Editor’s note: This post deals with sensitive content that may be triggering for some readers. If you too have lost a child to stillbirth, and are looking for support, please visit this website.
I used to think grief was just sadness. I now know it’s not. It’s all the other feelings too. All…at…the same…time.
Grief is the harsh, cruel pain of holding your stillborn son in your arms, whilst feeling utter pride and unbearable love for this perfect, yet breathless little life.
It’s your mind playing tricks on you; saying your baby is just sleeping. Then the overwhelming reality when you realise he’s not waking up.
It’s smiling down at your baby as you take in all his features that come from you and the only other person you love just as much – your husband and father of this child. At the same time, it’s wiping away tears of horror that you will not get to take your baby home and your family is forever changed.
Ann-Marie and her husband. Image supplied.
It’s the relief of walking away from the hospital where your worst fears were realised, whilst your legs are buckling beneath you from the weight of your empty arms.
And that’s just the beginning. You then have go on living. You have to step out into the world with a blended up mess of emotions, and not a clue where to begin.
So you take your first steps.
You still have to eat, so you drag yourself to the grocery store. But this once simple task, feels almost unachievable. There are pregnant women; and dad’s pushing prams; and children screaming in the lolly section. Your heart aches because you are part of this ‘parent club’ too but your baby is gone. And once again your legs buckle beneath you from the weight of your empty arms.
Yet you continue on. Down the cereal aisle, up to get milk. Over to the frozen pizza section because that’s all you can fathom ‘cooking’ right now. Your grief feels palpable. It’s like a strong energy force surrounding you. And a little paranoia creeps in as you imagine that people can see it by just glancing at you. I remember feeling like everyone in the shopping centre knew…like a had a neon sign above me saying “bereaved mum walking”.