Written by Sarah Pridham, mum of Jasper, for Still Aware.
This is a personal blog by Sarah Pridham and Still Aware acknowledge this may be sensitive to some readers. This blog does not reflect the views of Still Aware, however, we are sensitive to understand this blog does depict the turmoil some bereaved parents endure and there are many faces of grief. Still Aware want you to know you are not alone.
“A meaningful life is not being rich, being popular, being highly educated, or being perfect. It’s about being real, being humble, being able to share ourselves and touch the lives of others” – Author Unknown.
Well this is a blog that I could probably write a book about. The meaning of life, or the meaning of my life – what is it?
I continually ask myself that question and continually come up with no clear answer. I really didn’t think about the meaning of life until several months after the loss of our son, then it was (and still is) something that I think about quite a fair bit. Before I start to go into what my thoughts and opinions are, I will first share some of my research findings around this topic.
When I typed into Google “the meaning of life”, Wikipedia popped up with this answer and explanation – “The meaning of life, or the answer to the question “What is the meaning of life?”, pertains to the significance of living or existence in general. The search for life’s meaning has produced much philosophical, scientific, theological and metaphysical speculation throughout history. Different people and cultures believe different things for the answer to this question”.
The article then continues with – “the meaning of life as we perceive it is derived from philosophical and religious contemplation of, and scientific inquiries about existence, social ties, consciousness and happiness. Many other issues are also involved such as symbolic meaning, ontology, value, purpose, ethics, good and evil, free will, the existence of one or multiple gods, conceptions of God, the soul and the afterlife”.
I guess from this article I took two key words that mean a lot to me when asking the question about the meaning of life, and those two words are valueand purpose. We need to understand our values, purpose and potential to even try to begin to answer or even understand this question. They say there are three main questions to consider when contemplating the meaning of your own life;
What is important to me?
What am I truly good at?
What is my potential?
Personally, the first of those three questions is what this blog is about, – What is important to me?Well, the meaning of my life (or what is important to me) changed in 2017. I never had even considered thinking about life this way or the meaning of it.
Many things changed the day I found out I was pregnant, and the meaning of my life was one of those. Suddenly the meaning of my life was crystal clear – nothing else in the world mattered other than our child, any decision that I would make would be around our child and what was the best outcome for their life, the centre of my universe shifted and the meaning of my life was now to live for our son, to make sure that I was the mother that he deserved.
Then the meaning of my life was yet again changed 38 weeks later when we lost him forever. The questions that I couldn’t answer started coming – what is the meaning of my life now? What am I here for? What do I do? What is the point of working to pay bills and the mortgage, to cook and clean just to repeat everything the following week?
Life was left with no real purpose other then to get through one day at a time and to just repeat the same routine the following day.
Just over a year and a half later, and this is still a topic that I think about often – I still haven’t found the meaning of my life since the loss of our son. A day is just a day, a job is just a job, a bill is just a bill – but in the end, none of it has any real purpose.
I mean if we really sit down and think about it as clearly as we can, what is the point of life? We work hard to earn money that pretty much goes straight to paying bills, and we do it all again the next week. We do this repeatedly as well as experience hurt, pain, loss and grief and then in the end we just simply die – like we didn’t exist at all.
So why do we bother in the first place? Is the meaning of life really to have no meaning in the end at all? I don’t have the answers to these questions (I wish I did). Children give our lives purpose – children are the meaning of life – so when our children are taken away, our meaning and purpose of life is stripped away as well.
When you lose a baby, your entire world turns completely upside down – the meaning of life changes as well (this is how I feel anyway). Sometimes I feel like I know what the meaning of my life is and sometimes I believe I am still trying to find it.
When you lose a baby, you must find your feet in the world again, you must find a new version of you, you also must find a new meaning of life. All I know is that I now try to live my life for our son’s memory – I guess for me the meaning of my life is to make sure that he is always remembered, honoured and included in all that we do.
I try to take the steps that he is unable to take, I try to live a life that he would be proud of, I try to continue to move through each day because that is what he deserves – a mother who is willing to still fight to keep his memory alive, rather than a mother who gives up because grief and loss is a hard and lonely journey to walk .
So, what is the meaning of my life now? The meaning of my life is to honour our son, to remember him, to love him, to include him in our life and to still be the mother that he deserves. Maybe one day my life with have a clearer meaning, but for now this is the meaning of my life.
I found a quote that I find sums up the meaning of life following such a tragic loss – “Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass…it’s about learning to dance in the rain” – Author Unknown.
I hope that all bereaved parents can learn how to dance in the rain (or in the thunderstorm of baby loss) and therefore I hope that you all find your new meaning of life as well. Life will never be the same, but we can still manage to find meaning and purpose, we are still parents to the babies that we have lost. Our experiences following loss is what shapes our new meaning of life.