Saturday, April 25, 2009

Under the tree April 2008

How long has it been since you lost your child/ren? Has your grief changed at all? Is your life becoming any easier or is it just harder as time passes?
Thomas passed away 1 year and 56 days ago, or 421 days ago. He was 135 days old.
I still have the same grief but I express it differently now, I am still heartbroken, I still want to go back in time and hold him.
Is life becoming easier or harder, well I suppose it is easier now that we have passed Thomas' anniversary. In the first 6 months I felt like I we were all on the same page, everyone grieving at the same rate. People would take the time to be sensitive to our grief and try to be nice. I don't really know how I got through the first 6 months, I think that I was on autopilot and I just did what my husband told me to do.
Initially when Thomas passed away things changed because we moved back home. Our family was all together, minus the littlest one. We had our own space again, we didn't have to share space with a lot of strangers anymore. I was finally able to sleep because I didn't have to be at the hospital anymore. I was able to sleep in my own bed. It was better, even though it was so bad.
But I must say that I believe the second 6 months of life without Thomas was harder than the first 6 months, most bereaved parents I know have said the same thing. I am so sorry if you are starting to experience this, I hope that for you this will not be true. 
I am better now at choosing who to tell things to and who to just show the mask. I am better at recognising a like minded heart, someone who can listen and get it. There are a lot of people that I wouldn't dare show anything other than my mask to, it would be just to risky. Then there are the other people who I have to show the mask to, like family or my sons schoolteachers, because they expect me to function in a certain way. It is just risky to let the mask slip around them.
There are some people who will listen because they want to be good and caring and kind, but really they can't cope with it, I am going to have to find a way to stop myself in those situations.
I think that I am almost at the point where I wouldn't bother telling anyone my story anymore, unless it is in exceptional circumstances. I think that it means I have almost emptied my self. I wonder if that could have been done sooner if I had been able to talk more about Thomas.
I believe that  I am "working the program" my grief has many stages and I will sometimes jump from one to the other and sometimes I sit in a spot for a while, some days I do all stages at once. Somedays I have trouble accepting that he actually died, somedays I feel it was so long ago that he might not have been born at all. I wish he was still here (even though he was so very sick).
I believe that I am forever changed. I will never be the same.
How do you feel when you see pregnant women when you are out and about?
I try not to look at them. It is hard not to, they just seem to draw my eye. I have a close friend who has a 3 month old baby. It was sometimes difficult and sometimes heartbreaking watching her belly grow. It gave me a chance to talk about my pregnancy though. This friend is really the only person who didn't freak out when I used Thomas' name or spoke about him.
I sometimes feel anxious for the pregnant women I see, I wonder if they know about the things that can go wrong. I hope they never find out.
I went to a party recently and there was a young woman there who looked as though she was due. I just kept on stealing little glances at her. She was so happy and content, she was surrounded by people who cared for her and she appeared very healthy. I hope her baby has been born already and all is well.
I remember being a first time Mum. Nothing could have properly prepared me or explained how it feels to deliver a baby. Similarly, nothing could have softened the impact of Thomas death, grief just smashed right through me, there are little bits of it embedded in me. Everywhere.
What's your therapy in the aftermath of losing your child? Do you go to counseling? Do you do artwork or some kind of exercise or do you simply just let yourself be? What helps you?
My therapy has been lots of things, things that make me feel something. 
Talking has definitely been the most important. I think that it is very important to talk to people that knew me when Thomas was alive. People who met me as Thomas' Mum. Parents, nurses, support staff. Even just knowing that someone is there is important. Knowing that I can make a call, send an email, or a message on Face book and talk to one of Thomas' nurses if I want to is one of my lifelines.
Sleeping was important therapy, grief makes everything exhausting, even just thinking about things made me exhausted. I am lucky that my husband coped well with my clingyness because cuddles are fabulous therapy. For serious therapy I went to the the hospitals "bereaved parents support group"  where I listened to other people talk about their children, and they listened when I talked about Thomas.
Work is therapy, because I have to focus on life. I am still here and work is something that I need to do. I have found that I don't have the concentration for anything very hard. I just want something that keeps me busy. Somedays I feel like I could be an Altzimers patient, a whole lot of fluff upstairs. I am told it is a common symptom of depression. It can make my working life a bit frustrating.
I have had so many people tell me that it is OK to take Anti-depressants. They dispense this advice as if they are the only people in the world who are brave enough to tackle the topic of depression. The thing is that I am grieving and that is a natural process, given my situation. My baby died and I am supposed to be sad. I don't want to take a pill and behave like I forgot that Thomas ever existed, that he never died. If I was all happy and laughing all the time it would be wrong, I want to grieve. I suppose that grief in itself is therapy.
If grieving didn't make me feel better, then I wouldn't read all the baby lost blogs that I read. I wouldn't cry about other dead babies. How many times have you heard or read the phrase "have a good cry, you'll feel much better afterwards". Crying is therapy.
I actually go and see a real live therapist too, one on one. She has lost a baby too and she is great. One day I might be able to give that up but not yet.
I ran into a friend the other day. She is someone I used to work with. I didn't really connect with her when we worked together. She left the company to have a baby (her 2nd) just before I fell pregnant with Thomas. We connected at a support meeting for parents of children with Down syndrome. She said to me "I decided, you know what, this is my life too, yes I am a busy mum, I never have enough hours in the day, my kids are full on all the time, BUT, I need to do what makes me truly happy, for no-one else but me, because I want to, because I need to, because I want to be the best mother and wife I can be, so, I started running, and I love it, I get a high from it, I do it because it makes me happy" my friend encouraged me to find the thing that makes me happy and do it. So, I have joined a choir. It's my happiness therapy.
I believe that we all need sadness therapy and happiness therapy, and a lot of lifelines. This blog is one of my lifelines, I am the audience to yours.

1 comment:

  1. I understand the need to wear the mask around certain people but the need to drop it around others but it does feel risky each time I open up. My brain is still foggy too from the grief which at times adds other stress but I figure it's my body's way of letting me know it's handling all it can handle. Thomas is so precious- thank you for sharing. ((hugs))