Baby Loss Awareness Week: Coping With Baby Loss
Searching for answers
I found so many posts that were titled ‘coping with baby loss’ in the early days when Tabitha died. I read them earnestly trying to find an answer to heal my grief. I wanted to know that everything was going to be ok. I wanted to know what this coping was.
I wanted to know when the magic point in time was for this pain to be over. I would read story after story of heartbreaking loss and try and pinpoint anything that would give me a clue as to how they managed to get out of bed each day and not cry, not feel sad, not be angry.
It sounds awful but I thought that being sad was bad thing. That it wasn't honouring Tabitha. I kept trying to find a cure to my sadness. After all if someone asked me how I was and I said not great the first thing most people would say is are you getting help for that? It made me feel that I should be fixing my grief, that there is a way this could be fixed.
I thought that coping was when you finally reached a place where everything was ok. Coping was your happy face. Coping was being calm, peaceful and accepting. But it's far more than that...
This is coping
Coping is being sad.
Coping is being happy.
Coping is being peaceful.
Coping is being angry.
Coping is crying.
Coping is laughing.
Coping is being scared.
Coping is being hopeful.
Coping is missing them.
Coping is getting out of bed.
Coping is not getting out of bed.
Coping is self care.
Coping is caring for others.
Coping is being at home.
Coping is being at work.
Coping is being on holiday.
Coping is remembering the good times.
Coping is remembering the sad times.
Coping is accepting.
Coping is not accepting.
Get where I'm going with this? I am by no means an expert in coping. I ride the crazy, relentless wave of grief and most of the time don't feel like I'm coping at all. But I go back to this list and it reminds me that no matter what I am feeling I am coping.
However you do it, whenever you do it, just feel your feelings. Grieve how you want to grieve. Do the things you need to do to grieve.
Just do you
Everything is honouring your memories and experiences. You are allowed to have ok days and not ok days. And if someone thinks you should be getting help, it's just their way of making sure you have the support you need in this awful time. It doesn't mean you have to be ok and 'get fixed'.
I realised quite early on that I was never going to be fully ok. This will live with me forever, there is no coming to terms with it. No moving on. Every new day is a reminder that Tabitha isn’t here and she isn’t growing. We learn to manage the grief and find ways of navigating down this very new and awful path. So that’s coping really. But please don’t ask if I’m fixed yet. Instead, if I’m having a bad day, let me. Reassure me that it will pass, but there will be others, but hopefully not as hard as the last one. That it’s ok to feel crap as the situation is crap. I will have good days and bad days but those bad days are an acknowledgment of the love I had for her too. I don’t need to feel bad for feeling sad. Asking someone if they are ok is great as it can make them realise that they may be feeling ok that day and that is good for them. It makes you realise everyday isn’t rubbish.
I think I just wanted to know what my future held. Since the one I thought was happening didn't happen. I realise that I just have to play the long game with this one and that's ok. It took 8 months for me to actually feel angry about losing Tabitha. The 'stages of grief' come at very different times and in very different orders and not all at once! And they last for different lengths and then they come back. And come back differently. Different feelings come at different times and that's ok. It's ok not to know what our future looks like as in the beginning all you can manage is day to day anyway, why on earth would you put myself under any more pressure?
So if you are reading this feeling very confused and unsure and think that you are not coping because you aren't doing something someones way - stop right there. You are doing remarkably to just even get through your day in whatever capacity that might be.
Breathe - it’s all you can do for some time and at multiple times throughout your journey through this so just do that and don’t worry about all the other stuff.
Get to know the new you - you will never be the same person again and your world will never be the same again and if people can’t handle the new you it’s on them - not you.
Mental Health - look after yourself and make yourself the priority. This in turn helps the people you love around you too.
Say no - it doesn’t make you a bad person.
Surround yourself with people that get it - people that get you and follow you into this changed world (not everyone you love does). People that have grieved hard, who understand and let you be you.
Don’t fight your feelings - you wouldn’t expect a soldier suffering from the effects of PTSD to feel fine going back into a war zone. You shouldn’t expect yourself to feel normal around anything related to your loss.
Discover joy from the ordinary.
Seek calm in chaos.
Cut down the noise.
Just be you
Don’t go looking for the right way to grieve. We all have different backgrounds and coping mechanisms. We all have different wishes and wants. Different circumstances. Just know you are not alone and there is no correct way to grieve. I used to think that by keeping positive all the time was the way to be. Don’t be sad about it as it’s a negative feeling. But it’s not. Sadness is also an important feeling as it acknowledges just how important Tabitha was and that I am sad she’s not here. So how could I not be sad?
Feel and don’t overthink it. Don’t think about how you should be, what you should be. I’ve had to keep taking my daughter to preschool, and now school, and there have been really tough days when I remember all the hope I had when I was pregnant with Tabitha. Imagining bringing her down there in the buggy. I never got to do that but I’ve had to see about 10 or so new mums do that since. It’s wonderful but also heartbreaking. I end up crying there a lot! But the amount of support other mums have shown me has been incredible when I think about it. Even if it’s just a touch of my arm or even a message once it makes me realise that other people feel it too.