It’s Baby Loss Awareness Week, a week for raising awareness about pregnancy and baby loss and also a time to reflect and remember our lost children.
Baby Loss Awareness Week culminates in the ‘Wave of Light’ at 7pm on Thursday 15th October. We’ll be thinking of you and all your beautiful children – young and old this week.
And here’s a few articles that we’ve stumbled across that are particularly pertinent this week (and after):
’10 things you need to know when someone’s baby dies’ from Scary Mommy
‘How to talk to children about miscarriage and stillbirth’ from What’s Your Grief
There’s also a range of baby loss articles on our articles page.
Father’s Day is one of the many days that the loss of a child feels even more profound. Although as bereaved parents are keenly aware, a child’s absence is felt every day.
The amazing blog ‘What’s your grief?’ asked fathers to share their Father’s Day grief and their responses will resonate with bereaved dads at SLOW and beyond.
Here’s the full article and a selection of their responses:
You will always have that open space in your soul, for that’s where you store the memories.
You will never truly be done grieving; you will learn to live and cope.
There will come a day when you will look back and see the goods before the bads.
I am an amputee, a father without a son. THAT is my new normal.
I may look the same as before Kylie died but I’m a different man altogether.
The weight of loss never goes away, we just learn to carry it.
And for the non-bereaved, how should you acknowledge Father’s Day? Our advice from SLOW is if you know a grieving dad, pay them a visit or make that phone call to tell them that you are thinking about them and their child.
Be kind to yourself on Father’s Day and if you need support the SLOW support groups are open to all that have lost a child and parents can come at any time after the death of their child. For times and dates of forthcoming SLOW support groups link here.
Mother’s Day can be particularly painful if you have lost a child and even more so if you have lost your only child.
This article from the amazing blog ‘What’s Your Grief’ was written two years ago but it’s definitely worth revisiting on this difficult day.
‘What’s Your Grief?’ asked their readers to help them write a post in anticipation of Mother’s Day and together nearly 100 bereaved parents offered their thoughts. Their collective wisdom was compiled to write a heartfelt letter to bereaved mothers. Here are some beautiful insights:-
It is excruciating knowing that my child will never return to my arms. However, a mother’s love for her child doesn’t require physical presence.
I actually am normal. I’m just different now. I believe those who say they want to support me on difficult days like Mother’s Day, but part of this is accepting me as a grieving mother who will always love her deceased child.
On the one hand, I feel immense joy because I was blessed with my child and I feel gratitude for every moment I was given with them. On the other hand, the pain of missing my child – my greatest happiness, my life’s purpose, and my best friend – is intense.
This day will forever be hard for me. I live with an emptiness that no one can fill; so I may be sad, I may be unsociable, and I may need to take a break to be by myself in a quiet place. Whatever shape my grief takes on this day, please allow me to feel the way I feel and please follow my lead.
I can sense that people feel uncomfortable talking about my child and I constantly feel like the elephant in the room, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Honestly, I find it really comforting when someone talks about my child.
Be kind to yourself on Mother’s Day and if you need support the SLOW groups are open to all that have lost a child. For times and dates of forthcoming SLOW support groups link here.
One of the best pieces of advice I received from the SLOW group when I was in the deep, dark, depths of grief after my daughter died was… to be kind to myself. For me, being told that it was ok not to be at the coalface of grief all the time was really helpful. Grieving a lost child is hard, hard work so giving yourself a few minutes of respite from the pain is sometimes the only way to get through a day. And… the grief was always there again at the end of my distracting task…
This article from the fantastic blog ‘What’s Your Grief?’ gives seven helpful tips on how to practice self-kindness. Here’s some snippets:-
1. Don’t compare
Try not to compare yourself to your expectations. In fact, it can be helpful to let go of your expectations about grief entirely.
2. Accept that a wide range of emotional, physical, and cognitive experiences are normal in grief
Having a narrow conceptualization of what is normal in grief often causes people to feel like they’re not doing as well as they ought to or, worse, like they’re completely losing it.
3. Give distressing emotions and experiences the time and attention they need
The only thing that would help is to acknowledge the pain and find ways to take care of yourself and heal.
4. Ask for help
You’ve experienced a major hardship and now is the time for you to let others take care of you.
5. Focus on basic needs
If you are able to meet some of your most basic needs, you’ll be in a better position physically and emotionally to deal with your other more complex and nuanced stressors.
