real life

Bec Sparrow and Mia Freedman on the darkness and light of losing a child.

When Rebecca Sparrow’s baby daughter died, she didn’t know anyone who had been through anything remotely similar. It was completely uncharted territory.

In hospital, having lived through the trauma of delivering Georgie, Bec – a Brisbane-based writer and columnist – was casting around for words that made sense to her. And she remembered Mia Freedman’s book Mamamia, and the passages Mia had written about losing her own daughter, May.

Bec wanted that book in her hospital room. She asked a friend to bring it to her, and that friend wrote to Mia about Bec. It was the beginning of an important friendship, forged through the shared experience of the worst moments imaginable and a relationship that began with a torrent of searingly honest emails is now six years old.

 "You pulled me through the waves of grief, Mia," says Bec now. "You didn't even know me... you and I just started this extraordinary friendship... I wouldn't be as okay as I am if I hadn't met you."

Mia sits down with Bec, the writer behind the successful Ask Me Anything, a book of wisdom for young girls, to talk about loss, light and the black humour that pulled them both through:

Listening is like taking lessons in surviving trauma from two fast friends. Lessons like:

How you live with immeasurable grief?

"You have to put your pain in your back pocket...and so for me to function on a day to day level, and get my stuff done and be a mother, and write stories and do my books and packs lunch boxes, I cannot dwell. There are chosen moments where I will go there, and I will unpack all of that grief. But on a day-to-day level, it's not functional."

Bec with her children Ava, Fin and Quincy. 

What do you say when someone asks you how many children you have?

"Somebody said to me yesterday - 'You have four children don't you?' And I had to say I had three. And inside I was like 'YOU HAVE FOUR'."

For the answer to that one, you'll need to listen to the whole conversation, here:

Or listen to it in iTunes, here, open in another window, here, or download Mamamia's podcast app here.

If this has raised any issues for you or if you would like to speak with someone, please contact the Sands Australia 24 hour support line on 1300 072 637.