Life Chez Dee Episode #116: Lost
I lost my voice recently. Not physically, but it could just as easily have been. There was so much I was thinking about, experiencing, processing that I needed to write about, but for one reason or another, I felt unable to put those thoughts, feelings and emotions into my writing, or at least writing I was able to publish. I was totally lost.
I know I don’t usually hold back; I’m more than aware that my writing is raw and from the heart, but I knew that the raw emotions I was experiencing were just too raw to expose to my readership. And I’ve struggled. I’ve struggled with processing and offloading these thoughts and emotions, and as such they are spiralling round and round in my head, increasing thoughts and feelings, not going anywhere, and gathering momentum and force as the days go by.
Writing is my hobby, but it’s also something I feel compelled to do. Something within me takes over and there is an overwhelming urge, a drive to write down all that is within me. Without this outlet for my thoughts, all that is in my head begins to manifest itself elsewhere, and consumes me wholly and entirely, physically, mentally, emotionally. Lately I have been confused and have struggled to see through the fog, my head so full that it begins to overflow into so much of my life; I have been overwhelmingly sad and have cried for days. I feel angry, resentful, confused, unwanted, invalid, unimportant, insignificant, lonely, teary, and guilty … guilty for what I am, and am not to others, and guilty for feeling this way. And I’m grieving still, the loss of my child, the loss of my then, now and what would be, the loss of relationships with so many family and friends, and the loss of self, who I was, am and would have been. And I have grieved the loss of my writing and as such the ability for me to process.
There have been a few things recently which have stirred up so many emotions for me, so much trauma which I thought I’d buried but has not just resurfaced, but has exploded out of the wound, and continued to ooze. I have felt the pain of Edward’s death over again, and I have relived every minute of that awful time.
Struggling to process my thoughts and emotions, I have shut myself away. I have taken a step back from some of my work, from my writing, from friends and family, from going out. I have been reclusive, unsure about my feelings, emotions, pain, trauma, needing to feel, not wanting to talk. To the friends who have reached out I thank you so much, and I apologise too for not wanting to talk, not wanting to meet up, just wanting to be alone and safe with my thoughts. And it’s taken time, not a day, or couple of days, but many days. I’m still processing, still hurting, still feeling, but I’ve finally found my voice again, and my ability to articulate some of that which I am feeling.
On top of all the emotions which came up for me, and my inability to write, I’ve also wrestled with should I even try to write. Should I speak about all I am feeling? Should I expose others to the pain of child loss and how it really doesn’t ever go away.
I know that every parent’s worst nightmare is the loss of a child, I know that those who are parents who read this piece will struggle with the unimaginable thoughts of ever having to endure the loss of a child, and I know for those who have lost a child, they lose their child all over again when they hear about the death of another. Everything comes back, from the shock, the sickness, the pain, the hurt, the numbness, the fog which clouds your brain completely. Every emotion, every memory, every conversation, every minute they relive of the death of their own child. They revisit it, remember it, sense it, feel it completely and utterly.
The silence needs to be broken. The death of a child is every parents’ nightmare and as a bereaved parent, the death of your child becomes part of every single day of your life forever. The pain is unbearable and needs to subside, but that too is another loss, and the pain and the grief, and the trauma and the memories, are a part of you, a part of your life, just as your child was a part of your life, and the connection to your child is still there, and still needed, and the connection to their death is still needed too, however raw and painful that is.
We appreciate so much that others do for us, and yet we feel guilty about that. We don’t want to ask for help, yet we need it … practical, emotional and financial. When Edward died, people reached out. They helped practically with food parcels, helping with the boys, sitting with me whilst I cried. I needed it, and yet I felt burdened with guilt. Money was given to us to help with the funeral costs, but we gave it away to charity, because although we appreciated and needed the help, we felt guilty taking it, and if I’m honest it felt as though a price had been put on Edward’s head.
Those days and weeks following Edward’s death were a blur to me, I couldn’t see straight, and thinking didn’t happen. It is only in the months afterwards, when people drift away, the memory of Edward’s death becomes more distant, they go back to their lives, life goes on. We’re told to go back to work, have some normality, and we oblige, as we need to make people feel that we agree with what is expected of us, rather than doing what we’re feeling obligated to do. I needed money, yet I just couldn’t bear to go back to work, I really struggled … even walking through the door as a customer took many weeks of psyching myself and having to be supported before I could physically enter that place of work, let alone being face to face with customers.