6. Give yourself a break
While many people think coping with life after loss is only about confronting and coping with difficult grief emotions, we believe that coping encapsulates anything that helps you feel better and gives you a boost of positive emotion
7. Love the person who died unapologetically
What we know about grief is that an ongoing love and attachment is totally normal! So, go ahead and talk about your loved one as much as you want, do all the little things that keep you close, and, by all means, love them apologetically.
The SLOW support groups give our bereaved parents a chance to talk to other parents that have been through the devastating loss of a child. The groups are open to all that have lost a child and parents can come at any time after the death of their child. For times and dates of forthcoming SLOW support groups link here.
The lovely Rob Delaney was interviewed by Russell Howard about his grief and his beautiful memories of Henry as he approaches his one-year anniversary.
Rob talks about how bereavement groups can support parents that have lost a child and how it’s helpful to meet bereaved parents that are ‘further on’ in their grief:
I galloped to the first bereaved parents meeting, let me fill my emotions with people who are judging and who know what it’s like….I talk to other parents who’ve lost kids and they say that as time goes on, and it can take a lot of time, that what happens when they think about their child that died, the first thing they feel is really happy.
And he gives advice to the non-bereaved…. What should someone say to a bereaved parent?
At SLOW we know this is a minefield for the non-bereaved but in our experience we find that, more than anything, bereaved parents want to desperately talk about their son or daughter that died:-
What I would say to someone in that situation is, and it’s not one size fits all. If you know somebody who’s lost a big one, like a sibling, a child, a spouse or something. They’re, you’re thinking about that person, I’m thinking about Henry… so if you colme up to me and say “Hey I heard it’s about a year since your son passed away’. You didn’t bring him up, I was already thinking aobut him and you allowed me to talk about him and think about him and that to me is such a pleasure. I’m not tying to put a verbal band aid on anyone’s grief so you can also try and relax because there is nothing you can say that will fix it but you should acknowledge it.
Which reminds me of my all-time favourite grief quote from Elizabeth Edwards:
Rob summed up his grief by talking about how love and grief are intertwined:-
The reason it hurts so much is because of how much I love him. Grief and love are really weaved together. So, I should be sad right now.
At SLOW we provide a safe space to share and talk to other bereaved parents about the pain of losing a child. All bereaved parents are welcome, at any time after the death of their child. All our groups are facilitated by bereaved parents.
For more information on our forthcoming groups click here.
SLOW member, Rob Delaney, gives a truthful and powerful portrayal of Henry’s terminal illness and the horrific heartbreak that followed his death and the effect on his family. It’s a truly beautiful article that is brave and honest. For the full article click here, to access the article you can register for free (or subscribe) to the Sunday Times.
Whenever anyone asks Delaney how he is, they tend to add hastily, “Oh my God, that’s a stupid question.” No, it isn’t, he tells them — “If you’re ready to hear the answer. The answer is my heart hurts, OK? I had trouble getting out of bed today, and I cried before I got up. And then I had a cup of coffee, played with my other kids, came and said hello to my wife, and then I started to feel better. Then I got sad again. So I love that question. I tell people, I’m a balloon that is filled almost to the point of bursting, and when you bring up my dead son, it’s like you’ve let a little out. It’s like a gift.”
Are people ready to hear that answer? “Not everybody, but I don’t care. I’m an ambassador from the f****** other side now, and I feel a bit of a responsibility, being in the public eye, to show people what grief looks like.” He pauses for a moment to reflect. “It’s just so weird to me how we deny grief, how we shut it out.”
In this moving article Rob also talks about the SLOW groups and the support they have given him and his family:
We live on a lunar outpost now. Except on this lunar outpost, there are other [bereaved] parents. There are good people here, but we are different.” Delaney and his wife attend a group for bereaved parents. “Which is just such a sacred experience. The amount they help us is truly staggering. And I didn’t have to be coaxed into it, because I knew the power of sitting around in a group and talking about a problem.”
SLOW understands that is it vitally important for bereaved parents to verbalise the pain, talk about what happened, share their child and ask questions – sometimes over and over – with other parents that understand. SLOW support groups are here for bereaved parents weeks, months or even years after the death of a child. All our groups are facilitated by bereaved parents. For more information on our forthcoming groups click here