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Loss of a child - anniversary drag ...

(66 Posts)
Imperfect27 Tue 22-Aug-17 09:38:28

I am not a 'maudlin' person. I know I don't wallow in grief and I have been blessed and built a happy life since losing my DD2 in a car accident. But no matter how 'healthily ' we grieve, if we grieve the loss of a child / children, some bits of grief are unresolvable and some pain resurfaces from time to time, most typically around the anniversaries of loss and 'missed' birthdays.

Nearly 11 years on from losing my DD2 - end of this week - I am conscious of a returning feeling of fragility that manifests itself in different ways. I am aware of a lower stress threshold, poor sleep, returning anxiety about close family members (it was a sudden traumatic loss and 2 children also in the accident have suffered PSTD in the past so always sensitive to this being reawakened at anniversary times), I tend to lack energy and on the actual day and for a day or two before/after, I often feel like I carry a weight on my chest - as if someone had hold of my heart and is squeezing it from time to time.

I put managing strategies in place - the family gathered this weekend and it was lovely to be around each other, I am visiting a son on the day - travelling by train to remove the driving stress - and it won't be a 'sad' visit where we need to prop each other up, but just nice to see each other. This week I will also visit and tidy her grave, make a point of wearing blue (her favourite colour), burn some candles and enjoy getting out some photos /rotating ones that are on display. I have some DVD footage of her, but may not feel able to watch it - just depends. AND I will cut myself some slack and be as gentle with myself as I can be ...

The rituals will vary, but I think my reactions must be fairly typical for many who have lost a close family member - maybe especially a child / in traumatic circumstances. The heightened feelings of stress and all that come with it do pass ... over the years this has improved too. I used to feel bad for maybe 2-3 weeks before and after and now it is just a few days before and then seems to lift almost immediately afterwards. I have planned a busy day for the day after so that I don't 'dwell' too much ...

I am not posting for sympathy - I know there is plenty of that - but to raise the point that for those of us who grieve a close loved one, we need to take good care of ourselves at particular time each year around anniversary times and to cut ourselves some slack when we don't feel 100%.. We are not 'stuck' in our grief. or suffering from any particular crisis, it is simply hard.

And for those of you who are close to someone who has lost a child, please do not stay silent for fear of upsetting ... speak their name, show you remember them too. It really does help to feel that our loved ones are not forgotten as the years pass.

Anya Tue 22-Aug-17 10:10:18

I recognise this awful feeling that reawakens all the pain and grief, and I know others on this forum will too. There are so few who understand that we would welcome the chance to talk about our loved ones. Mainly we learn to keep quiet, for fear of upsetting or embarrassing others and keep it all inside.

May this anniversary pass in peace flowers

Imperfect27 Tue 22-Aug-17 10:27:29

Yes Anya , we do keep silent ourselves so as not to make others feel uncomfortable and yet that can make us feel more alone and isolated in our grief as time passes.

I VERY rarely use facebook to post and I don't post about grief there as it seems to me it is simply not the right kind of forum for such depths, with one exception: one day recently I did spontaneously post about my DD2 - a very positive post about how we (close knit circle of family / friends I post to) could all gain something from the memory of how kind and loving she was. I had such beautiful replies - people shared memories of her that did my heart good and left me feeling she hasn't been forgotten after all.

In my experience, older generation family /friends don't talk about grief - it is a bit of a taboo subject - and they seem to think it is something to 'get over'. Others, of my age, seem to need permission to speak of her and remain silent because they do not want to upset me. Sometimes, though rare, I have had open conversations and I have said 'Well, I may cry, but that is okay and it is good to hear her name and know she hasn't been forgotten...' and I don't ever 'break down' into convulsive sobs.

I just think there must be so much silent grief out there because people don't want to say the wrong thing. To preface a conversation with 'Do you mind of I talk about ... ' just to test the waters, could open so many conversations that could help both sides.

Luckygirl Tue 22-Aug-17 10:28:07

A sad but illuminating post that hopefully will help others to recognise the validity of their ongoing grief and to allow themselves time and space to do what feels right for them on these painful anniversaries without allowing themselves to be told they should be "over it" after all this time. Thank you for this post. flowers

peaches50 Tue 22-Aug-17 11:06:40

my darling father died suddenly before I could goodbye. We spoke very day and I missed that day as he had gone out to buy me somehting to pass on to my sister to give to me. Mum asked if he shoudl call back but I said no as I knew he'd want to callafter a lunch and tell me excatly what he had eaten (and shouldnt have - he was so naughty!). My sister and I were bereft and inconsolable until six months to the day I found a letter from him tucked into a birthday card in his papers. It was to me and said how proud he was of me and how he and mum loved the very bones of me. That is one of my treasured keep sake. I read it now and agian and the pain of loss has eased though I think of him, and others gone everyday. When my Mum died and then my sister I took comfort in writing a letter to them saying exaclty how much I loved them and how much they had made me the person I am. They couldnt read it but it comforted me. God bless all who grieve.

