B is for Broken.
Broken family ripped to shreds,
Thoughts of why running through their heads.
Broken brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts,
All begin to walk this dance.
Broken lives not the same,
Long to just get out of the game.
Broken bodies, blame themselves,
Could something, someone have helped?
Broken pregnancies, ended too soon,
Heaven sees an angel baby boom.
Broken speech, can’t find the words,
This can’t have happened, it’s absurd.
Broken eyes, begin to leak,
Making our bodies feel weak.
Broken sleep, no release,
Will the terror ever ease?
Broken thoughts, going insane,
All these thoughts running through my brain.
Broken homes, awaiting new life,
Instead see death, cuts like a knife.
Broken nurseries, cribs unused,
Wardrobes full of clothes and shoes.
Broken friends don’t know what to say,
They sadly turn and walk away.
Broken communities, shook to the core,
Happens to often, behind closed doors.
Broken hearts that never mend,
Patched up, plastered over, on their way sent.
Broken dreams, wishes taken,
From this nightmare never awaken.
Broken family ripped to shreds
Thoughts of why running through their heads.
Copyright Melanie Scott October 2012 (If copying please cite authors name date and this web link).
There is a weird period of time in the timescale of grief. I don’t know if it arrives for everybody at the same time, but I would bet money on the fact that it appears for all. When your baby or child dies the world can become a very dark place. It can seem like you are fighting just to stay alive, there can seem to be no point to the day.
I discovered the battle of organising the funeral and volunteered for this. In the war zone that had become my life I spent hours each day searching music, readings, flowers. We had tasks to do, even if they were incredibly hard. There were missions out into enemy territory – the real world. The real world where everything seems too bright, too loud, too happy and full of traps to catch you. Booby traps like shelves of nappies in unexpected places in shops, or the screaming baby around every corner. The venture into the most dangerous place of all Mothercare, where instead of being on R&R with our family we were facing large numbers of enemy troops and booby traps trying to find an outfit for our newborn to wear in his forever bed, before we buried him.
The battle of the funeral ended in a stalemate, with no ground won or lost. And the hours after the funeral, when my mind debriefed suddenly became quiet. The shock and realisation hit me that all of the other soldiers, my comrades were going on R&R tomorrow.
A few weeks after Finley was born and my life looked like a no man’s land on a misty morning. I woke up one day and suddenly I was on my own in a barren, burnt and blackened piece of land. The mist had come down and I could not see anybody. I knew they must be there because the war is over, but to find them I had to find the courage to walk out in a world that looked different. A world with different landmarks and slightly hazy, dim views. On the other side of that patch of land life is green and bright, life has carried on for other people. I am surrounded by the letters that were left, all of them saying if you need anything just ask. But the people that left those letters are long gone.
I picked up the phone but the line is burnt and they can’t hear me, my voice was shaken and I couldn’t hear. After a while I began to venture into the wasteland, always heading back because it just seemed to far to get across that No Man’s Land of my Grief.
It’s a very lonely, scary walk to find your way across that land, when you have become accustomed to being alone and in the greyness. Sometimes a friendly hand, or word in that space of time from maybe 2-6 months is when it is most needed.
As the time goes by, I am 2 and half years After Finley, the interactions have changed. The emotion is not so raw and I get a simple kind of pleasure and pride about hearing people say how Finley has stayed in their hearts, how their lives have changed, how when they heard the news they held their child, imagining what it would be like to not lose that. If one person appreciates their life more because of Finley then his life has not been wasted. He lives on through their smiles.
People are able to remember their baby, or a baby that they know in two ways through my work. They can fundraise and dedicate a cold cot in memory of their baby to a hospital. They can also donate £30 and a butterfly box will be supplied to a hospital, with a letter in explaining who it is supplied in memory of. Specific items can also be donated to us, to be included in butterfly boxes.
I want to write,
Have nothing to say.
I want to sleep,
It’s the end of the day.
I want it to stop,
My mind ‘s started to fray.
All of this hurt
I can’t stand it this way.
I want to go back,
Wish I could replay.
