Grief never goes away but it constantly changes – without warning. I had never experienced true grief until three months ago when my little boy died. Losing a child is the worst possible grief to experience. It’s all consuming. The pain I feel is unbearable. Some days it’s hard to stay upright. The pain is both physical and mental. It’s endless.
I started craving some form of release from this crippling pain, even if just for a few minutes, because it’s there, from the second I wake up to the second I pass out at night due to medication.
The first time I managed to feel a little release was unexpected, unplanned. I was sat next to my little boy’s grave crying and saying ‘sorry’ over and over again. As I held onto the grass I picked up a sharp-edged stone. Before I even knew what I was doing, I was scratching Ned’s name into my leg. I felt nothing. I paused. The anxiety wasn’t there. I actually felt nothing – for the first time in weeks I was numb. So I carried on. The scratching got deeper. Blood started to trickle. Still nothing and it was bliss.
Once Ned’s name was clear on my leg, smiling, I hid the stone under the little plaque of his name. It was our secret. Just Ned and me. As I walked home, the pain and anxiety hit me once again, but I clung onto that tiny glimmer that I had found a way to relieve the pain just for a few minutes.
So that’s what I did, as I sat next to Ned every night. I scratched away – always Ned’s name. My wrist, my ankles, my knees. But then it stopped. It stopped numbing my pain. It was making me angry. Angry that I was sitting there making a mess of myself. It was never going to bring Ned back. And that realisation stopped it from working. It no longer numbed my raw pain, it was adding to it. I had to stop. But I desperately needed something else, anything that would stop the awfulness for a few seconds.
Sadly, I found a new form of release in taking tablets. The first time it was just a handful more than I should. The second time, a few more. I ended up in A&E having overdosed six times in the space of three weeks. My intention was never to end my life. I have two other sons who I love with all my being and would never do anything to harm them in any form. But I was taking enough to knock me out because then I didn’t feel.
The last episode was only last week, but I’ve turned a corner since then which is why I am able to write about this. I lay awake all night and thought, ‘No, I have to stop this. I have to try and live some form of life, for my two boys and for Ned. I have to keep his memory alive.’ I cried and cried, but I felt something; something other than crippling pain. It’s a tiny glimmer, this something. It’s right at the back of my head and some days I can’t find it. But there have been days in the last week when I have.
One of these days was last Friday when the cover for my debut book was released. A book with my name on it. My dream come true. A book that I will dedicate to my beautiful little Ned. Yes, it’s bittersweet because he’s not here to share in it, but it’s for him and his name will be in the book, just like he wanted.
The support I received on Twitter following the release of the cover was overwhelming and I thank every single person who sent me messages. They really do keep me going. Because after all, ‘Grace-Ella: Spells for Beginners’ is the first in a series, so I have more books to write. And on those days when I can find that tiny glimmer in my head, I truly believe that I will be able to live and write and be me. Not the old me. A new me. A new me who has words to put on the page. A new me who has two little boys physically in my life, and a very special little boy who lives in my heart.
It won’t be easy, I know that. There will be cripplingly bad days when that glimmer doesn’t exist (yesterday was one). But there will be ok days, never good any more, but ok. And when you’ve lived for three months in a dark pain-filled hole, ok is good.