Written by Sarah Pridham, mum of Jasper, for Still Aware.
Continuing from my previous blog about the life lessons that I have learnt since the loss of our son, here is Life Lesson #3.
One simple word, GRIEF – and what a word this is. The real definition of grief is ‘intense sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death’. But for me, a bereaved mother, there is so much more meaning to this word than just this short and simple definition.
What does the word GRIEF mean to me? Well, I will grieve for a lifetime. Period. There is no ‘getting over it’, no solution, no fix to my heartache. There is no end to the ways or how long I will grieve and no going back in time. For as long as I breathe, I will grieve, ache and love our son with all my heart and soul.
Most people out there (those that have not been through the terrible, tragic loss of a child) do not understand how much is involved in grief and they truly just look at it as one simple, small word. They don’t understand that grief is actually a very long and tiring journey – a journey with many different paths (not just one short road).
Grief becomes part of everyday life for a bereaved parent. Just like a normal person has breakfast or goes to work, a normal day for a bereaved parent is facing some form of the grief monster at some point in their day. Maybe it is the moment that they wake up in the morning and realise that they have to get through another day without their baby, maybe it is driving to work and passing a school and realising that they can never drop their child off, maybe it is when they lie in bed at night, in complete darkness and silence and as they drift off to sleep they realise that even though they managed to get through the day, they have to wake up in the morning to face yet another day without their baby. This is the journey of life after baby loss. It is something that truly stays with you forever and is in every aspect of your life for the rest of your life.
Baby loss isn’t like most other life situations that you can move passed – if you have a bad job you can look for a new one and let the bad one go, if you are in a bad relationship you can leave and that weight is lifted off your shoulders, but with baby loss that weight stays on your shoulders every moment that you live after the loss itself. It is there walking with you every moment for the rest of your life. The only difference is that because you have to learn to live with it, it does become easier to live with. But you are never the same and life is never the same.
One of the best ways to describe the grief that comes with baby loss is through this quote that I found:
“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim” – Vicki Harrison.
The only way to get through the immense grief and pain of baby loss is to learn to accept that the grief will always be there, that it will be calm sometimes and other times it will consume us and be overwhelming. As much as it hurts, it will pass (even if only for a minute or two) and these waves of grief are completely normal parts of the grief process itself.
There will never come a time when I won’t think of the person our son would be, what he would look like, what he would have achieved and what personality he would have had.
I wish people would understand that grief lasts forever because love lasts forever. That the loss of a child is not one event, but a continuous loss that unfolds minute by minute for a lifetime. There is no other way to explain the real grief caused by the loss of a child – really it is quite simple to explain because as I have previously mentioned, you have lost the only thing that matters to you more than your own life.
“Grief, I’ve learned is really just love. Its all the love you want to give but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go” – Jamie Anderson.