At the start you count in days, then weeks, finally moving to months. One day we’ll even count in years. Unexpectedly at the 9 month mark I suddenly feel like I’m back to counting in weeks. This time in a countdown to the one year mark.
In the last few weeks I’ve had lots of days where it feels so much harder and somehow fresher and raw all over again, perhaps due to the heightened noticing and counting of time. I’m back to feeling bitterly sorry for our son who is not here, for my whole family and for myself as I think more and more about the 1 year mark coming up with no baby to sing happy birthday to.
Sometimes I feel complete despair, other times it’s raging anger. Worst of all are the times I just feel empty and hollow. No matter how I am feeling inside I’ve learnt how to convincingly portray to others that I’m perfectly ok on days when I’m far from it. I can (usually) firmly attach a mask that hides all evidence of grief before I leave my bedroom in the morning. There are downsides to this as it can be hard to take that mask off when it’s glued on so tight. Sometimes I just want to have a great big cry to find some relief from everything kept inside but I can’t. When you build your walls up so high and so strong it’s difficult to let them back down. But no matter how I feel and no matter how strong and high my walls are, there’s no convincing or hiding from yourself.
Every milestone he should have had I’ve noticed. Crawling, first foods, first words, first steps… I’m intensely aware of the things he might be doing right now referencing our other two children and when they did them. Unable to witness these things with Elliott I’m left to do nothing but achingly wonder when he would have done them. How very unhelpful and hurtful to spend time wondering about something that will never be and yet it’s completely impossible to stop. How sneaky those thoughts are that creep in no matter how much I try to block them out.
Every morning I wake and feel his absence from our house and my arms. I even feel the empty space in our bed where he would have coslept like our other two did. Every event or occasion hurts, even at times I feel so much joy. In a cruel twist I somehow feel that he’s missing on those times more than every other day or moment.
After 9 months I still hurt inside as much as I did in the first month. I walk around every second of the day feeling like my heart is literally heavy. It feel like I have a brick in my chest that happens to beat and bleed. I am slowly finding a way to live with that feeling a bit better but it still sucks so much making me ask, “When does this get easier?”
I have to remind myself it HAS and it DOES by remembering just what it was like back at the start to see how different it is now. When you are feeling at a 10 on the shit scale it’s hard to remember that scale has a whole extra level that gets unlocked once you become bereaved, a level that you can slip in and out of without realising.
I have to remember that i do smile and laugh, that I do have fun and that I do make lots of beautiful memories with my family. I go out, i have lunch with friends and enjoy the sunshine and breeze on my face. I have to remind myself what I do now and how certain things are easier than they were. I have to tell myself these things because it’s easy at night to only focus on the fact that I’ve done it all with a broken heart, secretly aching and bleeding inside. I have to remind myself that while the pain will never go it will slowly find its place inside as I learn how to and get better at living with this pain.
When things are really hard I remind myself that there HAVE been times where I’ve felt like I’m really moving upwards and onwards and that there will be those times again. Remember there HAS been an increasing amount of light, more laughter, more peace, sometimes even a little more acceptance. Remember there are now less times I lie when I answer “I’m ok” and a lot less days where I have to really will myself out of bed. I hold onto the fact there are many more good days, days that are peaceful and gentle, days where I’m actually ok.
If I feel like I’m going ‘backwards’ during the hard times, I remind myself it’s possible to climb out of a dark hole because I’ve done it all before, and each time it gets a tiny bit easier to do so. Perhaps because I can now recognise when I’m in one and am finding the things I need to do and the people who are safe to call out to that might help pull me out of one.
I’ve never had 9 months pass so quickly. I feel like I’ve mostly survived it rather than lived it and that terrifies me because it’s not want I want out of life. I’m scared that life will pass me by. I want to be happy and peaceful and live a life that honours my baby. Im trying so hard to do that but it’s so very exhausting. I know I’m still broken inside but also know it’s totally ok that I am. I know all I can do is keep going and I will continue to learn how to live with the gaping hole in my heart.