I want time again,
I have so much to say.
I want to hold you,
Why couldn’t you stay.
My heart’s really heavy,
Let me heal, that’s all I pray.
Melanie Scott 2012
I would like to introduce Jana. Jana is our first guest blog post. Jana is an inspiration, I am often in tears reading some of the stories shared at Band Back Together. It is a safe, solid place of hope – completely reflecting those strengths from it’s creator.
“But it’s been over a year. You shouldn’t be so sad anymore.”
Is there anything harder to hear when you’ve lost a child than that? Well, probably, but not many other things.
The biggest misconception about grief is that there’s a beginning and an end to it. We all know there’s a beginning. It the “event.” It’s the miscarriage, stillbirth, sudden death of your infant. It’s the accident that takes the life of your toddler. It’s the childhood cancer that robs your child of a future.
But when does grieving end?
My answer is simply this: it doesn’t. It changes.
Eight years out from the loss of my 24 day old son, Charlie, I can tell you that grieving never ends. It only changes.
Shortly after my son died, a friend told me that grieving was like having a rock in your shoe that you can’t remove.
At first, that rock cuts you and makes your foot bleed. It hurts with every step you take. After a while, you figure out how to wiggle the rock into the side of your shoe so it doesn’t cut you and hurt with every single step.
Time goes by. The rock occasionally gets back under your foot and cuts you. It makes you bleed and hurts like crazy. But then you wiggle it away faster and it’s less painful again.
Grief is like that rock. It’s never going away. You simply learn to live with it and walk tall in your daily life, honoring and remembering your child.
By honoring and remembering your child, you are loving them. Yes, I think grieving equals loving.
Some may say that my talking about Charlie and being sad that he’s not here is unhealthy and that I’ve been grieving too long. Eight years is too long? I know a few women who are over 70 who still tear up when their child who died is mentioned.
Talking about Charlie and continuing to allow myself to be sad at times is an extension of my LOVE for him.
I love my living child with all my being and I love my angel baby with all my being. If he were here, I would do things because of him. Even though he’s not here, I still do those things. Each time I find myself doing something because of him or talking about him, I find myself falling more in love with him. I’m sad. But it’s a feeling of love.
By holding the hand of a newly grieving mother, I’m loving Charlie.
When I reach out to someone on Twitter who has just experienced a miscarriage or loss, I do it because I am honoring Charlie and remembering him.
When I ask pregnant women if they’ve been tested for Group B Strep (it’s standard protocol in the US to test between 35-37 weeks). I do this because I would do anything to keep someone else from having to love their child without being able to hold them in their arms.
The outreach I do with Band Back Together, I do in memory of Charlie. I do it because I love him and I love to help others.
It’s my hope that as the length of time grows from the last touch of your child’s hand to the present, your love for him or her can grow. Grief is rough. It’s hard and tough to get through.
But if you remember that by grieving your child, you’re loving them, maybe it’ll be a little bit easier.
There has been a lot of discussion this week, through articles, blog posts and comments in response to various aspects of Jim and Michelle Duggar’s story. Many people that are commenting publicly have not experienced the loss of the child and have been very negative in the comments made about the way the Duggar family has chosen to grieve the loss of their baby Jubilee.Jubilee is the second miscarriage that the couple have experienced.
Here are some of the links to posts about the Duggar’s choices.
Perezito – described the creative process of photographing your dead baby as terrifying.
The daily beast - Quotes Dr Susan Newman as describing the sharing of photographs as distasteful.
Psychology Today – Deborah Davis writes a moving letter to Jim and Michelle Duggar, “Showing the photographs at Jubilee’s memorial service was such a touching and fitting tribute to your baby girl. Making them available to the public is provoking both compassion and outrage. Compassion is coming from those who empathize. Outrage is coming from those who are frightened.”
I have had a terrific response to my own blog post sharing why parents may find taking photographs of their baby comforting. You can read it here.