Imperfect27 Tue 22-Aug-17 11:16:27

peaches it is so hard when we have multiple losses to deal with - I lost my mum and dad within four years of losing my DD. I am glad you found the letter and have drawn comfort from writing your own. I often re-read cards to and from my DD. Like you, I lost her and my dad without being able to say goodbye. I think this is adds a layer of grief. I wrote a letter that went in my DD's coffin which helped me at the time.
You have made me think that I might try writing a letter to her again this anniversary - so much time has passed and the world is a different place, but I can imagine what she would have to say about so many things and that makes me smile.

Heartfelt condolences flowers

Imperfect27 Tue 22-Aug-17 11:16:49

Luckygirl, thank you xx

MawBroon Tue 22-Aug-17 11:30:07

You have written everything I could wish to say and despite not asking for or seeking sympathy you have mine, along with my gratitude for expressing so eloquently the feelings many of us share.
44years ago in October we lost our first baby son at the age of 3 weeks. Years of looking at little boys, bigger boys and our own 3 daughters followed, wondering what he would have been like. October comes and goes, I also feel fragile and shed yet more tears but know that that is my lot and how I cope is up to me.
You have devised "coping strategies" which work for you, nothing can take your pain away, you just become more able to handle it. I am full of admiration.
The "not talking" was the hardest thing for me, I was a mother but had no baby, people did not know what to say so they said nothing, avoiding the subject. It was as if he had been airbrushed out of our lives. How do you bring up the subject? I had one precious baby picture which clearly made some people uncomfortable. Ah well, with some friends it is "easy come, easy go" and they went.
What is that thing about life being not the cards you are dealt but how you play them?

Imperfect27 Tue 22-Aug-17 12:05:22

Mawbroon 'to be a mother, but with no baby' - well, I can only imagine how hard that must be. My heart goes out to you and others who have lost and grieve in ways that go unrecognised.

When my first DD was born, someone on the ward had lost her child during labour and she was placed just across the hall from the postnatal ward. I was so conscious for her that she must have been able to hear all the babies crying and see 'happy' comings and goings - seems so inhumane to me that she wasn't found a better space.

So often how we are helped - or not - at the point of loss stays with us and marks how we go on grieving. Sadly there often isn't enough awareness or support over the years.

flowers xx

Oriel Tue 22-Aug-17 13:02:39

Imperfect27 The loss of a child brings a pain like no other.

You describe so eloquently the pain and longing which accompanies every anniversary. I hope that this week passes gently for you and your family. xxx

lemongrove Tue 22-Aug-17 13:24:19

Well put Imperfect and you are absolutely right.
Nothing can be the same again, different yes, and not all bad yes, but there will be many times when you feel like this and you have obviously complete understanding about it.

Kupari45 Tue 22-Aug-17 15:04:28

First of all I want to remind you how much I appreciated your reply to me on this forum- 17 months ago. I posted about losing my lovely daughter to Cancer. Your reply and also that of others gave me a lot of comfort at the time. Your reply was filled with advice,and understanding of how distressed I was. So all I wanted to say is " I truly understand the feelings you expressed in todays post, and I'm thinking of you. It has been a hard 18 months, but I have learned that I musnt talk about my daughter or people become embarrassed and uncomfortable, and I have "lost" some friends because they are terrified I mention my daughters name. What a strange world we live in when we cant comfort a bereaved person .
The pain is there every day isnt it, however we learn to accept that this is how life will be now. I try to live a positive life, as my daughter would wish me to, but I find this new way of living difficult at times. I am thinking of you and your family as you come up to the 11 year mark without your little girl.

Imperfect27 Tue 22-Aug-17 15:55:16

Kupari thank you. It is lovely to hear from you. Eighteen months seems like a lifetime in some ways and in others still no time at all. I can honestly say the first two years are the worst - we think it must be the first year with all the first hurdles, but the second hits heavily as we slowly realise that we didn't just 'get through' something with a full stop, it goes on and on. BUT it really does get more manageable over time.

A great problem for us is that we lost what was 'normal' and it can never be recovered. Somehow we have to recreate it. And losing a child does rewrite all our relationships - family and friends - some just cannot cope and keep their distance and guilt can also compound the sense of silence - guilt that it wasn't them that lost - though we would never wish this on anyone.

I asked for the bereavement forum to be established and when I post, I do try to say 'this is how it is / has been' and this is what has helped - though our griefs are different and we all grieve in different ways. I know in the early weeks and months I needed to hear that I was not going mad. We need time and space and support to grieve - this is an ongoing process that we cannot put a time limit on. The tenth anniversary brought a new set of sadnesses for me to process.

But I also want to convey that there is hope, beyond what feels so utterly shattering. As I said earlier, I really have been blessed in life and have a loving DH (married 3 years now) who had the emotional depth and kindness to take me on even though a bit of me will never be whole again. And I have 3 beautiful children and now a lovely grandson. Nothing fills the gap, of course, but these are all great comforts in life and, though I never thought it could happen, I have been genuinely happy again.

And I know my loving DD would be glad for me xx

Anya Wed 23-Aug-17 07:21:30

It's strange isn't it that, just when you really need your friends, so few are there for you. And yet, others - who were perhaps not as close - surprise you.

