Sometimes it’s hard to move on, grief jumps out and swallows you whole just when you think you’re making progress. A few weeks ago I went into Truro with my parents. I was ok, I was sad but I was ok. Until I saw someone using the same pram as we had bought for Lentil, after that every pram I saw, every baby’s cry I heard brought me to tears. I made my way back to the car trying to stem the flow of tears and quieten my sobs. I’ve been on some support groups for grieving parents and I’ve read that even a year on bereaved parents can find it hard to be around young children. I teach foundation stage, that’s my job, I spend every working day with a class of 4 and 5 year olds and I absolutely adore it. It’s the best job in the world. I can’t allow myself to remain being upset every time I see a child. After that trip I decided that I needed to get proactive to ensure that my fear and sadness isn’t allowed to take control. The more you put something off, the worse it becomes.
I got in touch with my friend Emma, her baby, Poppy was born 3 months before Lentil. We went through our pregnancies together. We looked forward to our children being friends and playing together. We complained to each other about the backache and the constant trips to the toilet. Emma reassured me about the birth and when I met Poppy a week after she was born I could see how worth it every ache, pain and inconvenient trip to the toilet would be.
I asked Emma if she and Poppy could come and visit. I had no idea if I was ready to see a baby but there was only one way to find out and I knew that Emma would understand if I cried all over Poppy or couldn’t bear to look at her. Yesterday they arrived, Poppy is wonderful and I knew as soon as I saw her again that spending time with her wasn’t going to cause any of the problems I had worried about. She’s such a gorgeous smiley baby and she’s a joy to be around. Obviously there is a huge amount of sadness that Lentil isn’t here too but it doesn’t lessen the happiness that seeing Poppy brings.
Emma, her husband Toby and Poppy live in Dorset so they stayed in a hotel locally overnight. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about seeing Poppy and thought that waking up in the night to hear her crying might be a bit much at the moment. We met up again today and went to the zoo. A trip which I almost backed out of. I was worried about bumping into children from my school and having to answer difficult questions. The parents and children at school all know about what happened to Lentil but four year olds often don’t quite take these things on board! I knew that everyone would understand if I backed out of the zoo trip. Emma even phoned me this morning to make sure I was still ok to go. I decided it was important that we did go and I’m really glad we did as we had a lovely time.
People say that you have to give grief time, it takes time to move on. I absolutely believe this is true but time can’t work its magic on its own. I could spend a year hiding at home, avoiding the things I find challenging and despite the fact that time would have passed I don’t think I would be any further forward. I try to challenge myself to do things, to push myself out of my comfort zone and give myself a well done when I achieve something. The achievements are small but it’s important that I acknowledge them.
Time is a crucial part of grief but passively watching it pass doesn’t help. It’s a very delicate balance to achieve, not challenging myself to such an extent that I can’t cope but also making sure that I am moving forward, taking baby steps towards the future. Not the future we had planned but a future that is still full of hope and sunshine-filled days. I’ve realised how important it is to let people in, not to push me but to hold my hand while I challenge myself and to be there to catch me if I push myself too hard. I am so lucky to have friends like Emma and Toby and my amazing husband, Paul.