In the support group I went to for parental bereavement one man shared about the meaning of the pain he felt for losing his daughter. When people, in a well-meant attempt to console say, “time heals all wounds” he realised that he did not want this wound to heal as it was his way to be connected to his daughter.
During the first week after giving birth, while still in hospital and having my younger twin still laying in the baby’s morgue upstairs, I had someone saying those exact words to me. I know he meant well and in his world these words must have had meaning, but they just clashed harshly with the raw and open wound in my heart.
Besides the fact that this cliché is, in my opinion, totally uncalled for to say to recently bereaved parents it is an interesting neurological connection that happens when all we remember about our babies who died too soon is the pain we felt in those moments. The pain of not being able to see the child grow up, celebrate birthdays, see their first steps, hear their first words…
It is normal to loop around those saddening thoughts of missing and missing out. If this however is your only experience you might want to ask yourself about the meanings you have created so far and whether they still serve you.
I could write a book about the thoughts that were running through my brain at that time. This is part of why experiencing grief is so tiring, emotionally, mentally and physically. The amount of energy we spend on playing through those movies is huge. It takes a toll on our life. It definitely didn’t help the tiredness of sleepless nights that I experienced while breast-feeding my dead baby’s twin sister.
Some bereaved parents have started charities, fundraiser or made other contributions in the name of their babies who died. Some have come created a meaning of leaving a legacy in their child’s name or living a life to make their child proud. This might take a while, or it might not.
Creating meaning is an advantage we, as conscious human beings, have. The meaning of being pregnant will be different if you are 17 and didn’t plan it to when you’re 40 and just had your 13th attempt at IVF (in vitro fertilization). The meaning of having a child will be different if you know you are a single mum to when you know you have the full support of a loving husband and grandparents.
We create meaning. Even in the examples above the meaning from one person will be different the meaning of another experiencing the same.
Stay tuned to the forthcoming book Grieving Parents: Surviving Loss as a Couple with its full chapter on Making and Changing Meanings –> check www.GrievingParents.net for updates
Some of the amazing fundraiser and charity and other contributions are:
- Carly Marie’s Project Heal
- Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep
- STILL Project
- Return To Zero, the movie based on the story of Sean and Kiley Hanish’s loss
Please mention your fundraiser, charity or other contribution in the comments!
Photo: Michael Goh, Perth