Another cliché statement. However, this is one that I believe to be true because, unlike the other cliché statements that I’ve been calling out, it entirely resonates with my own experience. I’ve lived it. I also realised that so far I have been brutally honest about stillbirth and that, whilst I believe there is strength and empowerment in truth, it is also important for anyone who is experiencing and engaging with stillbirth to hear something of comfort about what lies ahead.
The truth, of course, is that I do not know what lies ahead for you, and neither do you or anyone else. But I do know that you are stronger than you think. I do know without a doubt that you can survive this loss. I also know that you have the capacity to handle anything and do anything that you want to do going forward, despite this terrible trauma you are experiencing now. It won’t be easy and you likely can’t see how you can do it at present, but you can. You can definitely handle the emotional road that lies ahead of you. One step at a time. Women have been doing this, (like childbirth), since the beginning of time.
Nothing really can prepare us for childbirth or motherhood and similarly nothing can really prepare us for death or grief of whatever sort. You take each day one day at a time. You find ways that you can cope with each day. Maybe you embrace living in the moment just a little bit more than you previously did, because the future looks so terrifying. And this is a good thing to do. You are so much closer to reality when you engage with death. You can grow strong from your survival of this loss. Very strong – for yourself and for your children, including your child who is no longer with you but will always be your child. And including your future children who may be yet to come.
In the early days after Liberty’s death, I was interested to meet women who were further ahead on the journey than me, partly to try to visualise that there can be a future and also to get an idea of how long it would take me to reach a place where I could ‘be OK’. Over time, I learned that it’s not like that. It is more like reaching a place where you have a new level of understanding about life, where you are no longer pretending to yourself that nothing terrible can or will ever happen. This new reality is scary and hard to process but, ultimately, it can make life more meaningful and offer unlimited opportunity to engage with not only your own life but also your relationships with other people, in ways you would never have been able to access before. Yes it’s scary, but it’s reality, it’s survival and it’s incredibly liberating.
And what’s more – I’M OK. More than OK actually, I’m happy. It’s taken me about 9 years to say that, (but I’m stubborn as hell). It will likely take you a much shorter time that that. Or the rest of your life .. it’s up to you.