Visited His Grave

I still need to make a video for Gideon’s third birthday, as always, but I can’t find a song that speaks to me. Maybe I need to listen to the radio more to find that song. But I don’t know. Usually, I just hear something, and I know it’s right.

I had a nice Easter, of course Benedict was ill with something, he had a high fever and a nice rash all over his body. With scarlet fever going round we were worried, but the doctor decided it was likely viral and it went away pretty fast.

I tried not to eat too many Easter eggs, for waistline reasons. And Benedict enjoyed helping me out I’m sure.

Easter is always bitter sweet for me, it was Easter time that we lost Gideon of course. We had to delay the funeral as it was Holy Week. When I think back, I remember very little of the week or so leading up to the funeral, or even the funeral itself, I navigated it in a sort of trance like dream. But I know it was tomorrow, the 26th.

I remember trying to choose flowers. Asking if they could make anything small enough to fit on a tiny white coffin. Things like that stick in your mind. I remember visiting him for the last time in the funeral home. And he looked so small, but so peaceful. I remember thinking I wanted to pick him up and run away with him. As absurd as that sounds. I just couldn’t imagine never seeing him again.

And I never imagined making it here. Three years down the line. Somehow, still going. Despite the pain. And, yes, chasing around a different little boy, a laughing, funny little boy. It was the dream. I got the dream because of Gideon, but I never got to have it with Gideon.

We finally got the chance to go and visit his grave, this year everything has seemed to go wrong, there has been so much stuff happening, so it’s been impossible to go visit. Once I arrived I felt so guilty we hadn’t visited sooner. His grave was beautiful of course – we had planted flowers, and they were in bloom, but still, I felt we should go more often. A couple of things were missing from the grave, I’m hoping just from the bad weather…

Benedict helped by handing us flowers and walking around holding the gardening fork, looking purposeful. He also took a flower, and walked with determination over to another grave. The grave of a little boy who died aged just 6. He just toddled over and smiled, and then put the flower on the boy’s grave. You could hear him muttering to himself, about dis and dat.

It was very sweet to watch him, I don’t know why he chose that grave, he just did. And we left the flower there of course. He seemed so determined about it, I couldn’t take it away.

You can see how Gideon’s grave is a little wild, but that’s because we planted so many flowers there. I might need to trim them back a bit so they don’t overwhelm the little stone.

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Benedict likes the cemetery, he waves at things we can’t see. And because we talk about Gideon a lot, he likes the association that these flowers are for Gideon.

Anyway, it’s late again, and I must go to bed.

Some pictures

Here are some lovely photos from Gideon’s angel day and birthday

This is Benedict with Gideon’s balloon. He played with it a lot. So a photo was hard to get.

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This is Gideon’s Angel Day cake. I spent a long time trying to get it right. The arc was supposed to be a rainbow, but I ran out of time…And it kept falling apart.

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We went to the beach as it was a lovely day, and had a picnic. beach(c) chair(c) hat(c)

 

We tried to have a lovely day for Gideon. As if he were with us. But I can always feel very keenly, the lack of Gideon’s physical presence on beautiful sunny days like that. I miss him. A lot.

If you are new to baby loss, I want you to know that it does get…easier, the pain is still there, I still miss him a lot, but the rawness has gone, that huge gaping raw hole has somehow become less…consuming.

At the start, when the world seems so cruel, and devastating and you don’t even want to wake up up in the morning and the grief is this clawing animal ripping your heart to shreds with every breath, you can’t imagine ever living a “normal” life with that kind of loss. But you do. I still miss my Gideon, every day. It isn’t just something I say, I don’t just remember him on his special days. I actually think about him every day of my life. His picture is up on the walls of almost every room, I remember him. I think about him. I love him. I miss him.

And somehow time keeps moving forward, taking me further and further away from the year that we met and said goodbye.

And even when the memories start to fade, and the little pieces of the days we spent together become less clear in my mind, and the evocative memory of his smell, his warmth, his tiny hands…even when all of that is a struggle to unearth from my mind, I still love him.

Eternally.

 

Day 26: Community

Day 26. Community: What does this community mean to you?