My focus was Edward, my constant drive was Edward, and the charity, and doing some good, and making something positive come out of the most horrific thing imaginable. I wanted to do, I wanted to keep Edward with me, I wanted to help others, I wanted to say Edward’s name, I wanted him remembered, I wanted him to have a legacy.
I begged for help from the public to help support me with my charity work, I managed to get some help from several business owners to sponsor me in pursuing my charity work; kind charities and individuals bought us a gravestone for Edward, and a bench for us to sit on when we visited him. My work is still the charity, my income is £0 and that is still a problem really … a problem financially, and a problem emotionally as I have the guilt of asking for help, the guilt of accepting help, and the guilt of working in a job which brings in no money for the family.
I feel as though I have been carrying a heavy load for a long time now, and I really needed to speak out about this. I needed to speak, I needed to write, I needed to break the silence and break the cycle of holding back. I sat and drafted a few times but stopped over and over wanting to say things and yet stopped. I felt selfish for having the feelings I did. What will people think? What will they say? And because of this I invalidate my feelings even more.
I know I won’t be alone with these thoughts, but the raw desperation and darkness we so often find ourselves in is so rarely spoken about. I think about all the people I know who are bereaved parents … and there are so many; so many who also have days which crush them.
Sadly I know many people whose children have died, through accident, injuries, road accidents, sudden deaths and deaths after a long illnesses. The death of a child is traumatic, difficult, painful, whatever the circumstances. The journey of a bereaved parent is painful, pain beyond the comprehension of many who should never even try and imagine what that feels like, as even the imagining of this is too painful, and it is infinitely worse than your imagination can even try and comprehend. Be thankful you don’t understand. So many hurting; so many needing help and support. All of us wanting our lives back, the old normal, not the new normal.
I appreciate those we have around us, and keep them close. I try and make memories with the family as we go forward, whilst still remembering and keeping Edward part of our family, and we all remember and smile through the unquantifiable pain. And let us not forget the siblings left behind too, and how much they hurt, and how much they want to escape their normality and reality and go away somewhere, hide away somewhere, and just be safe with the family they have left.
Nothing can make things right again, or will ease our pain, apart from someone bringing our children back. We struggle with returning to work, holidays, anniversaries, and the ordinary everyday things. Every day when we’re not even able to explain the overwhelming and debilitating grief of that particular day. Every day is different, every day the memories are different, the pain is different, the emotions are different. The fog clears on the majority of days now, breathing returns without feeling crushed and gasping for air. But those waves still keep crashing and they knock me completely off my feet when they come.
For me it is just over four years since Edward died, and I function, and I cope and I live life. I laugh and I cry, and I smile through the days when I really don’t want to. I have to. I have to live life, because I’ve been given life. I have a family, I have other boys. And I live life with Edward still with me, although I can’t physically see him, I can see him as clearly as if he were here, because his memory, his image, his personality are carved into my very being, they are a part of me.
I’ve struggled with those who think it’s ok to compare the death of my child with the death of another; with those who make me feel that my child’s death is history and that I’m over it; with those who think that I should in some way be thankful for the way Edward died; and with those who seem to think that my having other children means I’m ok about losing one.
No. Never. N.O. Don’t even go there.
My head never stops thinking and turning all this stuff over and over. And there’s so much other stuff too … house, husband, boys, cats, mum, dad, mum in law, sister, friends, wider family, school, college, illnesses, logistics … Am I doing, giving, being enough to meet others’ needs? And it’s incessant, stuff, all the time, sending my thoughts and brain into overdrive to the point of burn out … and it is expected that I can just be there for others, do for others, and I’m able to put aside all that I have going on and have enough left for others. And sometimes there really is nothing left of me to give, and no space left to carry the stuff of others. I feel like I’m not measuring up to others’ expectations, meeting the needs of others, feeling selfish for needing time, space, to be, to do what I need, what I want. It is draining, exhausting, and an incredibly heavy load to carry … with an added bag of guilt on top to weigh me down even more. Guilt that I feel like this, that I can’t bear any more, that I can’t give any more, that I need to be more, that I want to be me. Telling myself I am enough is hard, and it is work in progress.
I’m thankful to have my husband Justin, and I’m fully aware of how much I rely on him. He is my husband, friend, confidante, and my absolute rock. I’m grateful for so much in my life, and top of the list with my boys is Justin. Life has dealt us both wonderful, and desperate times, and we have been through it all together, and I know I couldn’t have faced all I have without him.
I needed to write, order my thoughts, process and offload and throw all that into the great somewhere. This week I metaphorically compared myself to a lion to explain how I was feeling. I needed to say so much, get it all out there and make some noise. I needed to find my voice and I needed to roar … here it is.
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