Written by Jasper’s mum, Sarah, for Still Aware.
“Child loss is not an event; it is an indescribable journey of Survival” – Author Unknown.
I am sure that everyone is aware of the quote out there (it is a very common one) and seems to be plastered around everywhere I look – “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey” – I think this quote must have been written by someone who never experienced great loss. It really is amazing how you can go through a personal experience and it can change your complete outlook on life, or in this case, my outlook on a simple quote and what that quote means to me. I used to think it was a nice little quote before I experienced the loss of our son, then I changed – I couldn’t stand to see it or to read it, the words meant something completely different to me. I’m not sure if I laugh at the words or if its more like the words are laughing at me!
So, what is my point regarding talking about this quote?! Well, it’s simple (in my mind anyway) – there is no destination in the journey of baby loss, and there is certainly no destination when it comes to life after loss. Before I keep writing the rest of this blog, I just want to take a moment to describe what the meaning of the word destination is – destination can describe where you are going, or a place that is known for a particular purpose. So now I have described that, what do I mean by any of this?!
Well, with baby loss there is no destination in the journey – there is no destination of the journey of the loss itself – and there is certainly no destination with the journey of life after loss – there is no end point to this journey, no destination in sight. This is exactly why this quote annoys me so much – life after the loss of a baby isn’t about the destination in any way, shape or form, because there is no destination – ever. It’s simply about the long, painful, exhausting journey that we will continue to walk for the rest of our lives.
There is no destination because baby loss and life after loss is nothing but one never ending, long journey – the journey of surviving, of keeping your feet moving forward. Because we will always have a missing piece in our lives, an empty space in those family photos, those family holidays (and everything else in between) we learn to keep moving forward on our journey but we end up with no destination in sight because no matter what we do, our lives will never end up with the destination that we had once imagined for ourselves.
Following the loss of our son, I really found (and still find) that I have been left with no real journey – I used to have things that I imagined I would achieve, goals I guess you could say, but this completely changed for me, instead I just continue to live day by day – not really aiming at achieving certain goals or dreams. It almost feels like a trance-like state where you know you are moving forward and that life is continuing around you, but you just sail on straight through the middle of it all, not having a destination in sight. I guess for me, every morning that I wake up and start a new day, my destination is just making it through another day (for it to all repeat again the next day).
It makes me wonder why I have these sorts of feelings and views now, when they used to be so completely different – I think that because children give us meaning to our lives, because they give our lives purpose, when you lose them you also lose all of that meaning and purpose. When you lose the only thing that matters to you more than life itself, it really leaves you in complete limbo – left with having no real meaning or purpose to the rest of your life’s journey.
“For someone grieving moving forward is the challenge. Because after extreme loss you want to go back” – Author Unknown. This quote, for me, sums up another part of the journey of baby loss – moving forward is the challenge. No matter how heartbreaking the loss itself may have been, I always find myself wishing that I could still go back in time, back to that moment – how different the moment could have been if I had the knowledge I now have. It sounds crazy to want to go back, however, this would mean I would get to hold my son again, I would get to look down on his beautiful face and my arms would once again be full. I think I will always want to go back to that day – to have one more moment with my son, and every day that I continue to try to move forward there is that small tug constantly there of wanting to go back in time, back to my precious son, back to being a mother in the physical sense. Every day is a constant challenge – because every day means that I must continue to move further and further away from ‘the day that changed the rest of my life’.
It really is hard continuing forward with life when you have a never-ending journey of pain, grief, loss and hurt and so many people out there do not realise the many truths to just how hard and ongoing the journey of baby loss is – yes, it is a journey but it is not one that I ever imagined I would be facing or working through and it is not one I wish anyone else to go through. For anyone who is reading this blog but has never had to face baby loss themselves, here is a message for you: It is a journey that should not be judged by others – if you have never had to walk a similar journey then you do not have the right to judge how someone else gets through theirs. You do not know how you would handle it or react to it because you can not imagine the depths of the situation until you are faced with it yourself. It is not a situation that you can imagine because no one should ever have to face the loss of a baby, child or children – parents aren’t supposed to bury their children, it is supposed to be the other way around.
I can think of no stronger person in the world, than a mother who continues to face each day without one or more of her children by her side.
“Grief is a very long journey, a journey you take on your own. And no one can know all the sorrow you feel, for it is your sorrow alone. Grief if an awful intruder, it comes, and it stays night and day. And no one can look at the way you grieve, and then tell you”, No, this is the way”. – Author Unknown.
It may be a journey with no destination in sight, but it is your journey – be strong and do it your way.