The baby loss community was my life-line after losing Gideon. I was so lost and I didn’t know what to do, or how to cope with the pain and constant shattering grief that I woke up to every day. I didn’t know how to process the guilt and anger that came in waves. Then I met an amazing group of women, all grieving, all hurting – we shared our pain, we spoke of grief and hurt, we comforted, we opened up, we reassured. We supported. Without these strangers, I don’t know how I could have coped with everything. When I needed them they were there. And we followed each other through the grief, through trying again, through pregnancy and now many of us through the journey of our rainbows. They are invaluable in my life.

day26Wherever we are in the world, no matter what our beliefs, what our faith, what we’ve experienced, we have stood together.

I love the baby loss community. It’s a club I never asked to be a part of, a place I never wanted to join and one I barely knew existed, but I could not be without them now.

 

Day 25: #SayItOutLoud

25. #SayItOutLoud: Say It Out Loud is The STILL Project’s famous hashtag. STILL is a feature-length documentary film project aimed at breaking the cycle of silence surrounding pregnancy and infant loss. If you could say anything out loud about your journey with grief with the death or your baby, what would it be? What do you want the world to know? Is there a cause that touches your heart that you want to raise awareness for?

There are so many things I want to say. One springs to mind, I’m not sure this is what today’s task had in mind, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot…stop asking people how many children they have or if they have children. That seemingly innocuous question is actually one of the most loaded and complex questions I know. It’s just not an easy answer, and not just for parents of angel babies, but for so many other people. There IS one group of people who could maybe answer it without any issues:

Women who either have healthy children, and have never had miscarriages or infant/child loss or women who have no children and are happy with that. 

But lets look at the groups who might struggle with that question. Some of these groups may struggle because the answer is not straightforward, or takes explaining (such as miscarriage and infant loss) or some might simply find the question hurtful (infertile women) and other still might find the question raises personal feelings (adoption, abortion, terminal illness etc)

1) Infertile people
2) Parents who have had miscarriages (1 in 4)
3) Parents who have had stillbirths
4) Parents who had had infant loss
5) Parents who have lost a child
6) Parents who are fostering children
7) Parents who are in the process of adopting children
8) Parents who have step children
9) Parents who have children, but are trying for another and struggling
10) Parents who gave up their children for adoption
11) Parents who had their children taken away – for whatever reason
12) Parents who had an abortion
13) Parents whose child is missing or lost
14) Parents whose children are ill
15) Pregnant women who haven’t told anyone yet
16) Pregnant women whose baby is ill
17) Parents in a risky pregnancy where their baby may or may not make it
18) Single women/men who haven’t found a life partner to have children with.

So next time you are chatting away to a stranger, before you ask that question “do you have any children,” or maybe “how many children do you have,” or even “is this your first?” ask yourself this one simple question. Is this person standing before you a member of that ONE group who could answer that question easily, without struggle or upset, or is this person one of the other 18 groups of people (or more I’ve likely missed) who might find the question difficult to answer in some way. Might it trigger emotions that you hadn’t even considered? Are you truly asking them that question, or are you simply asking how many living children they have in their home. If you are truly asking the question, are you actually prepared for the response…any response, even the person in front of you breaking down in tears as they tell you about the child missing in their lives? I’m guessing the answer is usually no.

So, what should you do instead? If they have a child with them, perhaps simply comment on them, ask their name etc, maybe volunteer YOUR vital statistics (children wise) and leave it open for the other person to respond how they want. Or if you are just making passing small talk, maybe just talk about the weather, or the close proximity of Christmas and leave it there. If they want to volunteer information about their children, they will. You could save someone a lot of pain by simply thinking first!

If anyone thinks of any missing groups, please tell me, I’ll add them to the list.

 

Day 23 and 24

Day 23 Tattoos/Jewellery: Do you have a piece of jewellery in memory of your baby? Or maybe a tattoo. Please feel welcome to share links too.

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I used to wear this necklace and my bracelet every single day but now I have to be careful, Benedict pulls on my necklace and I’m afraid of it breaking and losing it. So I keep it safe on his shelf in the living room. I will one day wear it again every day when he is older.