I have posted this linky to bring together all of the blog posts written by angel parents in support of the choices that Jim and Michelle Duggar made. It is my opinion that death and grief and in particular the very distressing death of a child during pregnancy or after birth are not discussed, which makes parents feel shame for the choices they make. They also sometimes feel guilt over the things they did not do at the time of their loss. I have spoken with many parents who regret not seeing their baby, kissing or touching them. Many do not know that it is “allowed” to do this, many worry what people will think or say. Comments like the ones Jim and Michelle Duggar will harm the choices the angel parents of the future face. Instead of healing they will feel shame, guilt and regret.
Please feel add links to your blog posts about the taking of and sharing of photos of stillborn, and miscarried babies. Let’s break the silence.
EXTRACT FROM AFTER FINLEY
Any minute now there’ll be two new babies in the family. I’ll be an aunty twice over. Everyone will be excited. And Finley will be forgotten.
It’s almost three months since Finley was born and I still can’t quite grasp it. Time moves so fast. It helps that I’ve got all these events to focus on. There’s the International Wave of Light and the Megan’s World fundraiser for Cameron and Carter’s headstone. But things aren’t getting any easier. With the new babies due, it’s all playing so heavily on my mind.
Ever since my godson was born, all I’ve wanted is to have a baby of my own. As we’ve watched him grow (and spoiled him no end), I’ve pictured what it would be like with my own. I’ve watched my friends and my cousins become parents, aunts and uncles. All these years, and now I’m going to be an aunty myself. Right when I don’t think I can do it. I don’t think I can be in the room with a newborn baby. I don’t think I can hold my niece or nephew. Because it hurts so much. Physically hurts. When I go out, I see prams and babies everywhere I look. If I hear a baby cry, my body thinks it’s my baby. I know it’s not my baby. That my baby isn’t here. But my body doesn’t seem to know. Or care. How am I going to be able to hold my newborn niece and nephew when my body reacts like that?
I just want you to be here. I don’t want to hold everyone else’s baby. I want you here in my arms where you are supposed to be.
My body is here to look after you; I want to look after you. My arms automatically make your shape.
My hand is here to stroke your face. I can feel what it would be like to hold you and feel your breath on my neck as you snuggle in close.
I want to be able to smell your head and sigh over the new baby smell. I want to be the one discussing whether your eyes will change colour, or who you look like.
Instead, I have to wonder forever what colour eyes you have.
This was written almost two years ago. I have to say it gets easier. I am an Aunty again now, a third time to my little niece. And there is another baby due soon, so I will be Aunty for the fourth time. I can hold my little niece, and my now not so little niece and nephew and not think of Finley automatically. I even felt myself get broody the other day when I was holding my niece. My nephew makes me think wistfully I wonder what Finley would be doing now. Of course there have been moments that upset me. My niece could have died. My mother in law told me that she had the cord wrapped around her and was not breathing when she was born. I burst into tears immediately, and was so relieved she was ok. But a part of me just thought well why did Finley die – he did not have a problem with his cord. Part of me still, even two years on thinks “why me”? But that physical reaction to the close proximity of a baby has gone now. And that hurting in my tummy, deep down in my tummy, that ache has gone now.
Sometimes I even smile and enjoy being an Aunty.
It has struck me tonight that perhaps you can never truly know the pain of losing a child until you have a child? I have been watching comic relief on the television. Usually I can watch it, and I cry. Of course I cry at the real life films of where the money goes. But that was what I focused on… Where the money goes. Tonight it was different. I had to stop watching. All I could see in the eyes of those Mothers was the pain of my soul reflected in their eyes through the TV set. Perhaps I never saw it before, perhaps I never understood it. Perhaps I just did not want to see it. But this year, this time, tonight it was different. I watched, and I knew. Last year I lost a child, but we had had no children to know what we had lost. I know what I imagined, and I grieved the loss of that imagined future, that imagined child. But now, now I have a beautiful daughter. She is here, she breathes, she is alive and she is well. Now I know.Now I know what I have lost, what I will never have, and what those mothers in countries far away have lost too. A mothers love, a child’s needs, an endless supply cut off mid stream. Nowhere to go, nothing to hold.