I have never been where you have been. I have no idea what you are feeling, or how you are getting through each day. I have cried tears for you, but they seem like tiny drops compared to the raging rapids you must be shedding. I imagine you feel angry that it happened to you. I imagine you lie awake at night wondering if you did anything wrong, or could have done anything differently. I imagine you forgetting yourself for a moment…watching your 3 year old dancing with a silly smile for the camera. You smile to yourself, and then remember your world ended a few days ago when your other daughter died, and there is no going back. Do you wish time could go back a week, where she was safe and sound inside you, only to realise that it would be fruitless, that the very worse pain would still be ahead of you anyway? Do you and your husband know what to say to each other, how to comfort each other?
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No. I cannot begin to imagine anything you are going through. I can’t begin to understand the grief, or the finality, or the sense of loss. When I was at my most vulnerable and exposed you were there for me. You sat with me, distracted me, talked about nothing. Maybe you didn’t know what I was going through, but it seemed like you understood. It was what I needed. It helped get me through. I was staring into blackness, a neverending abyss of despair, and you were there. And now I am impotent to do anything that might comfort you, because although I don’t know how you feel, as a mother I know instinctively there is no comfort when a child is lost. Its what we fear more than anything. No matter how old, how young the child, a mother is a mother. My friend who deserves so much more than the hollowness you must be harbouring inside – I wish I could do something to take some of the ache away.
I think you will be forever changed – I don’t think the ache will ever really go completely. But I know women that have lost children before, and they have gone on to have happy days. Perfect days even. And I think the most terrible, heartbreaking days gradually became fewer, though the ache was always there. Because with or without our permission life will inevitably go on and we will find our place within it. A new place maybe, but life will go on.
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So. I am here for you however it is that you need me. For now I will carry on making conversation, respecting silences when they are needed, and looking for an opportunity to listen. You have an indefinite veto power on every conversation we have from now until you don’t need it. If you want to talk about something else, we will. Because I can’t make things better, but I can be here by your side. And I can hope and wish for all the good things to come for you and your family, and for the heartbreak slowly, quietly, to slip into an ache – a reminder of the horrendous pain but gradually not so endless.
My friend who is grieving, I grieve for you too. Just let me know if I’m not doing it right.