First things first. There's no rule book to grief. No one is ever born into this world with an instruction manual to life in their hand. I was completely unaware as to what grief was until I was hit full on in the face with the death of my daughter, my precious, wished for, much loved and wanted little girl. She was the answer to all my prayers, and her death was the start of our nightmare.
I learned a lot of things after we lost our Rosie, and it wasn't from a book in a classroom. I learned that when someone said that I needed to be strong, I didn't have to do what they told me. I didn't need to be anything. Why would I try to be something I wasn't? Was I not allowed to grieve for my little girl? I was, but people found it easier if I did it in private and not in their company. If only it was that easy.
I also learned the difference between genuine concern and just pure gossip material. I learned this quickly. Even now, I decide who knows about Rosie's story and who doesn't. I feel no pressure to tell everyone who asks about her. If it doesn't feel right, then they get told "Thank you, but it is not something I wish to discuss with you". This is no avoidance on my part, I am just protecting my daughter. She is not gossip fodder.
Lots of other lessons followed, and I slowly and quickly, if that's possible, put together this mental instruction manual. It's in my head. It is only applicable to me, because I am fully aware that everyone is different and deals with grief in their own way. Charlie's was just starting our when our world came to a grinding halt. During this time, we had no support. That has now changed, thankfully.
Just a few things I can think of:
A man will grieve differently from his wife. That's something I learned. Grief is like the ocean, some days it will be paddling depth, just lapping round your feet, and then other days it will be like a tsunami. Absolutely devastating and will take days, weeks and months to feel almost human again.
No justification is needed for your tears. Let them fall. A cloud, when it is full, releases water. It is called rain. The body needs to do the same. This is called grief. It's okay to cry. It is okay to think about them. It is okay to talk about them. It is okay to smile and be happy. Please speak to someone.
I have Photo's all over my house. She has her own rose in the garden. She has a rose tree at the cemetery where her ashes are scattered. I have a picture of her on my desk. She is and will be for evermore a massive part in our lives. I will never, ever deny her existence to anyone for the ease of the other person. She existed and for a short while our hearts beat together. I still carry her DNA inside me. I am her momma and she is my baby bear. I may not talk about her, but I will never hide her away. She is my beautiful Sleeping Beauty, and I am so proud of the woman I am today because of her. She is the reason my heart beats, and every beat is for her.
All we can do as parents is hope that we inspire our children to do well and make them proud of us. That still applies in my manual. I try to inspire others to be better humans and I know that she is proud of what we have achieved together in six years. We heal by healing others. We rise by lifting others.
My husband is my hero. I know he is our little girls hero. I am so proud of him, and tell him regularly. His journey has been totally different to mine, and that's okay. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Just remember to be gentle with yourself and treat your body kindly. Talk about your loss when you want to, and to whom you trust. Keyword: talk.
The way I summarise my journey is this: I have crawled through hot coals and broken glass to the gates of Hell for tea with the Devil. I declined his invite to join him, politely, and he wished me well and I set off back. I didn't emerge from that a victim. I came back as a warrior. I thank my legs daily for supporting me and keeping me upright. I removed my rose tinted spectacles. I have survived. And every day I am alive, I try to help, inspire, heal, love and listen to those that need it. I understand that a persons behaviour can come from a place of pain, for whatever reason.
I often wondered what my purpose in life was. I now know.
Just be gentle and kind to yourself. Let's meet up for coffee sometime. Tell me all about your precious child. And I'll tell you all about mine. We are part of a unique club.
Lots of love,