If your baby has just died, I am so so sorry. There just aren’t enough words to do this loss justice but I wanted to write something I wish I had been able to read when my newborn son died 13 years ago.
Everyone’s experience of loss and grief is different but if this is useful to just one grieving parent, then I’m glad I wrote it.
If your baby has just died, there’s every chance you are feeling a combination of numb, shock, denial, anger, exhaustion and pain. The range of feeling can change quickly from hour to hour and its intensity might take your breath away.
You might know why your baby died or it could have been completely without any warning, either way you could well be asking yourself why? why you? why your baby?
Those early days and weeks can feel like the loneliest place in the world. I remember feeling like I was in a bubble, watching the world continue on as normal around me while mine had been shattered. And I could be angry with the people who could just get on with their day.
There is no right way to do grief, go with what you need. The raw reality is that you will want your baby back and that is what you learn to manage and live with. You may also want the pain of your grief to end – I truly believe we have to experience this to heal. If this pain is masked in someway, it will find its way out eventually. When I read my diary from this time, my days were hard but they had a splattering of normality. As the months passed, these moments of normality grew until I felt like I was functioning again.
If your baby has just died, you may not want to read this right now. I remember trawling the internet to find words of comfort that would tell me the pain will end. For me, the intensity of my grief and pain eased as the years passed by but I also had to understand that it wasn’t going anywhere. I still think of my son several times a day – sometimes long, reflective thoughts with tears but more-often fleeting thoughts. Some thoughts are as raw as the day he died and I can sob and feel like my heart is breaking again. But I have long accepted these moments, it means he was here, he has not been forgotten and he is loved.
It isn’t something you ever get over, instead your grief will live alongside you. But in those early days, weeks and months it can be all-consuming and you might feel like you could drown under the weight of the grief. When you need it, reach out and get some support – for me, I eventually needed therapy and the chance to speak openly about how I was feeling. I did talk to my husband and my friends but I couldn’t share my darkest thoughts with them for fear of worrying them. Writing also saved me, a blank page was a safe place to pour out my thoughts, my anger, my why-me words and I wrote letters to my baby.
Talk about your baby when you are want to and sharing photos with people you want to share them with can be a way of acknowledging that your baby was here.
Go at your own pace – I can’t stress this enough – there is no rushing any recovery, just try to sleep and eat as best as you can.
Other people are going to get it wrong, even health professionals. Some people will be very well-meaning and they will be trying their best but won’t know what to say or do, some will be insensitive and those comments could sting alot. It is ok to distance yourself from the people who can’t give you the support you need. This is a time to look after you.
In those early weeks especially I remember being told to just take it a day at a time. But that was too much, another day without my baby was too much. So I did my days in half hour chunks, this gradually increased but initially getting through the next 30 minutes was all I could do, followed by the next and then the next. Finding the small steps can help you get through the day.
These words won’t be right for everyone but you are at the beginning of a journey that has no right path. Look after yourself as well as you can, be looked after when that is possible and needed, let the tears fall, say what you need and do what feels right for you.
No-one can walk in your shoes, this is your path.
For further support…
Janine Smith – a specialist in pregnancy, birth and early parenting
Mum to Jamie who died on 12 July 2007 when he was 3 days old