What grief looks like…

“Sweet Emma. Two years… 732 days since you were alive, and you still occupy almost all my thoughts, influence my decisions, creep into our everyday lives. Your toothbrush and toothpaste is still next to mine in the cupboard, your toilet seat standing ready, your towel hanging – waiting. Clothes I never packed away, folded up in our room. Your room – exactly as you left it, your clothes still hanging in your cupboard.”

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This is what grief looks like to us. But what is important to understand, is that our grief probably looks different to someone else’s. They might have moved, changed their child’s room, given away everything – because that is how they grieve.

Grief is also not something that goes away – we don’t stop grieving but how we grieve can change. Emma’s room might one day become something else. I might one day give her things away. One day, I might have the courage to pack away her toothbrush… But for now I grieve with her things around me.

Do not judge the mother (or father) who keeps everything as it was. Likewise, the parent who moves or changes everything. Please do not tell them that how they are grieving is wrong – there is no wrong here, just pain.  Do not rush them into making decisions they will regret.

And fellow grieving parents – do what you need to, to survive grieving the loss of your child. Do what honours them but also what keeps you going. Do not allow yourself to be rushed into doing something your gut tells you you are not ready for.

I also feel I should share a thought that crossed my mind yesterday. I have a question to ask those of you who are fortunate enough to not have experienced child-loss. I would like you to look at your children tonight and imagine that one is no longer there. (I know this makes you uncomfortable but please try.) Imagine that you one of your precious children (or possibly your only child) has died. Think about what you would do or feel – actually entertain those emotions. The reason I ask is that you might better grasp what the grieving parent feels.

No two people grieve the same, regardless of what or who they have lost.However, when you talk to someone who has also lost their mom, you have an understanding. When I talk to another grieving parent, I can say I get it without sounding fake. Use your understanding of grief (because we have all lost something or someone) and love those who are grieving around you, regardless of how their grief might look.

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6 thoughts on “What grief looks like…

  1. As always your words draw out the feeling deep inside that many of us cannot put into words ourselves.  Thank you, LoveDad by choice

    Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

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  2. You are a very special lady, you have not wasted your sorrow and are a inspiration and comfort to others who are grieving

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  3. I have been thinking about both of you all day ( I know our 13th of September doesn’t coincide directly with the SA day, but that means you get an extra 8 hours of being thought about and prayed for). Strange, but as I was tucking Abigail and Yael in to bed last night, I tried to imagine exactly what you asked us to try in your blog. My imagination just won’t let me push it that far. As much as I want to try to imagine what I know you and Michael are still going through, my brain won’t allow me to imagine such pain. I hope that doesn’t make me a “bad” sister in law but I remember in one of your earlier blogs you wrote something like “don’t say that you know how I feel because that would mean you have a child with cancer and I wouldn’t wish that on anybody”. There is part of me that would like to be able to imagine so I can better empathise with you and Michael and there is part of me that doesn’t want to because I know it must hurt like crazy! If it is a small consolation, I have come across so many patients who have lost children (across the lifespan of both parents and children) and the closer glimpse I have had into the awful unnaturalness of losing a child has helped me better understand and comfort them(as far as that is possible) in their grief. My thoughts are still with you, every day, not just on Special days”. Love and prayers. Shirley

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