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Life Chez Dee Episode #104: What not to say

This probably isn’t the best time for me to be writing this piece. I’m angry. I’ve totally had it with people who say the most offensive things to me. It happens so often, far too often quite frankly.

I’d actually just been talking with friends about some of the horrid remarks which have been said to me these last few years, and I don’t know if this conversation tempted fate, but later the same afternoon … wham! Another one was hurled at me, quite consciously and quite pointedly, which I found totally unacceptable.

Some comments are made clumsily, but without any offence being meant, and yet very hurtful. And so whilst being hurt, I then have to stand and listen to the rubbish which is spouted, and if it is offensive, and I try and move away, or say that I don’t want to hear this, then it is I who is left feeling guilty and in a position where I’m expected to apologise for pointing out the offensive remark.

Some comments were made in the days and weeks following Edward’s death, when it was all still very raw, and when I really wasn’t in any fit state to have to cope with listening to utter tripe or having to defend myself and my family. Even in the first few days after Edward died I had to listen to “Well at least you have the other boys!”, “Oh well, these things happen don’t they!” and “You need to stop crying because it isn’t fair on the other boys!”

They still sit with me today. Really unhelpful and incredibly unkind comments. I’m in no doubt that I won’t be the only bereaved mother who has heard this sort of thing, in fact I know I’m not, and for that reason I feel the need to clarify a few things for those who are ignorant enough to need this clarification.

Yes I have other children. Having other children does not make losing my child any better or easier to tolerate … fact. I have 3 children, and always will have three children, who I love, and always will love equally. Losing a child is not like breaking a plate, and throwing it away, not having to worry as there are more in the cupboard! Maybe think about which of your children you'd like to live without!

I don’t want a dog. You may like your canine friends around, but I don’t really want a dog, and I really don’t think a dog is something I’d like to get because I’ve lost Edward. I don’t want to replace him with a pet. And whilst we’re on the subject of pets, losing a child is not better than losing a pet! Read that again!

I didn’t feel better after getting the first year out of the way. It has now been four years since Edward died and there isn’t a day goes by that I don’t think of him, and laugh, and cry, or both. There isn’t a day that I don’t talk to Edward. Four years on and I am still facing years without my boy. I miss out on him growing up and all those other milestones which others are able to celebrate with their children, and the milestones I celebrate with my own children, Edward isn’t there.

Time does not heal. Time allows me to become accustomed to the pain I endure. I get used to it. There are still days which are unbearable, but I have learned to hide them, and smile through them; it makes things more comfortable for others. I live each and every day for my children … all three of my children.

I actually like seeing Oliver wearing Edward’s clothes. Oliver is actually very proud to wear his brother’s clothes, and for me I catch a glimpse of the trousers, or the t-shirt, and for a split second I see my boy again and relive those precious memories. I like to go to the same places on holiday, and the same places we went to with Edward, again they hold special memories for us all.

I really don't think Edward was taken from me as payment for all my sins.

I’m not strong. I carry on with life because I have no other choice. I did not choose for my child to die and I have to endure this pain on a daily basis. The pain is unbearable and unimaginable, but I bear it because I have to. I go through life with this weight that I carry now, because that’s what happened to me, and I have a beautiful family who need me.

I will not get over the death of my child … ever. It is, was, and always will be grief.

I haven’t taken antidepressants, no. That’s because I am not depressed, I am a bereaved mother. I’m not saying they’re not good for others, I’m saying they’re not good for me and they won’t fix me. Pills will make me numb so I don’t feel the pain, but the pain is still there when the pills aren’t. Don’t tell me what I need when you really have no idea what I need. And as for speaking to my doctor, my experience was not good, and if that is help then I’m better without it.

Those who kept insisting I needed to speak to a counsellor, just a few weeks after Edward died, I didn’t. When I spoke to a counsellor, it was when I wanted to speak, and let me tell you that it is to talk about not just Edward dying, but all the pressures, comments and judgments from others.

When I talk about Edward, it’s because I love him, and I talk about him as I would talk about my other children with love and pride.

When you tell me that I need to move on, what you’re actually telling me is that you’re fed up of hearing about my pain. I am moving, I am living, and my life now exists with Edward still in it, but rather than his physical presence, his spirit is with me always.

Yes I was indeed a charitable person before Edward died.

I don’t want to stop doing the charity work in Edward’s name. This is how I now live my life with my child by my side. This is me turning the most unimaginable trauma into something positive. It’s good for me, and it’s good for others … you’re welcome!

When you say “I can’t imagine what you’re going through.” You can’t. Be thankful you can’t.

I have watched my child fighting for his life and watched as he took his last breath. I held my child in my arms as he turned cold, and I kissed his freezing lips. I picked out a coffin and went to visit my child whilst he lay there in that coffin. I sat in front of the coffin with my child inside, at his funeral, and I watched it being lowered into the grave. I will never hear my child’s voice, or laughter, an “I love you” said again. I will never be able to see my child and look into his eyes ever again. Imagine that.

Imagine going through the trauma of losing a child, and then being judged at all times. Why did Edward die? What did I do wrong? What did I miss? People asking those questions, as it truly is quite unimaginable that a healthy child can be here one day and gone the next. They ask question after question, because somehow the blame must lie with us, maybe we didn’t do all we could. Because it is incomprehensible. It’s incomprehensible to me too … still!

Now imagine hearing all those awful comments. Please don’t tell me how I should do this, and ought to do that. Shoulds and oughts can fuck right off, and indeed the people who spout them.

Have we not gone through enough? Is it not enough that we are crippled with pain, that our child is dead, that our lives were turned upside down, inside out and shaken about. We didn’t just lose our child, but also others, those who were close, some not quite as close … those who couldn’t, or wouldn’t stick around. Is that too our fault?

To be honest, from hearing what other bereaved mothers have said, I think we’ve not been subjected to as much as others, perhaps because I have been so open and honest, and tried to help so many more in the midst of our own pain.

I am not the person I was before Edward died. The trauma has changed me to the point I don’t always recognise myself. I still cannot quite believe that Edward has gone … forever.

by Elizabeth Dee

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