wellness

LEIGH CAMPBELL: 'People don’t really want you to talk about your loved one who died.'

I made a new friend on Instagram over the past few years. Her name is Rachael. We somehow connected due to our fertility journeys - I was blogging about my decision to cease IVF at the time while Rachael and her husband were (and still are) on a mission to have their rainbow baby after the death of their daughter, Mackenzie.

Mackenzie was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy and passed away at 7 months of age. Rachael and her husband have since become fierce advocates for genetic testing and have written an incredible book about their journey, which was released a few weeks ago.

As I got to know Rachael, first through DMs and text messages and then in real life, I noticed how much she posted about her daughter.

Watch: Robin Bailey on losing her Dad at a young age. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia

I thought to myself, and I probably even verbalised to my husband, “She talks about it a lot. I think maybe too much. I don’t think she’s found the tools to move on or get over it.”

Though in the past few weeks I have come to understand Rachael. 

Last month my father passed away, at home in palliative care, after a year-long battle with brain cancer. 

I’m not, even for a second, saying that I feel or can imagine the pain Rachael experiences. Outliving your child is unnatural, it’s not the way it is supposed to be. The death of my father, while crushing, is the natural course of life. 

From it though, I have learnt now why Rachael talks about her daughter who died, still. And so often.

But people don’t really want you to talk about your loved one who died. 

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Not because it’s a sad or morbid topic. And not even because they can’t find the right words to say. 

It’s because they love you. 

People assume if you keep talking about the person who died you’re not healing or moving on or getting closure. When friends hear you talk about the person who died they worry you’re in a bad place, and naturally want to help you get over it. 

But the thing is, grief isn't a period of time that begins and ends. The death isn't an event in time that you go through and come out the other side of, the same as you were before, unchanged or unaffected.






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You can come back now 💔

A post shared by  Leigh Campbell (@leighacampbell) on

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When someone you have known and loved your whole life leaves the earth, they leave a gaping abyss in your heart, and in your future. 

They lived. They existed. And their existence is so entwined with yours that to try to close a proverbial door in the name of moving on is to try to lock away what makes you who you are. 

Talking about them fills a very small part of the hole left. With memories, with honour, and with a bittersweet reflection that makes you feel close to them in a way you’ll never physically get to be again. 

Grief is the price you pay for loving someone so wholly. It’s a tax. And I’d pay it a million times over to have the kind of father I had. I’ll pay that tax every day now. It’s the fee exchanged for the love. 

I understand now why Rachael talks about Mackenzie so much.

I think about my dad for most of each day. It makes me feel sad and also happy and close to him. But I stop myself from talking about him because I don’t want the people who love me to worry.

Though now that I’ve learnt that the grief of my father dying is something that’ll come with me to work, and to daycare drop off, I won’t try to help friends move past loss when it happens to them. I’ll see them carrying their grief, too. Paying their tax for love.

And when I see Rachael next, I’m going to ask her to tell me all of her favourite stories about Mackenzie.

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