I found this photo while I was shuffling through our folders and even when Rileybear was still brand new you could see the incredible amount of love our daughter possessed for him.
Our little girl has had to do so much growing up in the past 12 months and for me it’s been the most difficult aspect of our grieving process. As ridiculous as it might sound, I’d never actually seen my daughter cry purely because her feelings were hurt. Sure, she’d grizzle over not getting her own way, but the first time I heard weeping and I walked into her room to find her sobbing saying ‘I miss my little man’ almost ended me.
She’s had to learn to cope with the enormity of loss at a far earlier age than I would’ve liked and it’s something that I think will always remain, even subconsciously, as part of her identity. Thankfully, we’ve had so many generous people who have donated Teddies, Photo Albums and other little items that she cherishes and which constantly remind her of her brother.
These days she seems to be coping quite well. She’s ecstatic that she’s getting the opportunity to be a big sister again and she finds solace in sending her brother letters via balloon each month to show him what she’s up to at school and how much she misses him. While she takes comfort in these actions I’ll keep encouraging it, as painful as it might be for me as a parent.
I think the most upsetting aspect of what we do is the extremely personal encounters with individuals who’ve lost a child or in some cases children. I’ve met Mums and Dads on our travels who’ve lost as many as 14 children and it’s a club that no parent wants to be a part of. From miscarriage, to still borns and children who were cruelly taken far too soon, no parent nor family should ever have to endure the heartache associated with the loss of a child.
For those of you who’ve only recently experienced this awful circumstance, I implore you to seek support. You’re not alone, you shouldn’t have to deal with this by yourself and unfortunately there’s too many of us who’ve experienced similar paths to yourself and have walked the same journey you’re about to travel.
Grief left unchecked has the ability to tear families apart and ruin lives, and it’s for this reason that I post this – to remind those of you who’ve experienced the cruellest loss of all, that you’re not to blame. You should never be shamed for grieving your child and there’s no ‘timeframe’ to ‘get over it’. This is a lifelong scar that may fade, but never disappears completely and can be reopened at the most inopportune times.
I’d love to hear from those of you brave enough to share your stories. I truly think you’re incredible.
To the bereaved Mums, Dads, Sisters, Brothers, Grandparents, Guardians and all those in between – I salute you.