we need to eat all the wrong foods without care or consideration.
Sometimes we need to go back to bed or remain there and throw our brain at something that distracts us from the reality of our block or our canvass… for a while.
For us, these creations represent the rest of our life and some days it’s just too hard to face that.
What’s one of the hardest things you had to do recently?
Mine was writing down my son’s dates. It’s amazing how something that appears so simple, can cause so much pain and sadness.
And what got me through the moment? Knowing four other mothers had contacted me that day and they were also mourning their children and also falling apart.
Society is quick to adopt the thinking that we should be ‘fixed’ because X amount of time has passed and we look like we’re doing so well.
Society, please understand, despite how it might appear and no matter what amazing and great things we are doing:
We have not forgotten what happened to our children
We have not felt the last of our pain and
We have not cried the last of our tears.
There comes a day when most of us can be joy-filled. We fill ourselves up with gratitude for having had our beautiful babies and are less focussed on them no longer physically being here. We are driven to keep their memory alive and build magnificent foundations on the backs of our ‘Bens’.
As each day passes, we become more determined to make our time count, and their lives matter. As each day passes we learn how to grow into the new person that we have become and get better at embracing the changes that come along with this.
The best part is that by using the power of choice, we get to create something so beautiful and special because of what we have experienced – and that is incredibly powerful!
Dedicated to all the mothers that get me through and all the mothers I am privileged to walk alongside.
Dalya xx 💙