A New Year

Thoughts from a grieving mam…

Christmas came, and thankfully it went. It was heartbreakingly difficult, but we had to make sure that Tomi and Cai had a lovely time. Thanks to close family and friends, I think we succeeded.

I’ve been told that as a bereaved parent, the first of everything without the dead child is the most difficult. I don’t think it will ever be less difficult. Ned’s absence in our house is so prominent – from the angry outbursts and slamming of doors by our eldest son, to the curled up ball on my lap of my youngest; the silence of my husband and the endless tears from me.

I dreaded New Year, the change of the date. In 2016, Ned passed his Stage 2 swimming test and his 10m badge. In 2016, Ned had his fifth birthday party at home where we made party hats. In 2016, we were told by the school that Ned was a gifted and talented pupil.

In 2017 … nothing. There will be no new memories to be made with Ned. This simple fact has really punched me in the gut and screamed in my ear: He’s gone. Two simple words yet their weight sit on my shoulders and wear me to the ground day after day after day. He never even lost a tooth and had a chance to receive that magical coin from the tooth fairy. He never got to ride his bike without his stabilisers. He never got to build a snowman or go sledging. He never got to be six years old.

So what do I do in this new year? How do I live? I have to because my two other boys deserve to have the best life that I can possibly give them. This new year didn’t give me the best of starts – it threw appendicitis at me. This meant four days in hospital. Four days to do an awful lot of thinking about what lies ahead (even though I know with certainty that tomorrow can be snatched away from you in the blink of an eye).

I tried to write a list but I stared at the empty sheet of paper. Everything feels so meaningless, so unimportant. There are only three things that I ended up with:

  1. Breathe
  2. Be the best mam that I possibly can
  3. Write

Right now, I’m just about succeeding. I wake up and tell myself to breathe. I do what I can for my boys. This afternoon I will go and cheer on Tomi in the school swimming gala because I can picture his beaming smile when he spots me in the crowd. It will be utter torture. I panic in crowds. The last time I was at the pool was two days before Ned died when he gave me a thumbs up and the biggest, dimpliest smile in the world when he swam 10m on his back. But Tomi needs my support so I have to live through that pain and not break down for his sake.

I am writing. I am writing the second ‘Grace-Ella’ book. Some days, my mind won’t settle on the story I want to tell so I write something else – a poem, a blog piece, anything as it helps me to settle and to breathe easier which in return helps me to be Mam. This is all that matters to me.

Not a minute of the day passes without I think about Ned. I miss him so much it makes my heart hurt. This pain I know I must carry for as long as I’m alive.

Each of us have our own tales to tell. Life takes us all on different paths. We make decisions, we plan ahead, but essentially, we have no control over the story of our lives. We don’t get to choose the ending, the decision is made for us.

For me, there will be no happy ending to my story, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t tell it, because writing my story may well help someone else out there, someone else living the same lonely, tortuous nightmare.

I’ll tell my story for one reason and one reason alone – to keep the memory of my son burning like a beacon in the darkest of hours. He was here. He was alive – my little boy lost, Ned.

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4 thoughts on “A New Year

  1. Your list is so important – for you and those around you – it’s a manifesto for staying alive. I wish you strength every day and hope that time allows you to live again rather than just survive. Your words are heartbreaking to read, but I make myself read them because I know it took such courage to write them. Your words are being read, so keep writing.

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  2. Thank you for such a lovely message. I would write my blog even if I knew that no one read it because it helps me focus and keeps me writing. I can’t see the day that I will ever live rather than survive – I don’t think it’s possible after losing a child. You learn to keep going with your heart in pieces and you learn to be an ‘actress’, to put that brave face on.

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  3. Whoah, a tough read but I cannot even begin to imagine how you must feel – so thank you so much for sharing this. The list, as Elaine says, is hugely important and it must’ve been so tough to write it knowing that there will always be times where you’ll feel like faltering. But with huge support and help from others around you and the love of your friends and family, that can help a lot, having an ‘anchor’ to come back to.

    Amazing post, thank you so much for sharing Sharon.

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  4. Thank you for commenting. Yes, there are days when I feel like I can’t bear the pain any longer. On those days I feel like closing my eyes and drifting away. But you’re right, I have amazing friends who have been on this journey from the very beginning; friends who I know will not leave my side. And of course, my two other boys are my anchor. They’re the ones that stop me from tipping over that enticing precipice.

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