On January 1st 2017 I woke up and felt like the weight of the world was on my chest. It dawned on me that I was in a new year, without my baby. I felt I had left him in 2016. I was suddenly so much further away from him. To touch, to smell, to feel, to kiss, to hold. How could a new year go on as normal when our world had fallen apart?
A new year symbolises closing chapters in your life and new beginnings- none of which I wanted. I wanted to stay in 2016 with him. Time felt like distance and that distance was excruciating. I didn’t know how to live in another year when he died in the last. My resolution was simply to survive.
Here I am a year later having survived the unthinkable and I’m proud that I’m still standing. Over the year I learnt that I did not leave him in 2016. I learnt that I carried him with me into 2017 and carried him with me every day last year. Now I carry him into this year and will continue to do so until my days are up. The weight can be heavy but it is never a burden. The weight is made from love and I carry it with pride, just as I carry the love for my living children. I hold him tenderly and protectively in my heart and continue to love him more than words can express.
Over the last year I’ve learnt that the best way for me to thrive (not just survive) is not to ‘let go’ but to incorporate him with us in our lives in ways that are right for us. Some of these ways have changed through the year and will likely continue to change which we will accept and embrace as we need to.
Over the last year I have learnt to stand firm in the fact it’s our life, our baby, our love, our grief, our children and our choice how to live with it all in a way that’s best for us. I will no longer justify or apologise for our choices nor will I continue to fight for others to understand and accept them. Grief is unique and for us, pushing it down keeps it bubbling violently inside. We need to say his name. We need to acknowledge and recognise him. We need to connect with him. And by “we” I mean myself, my husband AND our living children, they need this too. His death is a tragedy, his life and memory is not. It is full of love, joy and beauty. To think of his life brings us warmth. To honour him brings us peace and hope. To have others do the same brings us comfort. Doing these things doesn’t mean we are stuck in the past. It means we are moving forward in life in a way that helps us heal and allows our grief to find its place within in a gentler way.
This year we will work harder to shape our new lives and find our new normals. We will do everything we can to shift any focus on the hurts we have experienced to the gratitude of those who understand our wants and needs and have a space for our son in their hearts and in their homes. We will concentrate on the love of those who continue to give us support as the years roll over knowing time won’t fade our love, our want for us to be recognised as a family of 5 with 3 children we hold so dear and our need to have his life acknowledged. All these things bring us a sense of peace that he is still here, just in a different way.
We will live another year without him and also as I have discovered, WITH him always in our hearts.