Day 24 Artwork: Have you created a piece of artwork in the wake of your baby’s death? Or maybe someone has given you some artwork to honour your baby? Please feel welcome to share links to your own website or to other artists.

I always wanted to draw Gideon, but I just never felt as if my drawing skills were good enough to attempt it, and I also know that no matter what I drew, it would never seem right. But I do write poetry, and it is this that has helped me through the pain and the grief.

A Little Garden

There is a little garden,
Where angel children play,
They dance among the flowers,
And sleep among the hay,
They sing in sweetest voice,
And laugh with open joy,
The smile and they rejoice,
Every angel girl and boy,
And sometimes late at night,
When an angel mommy cries,
The angels shine their light,
Through the stars in the skies,
To show that heaven’s real,
That they’re happy and they sing,
And to show you that the love you feel,
Is what makes their angel wings.

I read my own poem at Gideon’s funeral. I’m very socially anxious and standing up there reading a poem while barely holding it together was so hard. But I knew I had to do it. I had to get through it. And I did. And it broke my heart.

Day 19: Support

Day 19 Support: Share about what has been the best support for you since the loss of your baby. Maybe it is a special friend or family member? A pet? An organization? What have they done for you? Where would you be without them?

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Everyone knows the statistics for relationship breakdown after the death of a child, some state it as high as 80%. And that seems to be reality, that’s what it is. Because no matter how much you love each other, grieving is a very difficult and intensely personal experience. Personal because while there is a degree where you can grieve together, everyone grieves differently at different rates, goes through different stages at different times, have different ways of coping. And it doesn’t matter how close you are to your partner, you wont always grieve together. You wont always feel like you are moving down the same path at the same time. Sometimes you will feel utterly and completely alone in your pain and sadness.

But, what’s important, is not that you agree on every step of the grieving process, or that you can read each other’s minds; no it’s that you actually support each other’s differences and understand that your partner may be feeling differently to you. Some people may want to talk about their child constantly, other may prefer to keep their memories and feelings to themselves. One may even blame the other. This can make even the simplest of conversation very difficult.

Thankfully, both my husband and I were talkers. We wanted to rehash old memories, we wanted to talk about every single second of Gideon’s little life together, we wanted to look and photos and touch his clothes and we did it together. But that didn’t mean we didn’t struggle. We struggled a lot, we staggered and fought every single day to not drift too far apart, to not allow a wedge to form between us. We argued and we fought and we cried and we struggled. It would be dishonest to deny that, and it wouldn’t be fair to those early in the grieving process, wondering if their relationship can make it intact.

It was hard and sometimes we felt like we wouldn’t make it. But we tried to support each other, to allow each other to hurt and grieve independently as well as together.

And surprisingly it wasn’t as hard as those statistics make out. In fact we seemed to struggle much harder after Benedict was born, with all the stress of a new baby after all the worrying we did. Statistics are not everything, they are just numbers. You can get through it together.

But it wont ever be easy.

Day 17 and 18

Oops missed a day. I knew there was something I was forgetting yesterday.

Day Time: How long has it been since your baby died.

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Day 18 Release: What do you want to let go of on this journey of grief? Is it fear? Guilt? Worry? Deep sadness? Regrets?

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There are regrets…that I didn’t tell someone the day Iit happened, when I had a lot of discomfort, or that I didn’t insist on a full exam the day I had my first “leak” or that I didn’t take it easy after that. Or that I could have made a different choice in his short life…or just held him more often. Or that if I do have lupus, I didn’t push harder for a diagnosis when I first got ill, when they kept telling me I was “anxious” or “attention seeking.” Because I hated how such accusations made me feel, so I stopped fighting for what I knew was right. If I had fought, if I had been diagnosed. What then? Could it have made any difference to the outcome of Gideon’s pregnancy?

I would like to let go of these regrets and the sadness of not knowing if there was anything I could have done to save him. But I know that I can’t let such regrets take over my life, I try to learn from them, understand them and try to prevent creating any more regrets in my life. Often before I do something, I ask myself if I will regret it or not.

I can’t change the past, but I can change the future.