"It's been 6 months and 23 days since whooping cough took Riley from us."

It’s been over half a year since Riley died. His mother Catherine shares her journey in grief.

It has been 6 months and 23 days since whooping cough took Riley from us.

The evening we left the children’s hospital without Riley in our arms, we were in absolute shock. Somehow, my husband managed to drive us home, although we pulled over half way home to rip out the baby capsule from the back of the car.

That evening was spent sobbing, notifying people, checking in his bassinet to make sure this wasn’t just a bad dream (how I wish it was!), and grabbing his blankets to cuddle. I went to bed and just cried and cried until I blacked out.

Scroll through to the beautiful images of Riley and his family. (Post continues after gallery.)

The next morning I had planned to spend the rest of my day – week- maybe life- in bed. But our three year old arrived home from her grandparents’ house, close friends and family came over to comfort us, and my husband begged me to get up.

The first week is a total blur of crying, funeral preparations, friends and family cooking and cleaning for us, speaking to the media about whooping cough and the importance of immunisation, giving away some of his things that we couldn’t bare to look at, and trying to support our daughter.

One thing I remember is the absolute physical pain of missing my baby. It’s an ache that I can’t properly describe, but I know many parents out there who have lost a baby and felt similar.

The last photo taken of Riley and his sister before they went to the hospital.

The funeral was beautiful and heart-wrenching at the same time. Our daughter loved seeing so many friends and family all at once, and had fun spotting the kangaroos in the nearby bushes. I can’t bring myself to go back there, because it reminds me of his death. Instead I sometimes go down to the jetty near our house, where I took him and our daughter for walks, and look out at the water and just think about him.

We attended grief counselling which helped process our emotions, especially as my husband and I were grieving differently.

I thought the grieving process would be linear – I thought each day would be a little better than the last. It doesn’t seem to work like that at all though, instead it’s more like a couple of steps forward, a couple of steps back. And as each day progresses, it’s further away from the last time I held him, which also makes me sad.

Some days I feel like the old me, other days I’m a wreck. For the most part, I just try to be grateful that I am alive at the ripe old age of twenty eight, a chance that Riley never had.

No doubt the kindness we’ve received from the community has helped the both of us with our grief, so from the bottom of our hearts, thank you xxx

Do you have any words you would like to share with Riley’s mother, Catherine?