Ten years is a big anniversary and I feel able to write to about this properly. Losing a child is one of the cruellest things possible, the ongoing pain is unimaginable and, no matter how much a parent is able to grip life and get on with it, that loss is always felt, it is always there.
My baby boy died 10 years ago tonight – I don’t remember a great deal of that night. I remember feeling like my heart was being ripped out, I remember screaming and I remember crying and cuddling my baby. I don’t remember leaving the hospital, I don’t remember travelling home and I don’t remember being at home or sleeping. The next thing I remember is walking on Longsands with my husband at dawn and a desire to be with my children.
After that it was all about grief and the long, traumatic, painful road to some recovery. Parents who have just lost a child have a look, it is all in the eyes – it is a look of despair and a pain so deep that we don’t know if we can cope. There is a desperate need to know when the pain will ease, when will it get better.
I physically missed my baby, my arms would ache for him. I was lucky I had two young children to hug and cuddle as much as they would let me but the nights were hard, so I used to cuddle a teddy, I needed to hold something in my arms. I used to love the first 2-3 seconds of waking in the morning, they were peaceful and then I would remember he was dead and the pain would slam into me and then I needed to get through my day.
Time does heal (to a point) but it took years longer than I thought. I have always been able to look after my children; I have slowly built up my business; I still have a strong relationship with my husband and I maintained brilliant friendships but my mental health has suffered – anxiety and panic have become familiar and, at times, I can feel very fragile. I keep very busy and distracted, otherwise the pain is just too much.
However I also love life, I love a lot in life and I can appreciate many of the small, simple things in life which make me feel happy, loved and safe. I am also very lucky.
I work with expectant and new parents almost every day, my little business has grown as my kids have grown and as I have grown stronger. I love my work, I am dedicated and passionate about the support I can provide. I can be asked how I can do it, when I have lost a baby, how can I be surrounded by them? And I guess the answer for me is pretty simple – he was my baby, no one else’s and he is separate from all the other parents and babies I see. When he died I did initially question if I would ever be able to return to working with parents but I didn’t want to lose my work as well as my child so, when I was ready, I made my return and, over the last ten years I have completed more training to extend the range of support I can offer parents. There’s never been a conflict and I wouldn’t do it if I thought I couldn’t do my job properly.
My work, along with my children, provides me with an enormous sense of pride and fulfilment. Being able to work with parents the way I do feels like an honour and it rarely feels like work at all!