Loss parents have many zones to their lives. Loss Parent, Normal Parent, Not A Parent, Friend, Sibling, Child. All of these zones are overshadowed by Loss Parent, at least at the start of the journey.
Once the initial numbness and pain has passed all zones are still affected by the loss but in different ways. Friend zone may change as some people will no longer want to be around you as they will have no idea what to say or how to act. They may also be afraid of the tears or that they fear the loss will rub off on them (numpties). You may also find that you don’t want to be around some previous friends because they have a child the same gender or age as your missing child.
I have all the zones listed above. All of them were affected by the loss of my Milo especially the Normal Parent zone. I wanted to talk about my son but a lot of people didn’t want to hear about him in normal play group situations or they just wanted to say they understood how I was feeling due to losing a grandparent (still a loss but incomparable to the loss of your child).
Loss Parent is an odd Zone. I find that while this zone is a constant in my life I am visiting it less and less. It is starting to not define me any more. At first all my interactions were led by the fact that I am a loss parent but now I find that I no longer lead with my Milo story (wrong word but it works for this post). Obviously this zone takes over around special dates but I would worry if it didn’t.
“YEARNING WITHOUT PAIN IS JUST WANTING” Vanden Plas
Every loss parent yearns for their missing child. The yearning can be so bad that you struggle to breathe. This yearning will never go away/leave you. It may take a back seat but loss parents hearts will always yearn for someone they will never see again in their lifetime.
The pain of yearning is unending. Sometimes the only thing that gets you through is knowing that sleep will halt the yearning for a short while. You wake up in the morning and for a few second the pain isn’t there but then you remember and it is straight on your back like the weight of the world.
I yearn to hold my son in my arms or to lay him on my chest and watch him sleep. I yearn for the full family photos that I will never have or take. I just can’t bring myself to take them. I have photos of my two living children together and the occasional one of me and my husband but there are no photos of Lilith with her brother and parents. I wouldn’t be able to look at them and while that is not fair to Lilith as there are ones of her parents with her brothers she will forever be missing them just as we are missing a family member.
Every parent needs this type of time, either with their partner or by themselves. 😉 Loss parents are no different, it just might take a while to get into it.
After loss it is very easy to lose your mojo. You can become very numb and cannot see the point of being intimate or you may struggle being close to your partner again. You might not want to become pregnant again and so avoid any type of touching so it doesn’t lead to sex.
There also might be feelings of resentment which will impede X-rated time. If you feel that your partner did something wrong or that your partner is not supporting you in your grief then you will not want to be intimate with them.
Of course you could also go the other way and crave intimacy and closeness. You may also want to become pregnant as soon as possible after your loss.
I know I majorly withdrew from my husband after losing my Milo. I just couldn’t bring myself to be intimate with him or even touch him. It felt so wrong to enjoy myself when I had just lost my son. I also felt more sad when my husband held me. I guess we had been holding each other when upset for so long and it was hard to get away from that. He was also didn’t want the closeness so our x-rated time suffered. Milo had been gone at least 6 months before either of us felt up to anything. We may be an extreme case though.
Loss parents do lots and lots of watching, waiting and wondering. They watch their living children grow up with a missing sibling. They wait for the inevitable questions from everyone. They wonder why them. They watch the years pass from when they last held their child, they wait for the time to come when they can be together again and wonder why them.
I watch my sunshine and rainbow babies (sunshine is a before loss baby and a rainbow is after loss) grow and develop their own personality. I watch them play and wish that there was three of them playing instead of just the two.
I wait for the pain to release it’s hold on me. I know this will never happen but the hope keeps me going. I wait for the day that my children ask more questions about their brother.
I constantly wonder about my Milo. I wonder, if he had had surgery, would he have lived longer. I wonder if he was in pain but didn’t realise it as he had been in pain constantly since birth. I wonder how life would have been if he had come home. I wonder about who he would have been. Would he been able to talk or walk with a lot of help. Would he have had a laid back personality like his dad or more fiery like me? Would he have developed to a point where he would have been able to start school and make friends?
It is OK to feel any which way after losing your child. There is no specific way to grieve or no length of time by which it should be done, if ever. No one should (unfortunately they will) tell you how to be or cope.
If you want to scream at everything then do so or if you want to hide from the world then go ahead.
Any and all feelings are valid. There is no manual on child loss.
I spent many days in my bed not talking, eating, drinking in the early days. I refused to open the door or answer texts. That was my way of dealing with the pain. It wasn’t necessary the most healthy way to do it but it was my way.
Being a loss parent gives you a sense of unity within the angel community. These are other parents who totally understand how you are feeling. They also get your frustrations with non loss parents who say silly things for the sake of saying something when faced with the loss of someone else’s child.
Meeting with another loss parent for the first time is actually easier than meeting any other stranger. You already have something in common and there is no need to have the pity head tilt that someone is unaffected by child loss will always use when you tell them about your child. They also get the quick mood swings and your need to cancel plans at the last minute.
There are many places to get the feeling of unity. Some loss parents prefer social media while others benefit from face to face groups. There is a local child bereavement group to me but I have never been and now I feel that I can’t go as it would take me right back and that is not somewhere where I wish to be currently be.
My unity comes from my many loss/rainbow baby groups that are based on a couple of social media sites. My first is PAIL. The members there were the first people I ‘met’ when I was in my darkest days. They understood the feelings and they just got the need to say my son’s name when no one else would listen. The PAIL mums took me in and they were so welcoming. I now co-admin the group and give that support to the new bereaved parents. I hope I offer comfort.
I also have a couple of groups on a different social media site to PAIL. I find I don’t use the angel mum groups as much so more as I have my rainbow now and she is a large part of my life and new angel mums don’t need to hear about living children when they just lost theirs.
From these groups I have found mums who all lost their beautiful babies at or around the same time as I lost my Milo. Having people at the same point of this journey is a great comfort to me. They totally get it and we had our rainbows around the same time too which also helped as a rainbow pregnancy can be very mentally challenging.
Many, many of these are shed by not only loss parents but also by the grandparents, family, friends and some people who are told the story of the angel.
They are not something to be hidden but often they are. Sometimes they take a long time to dry and sometimes they appear out of nowhere, even when you feel you are having a good day. However much you cry or don’t is not wrong. I have met some loss parents who are able to talk about their missing child and not let one free but then there are others who just hear a mention of their child’s name and they are sobbing.
I am glad I have moved on from the unstoppable tears. They embarrassed me as I rarely show emotion and they caused people to want to give me hugs and I don’t do hugs.
I cried so much in the days after losing my Milo, once the shock and the numbness eased off. I had days where I just wept all day. I would calm down and then someone would speak to me and then they would start again. I had horrendous headaches from them.
Seeing my dad sob over his grandson’s coffin is one image that haunts me even now and will do until the day I join my son. One of the nurses sat and cried with me the night my Milo died. She needed more consoling than I did, ( I was very numb). It showed me just how much she loved my boy and how much he would be missed by the staff. She told me that night that she doesn’t often work with the babies who come onto the ward but there was something about my son and she always asked to be in charge of him when she was on shift.