Trigger warning: This post deals with the death of a child and may distress some readers.
Six weeks ago my 14-month-old son Archer died in his sleep.
Over the past six weeks I have read countless stories (possibly every story/blog/article on the internet) looking for ways to help me cope. Searching desperately for answers, for a magical cure to make the pain go away, just to find someone who feels the same way I do.
Through the stories I’ve read, I’ve come to realise that people tend to avoid going into too much detail about their ‘behind the scenes’ experience. They skim the top. They say how they feel and how it has affected their lives but I couldn’t find one thing about how the real grieving occurs.
Maybe it’s taboo. Maybe no one wants to read it because it’s too painful. Maybe it’s inappropriate.
I don’t know.
What I do know though is there are so many different layers of grief you have to deal with when you lose a child, layers that I am still in the early stages of unravelling but there is one thing that has given me even a glimpse of relief (if you could even call it that) and that was having another mother in the exact same situation as me, reach out.
We started sending essays to each other over Facebook one night, and every single detail, every inch of heartache, every crazy thought – we could truly say to each other, “I know exactly how you feel,” and even if the feeling only lasted for a few hours, I truly felt like I wasn’t alone.
I write everything down. Through my first pregnancy I wrote every detail and throughout my daughter’s life I documented countless pages of milestones and things she had achieved.
For some reason I never wrote as much about my second pregnancy, maybe I was too busy, but now, obviously, I wish I had.
Unfortunately, all the writing I will now be doing about my son will only be memories.
The real face of grief is not the 5 seconds it takes to post a photo and a caption of the person you miss on Facebook, it’s the behind-the-scenes that most people are lucky enough to never witness.
It’s the images of the morning ‘it’ happened. As the weeks go by your brain unlocks more and more horrible memories one by one.
It’s the screaming, the yelling and the image of his face in your head that you will never you will never forget.
It’s the screaming and yelling at the paramedics when they tell you that they’re trying to revive your baby – they’re telling you to calm down, even though you both know that it is far too late.
It’s remembering the urgency and pain in your husband’s voice as he woke you up that morning. It’s the policeman guarding your baby’s bedroom and placing evidence stickers around the room like a crime scene.