It's true that after a loss so great you are never the same again. Yes, you can find happiness, true happiness but it alters you for ever.

Very few people have the courage to ask you to talk about your loved one. I'd like to ask Imperfect to tell us more about her lovely and loving daughter, but I'm aware this is a public forum so all I can say is you still have her in your heart, but then you know that already xx

Imperfect27 Wed 23-Aug-17 08:16:58

Ah Anya, as I posted the following on FB recently, it is already 'out there' so happy to oblige - though bear in mind, it has taken me all of the nearly eleven years to arrive at this place smile.

4th July 2017
Thought for my day ... when you lose a child, grieving is a constant factor. that doesn't mean the pain of grief is constant, but rather, they are never lost to your thoughts, never lost in the heart of what informs you in life. And this CAN be a positive. I like to think that something of Evelyn's natural brightness, her energy and enthusiasm, her beauty of mind and spirit, resonate in the lives of those of us who have loved her and not forgotten her. It is a strengthening thing to draw on her take on the world, her goodness and her humour, her mischief and her kindness.
Today is not a particular anniversary, just another day without her, but one where the sadness of missing her is outweighed by the smiles for all she was.
I very rarely post about Evelyn here, for obvious reasons, but just wanted to share these thoughts xx'

Anya Wed 23-Aug-17 12:18:48

That made me cry Imperfect and that's allowed, after all no one can see me. What a beautiful tribute to Evelyn.

Can I add a little something of my own, that will resonate with you, that I found after the death of my toddler grandson.

"There is one certain truth- even if I had known that there would ever come the cruel grief that I suffer today, I would endure it all again for the wonder of having had you in my life."

Imperfect27 Wed 23-Aug-17 12:44:08

Yes - that is so beautiful and so true. Tears in return - 'good' tears. Thank you Anya

suzied Wed 23-Aug-17 12:47:01

Such a lovely tribute. I've never lost a child, but my 16 year old niece died suddenly 4 years ago and have witnessed closehand what such a tragedy can do to a parent. As part of the wider family we grieve too, and will always miss her, but can get on with our lives in a way her mother cannot. ?

Anya Wed 23-Aug-17 12:47:29


Imperfect27 Thu 24-Aug-17 08:42:56

A nice thing ...

I visited a few charity shops yesterday. I am trying to upgrade my toy box to keep up with my 19-month-old GS's developments. He loves books and I found a really beautiful one for him. It is called 'Moon Dance' by Christian Riese Lossen and was published in Australia - so even more of a find I guess! It is a board book, full of 'sparkle' pictures of dolphins and a rhyme on each double page. It is just right word wise and I think the pictures - photos decorated with lots of sparkly colours, will really appeal (they did to me smile).
My DD2 loved dolphins and these remain emblematic to us for her. I am posting the book today with a little card for mum in the hope it will arrive tomorrow (DD2's anniversary day) and may be a nice way for DD1 to talk about 'Auntie Evie' to GS.
It's the little things that help! smile

nanaK54 Thu 24-Aug-17 09:04:56

That is a 'nice thing' and was meant to be - sending you flowers and sunshine

downtoearth Thu 24-Aug-17 09:07:24

I am another parent of two beautiful girls who died in different ways cheryl was born on 15th september 1978..and on 3rd dad died y weeks later...and katy by her own hand born 5.6.80 and died 03.01.04...I feel guilty cheryl rarely gets mentioned by others as she was in hospital all the time severely brain injured through mismanged delivery....kate left her legacy to me my beautiful Eisha, who is so like her mum in many ways...I talk about my girls whenever I can with my lovely son who this has deeply affected as his friend committed suicide within 3 years and my mum also died....I grieve quietly everyday I cannot cry I am numb..this weekend we will be visiting a friend whose daughter is throwing a party for 60th, her daughter is same age and was kates friend we havent seen her for 10years ..she will be a reminder of all that has been is true only those who have lost children can truly understand the silent pain....wishing you all peaceful times ...this is a clyb that no one ever wants to join flowers

Imperfect27 Thu 24-Aug-17 09:18:05

downtoearth we have exchanged posts before about multiple losses flowers flowers So sad. The loss of a child is so hard on the grandparents too - I am sure they grieve doubly because they cannot put things right for us as well as bearing their own sorrow.

I am glad for you that you have your Eisha xx

downtoearth Thu 24-Aug-17 09:36:35

Thank you imperfect yes we have spoken before and Eisha is a blessing but as Anya has said would rather have had them for a short while than never had at all ...and would I do it again yes I flowers

Imperfect27 Thu 24-Aug-17 22:45:38

Finally stirred my stumps today and went to the post office to send DGC the book. Yes, thank you nanaK it did feel 'meant to be' to find it. I know my daughter will make the link about the dolphins - I would LOVE to think that she begins to tell DGS about his auntie Evie sometime and this might be a way in, but simply said in a card that it made me think of her. I paid postage to ensure it will arrive tomorrow. Feels quietly comforting!

Looking forward to seeing my DS1 tomorrow in London. smile