People said the first anniversary would be terrible, both the build-up and the aftermath. It’s like when someone tells you something is physically painful but you don’t quite believe it until you do it. Childbirth springs to mind. Although I anticipated all of this, it was just incredibly tough. May and June have been funny months. I took voluntary redundancy and left my job where I spent eight great years career wise and made some friends I would call family. Not great timing you might say but one of the ‘super powers’ you get when you suffer a major loss is that for the most part, taking such a step is less frightening as it once may have been.
What I have learnt from losing my baby son is that the lights go out from time to time. April and some of May were my best months yet; we had a lot of fun and there was plenty of joy. I had my first girls holiday in years and we never stopped laughing. I am prepared for the lights to flicker as they do and have found ways to cope. Sometimes they fully go out and you are back in that awful pit trying to climb back out but don’t have the energy to do so; I wasn’t prepared for that when it happened recently. What I understand now is that in the early months and years of grief, there are no reserves left for much more trauma. You really are standing on the edge of a cliff doing your very best for the wind not to blow you over. When those lights go out, there is simply no gas in the tank. The support of those around you is vital and the understanding that there are no reserves; it’s quite literally staying on the edge of the cliff or falling over. There is less to give to others in these early days; I’m thankful that people understand that.
‘Hope is the beacon that guides us to tomorrow’ is something I wrote about in the earlier days and it is something I dearly hold on to as I read it again tonight. Here are some of the things that worked then and helped me through the latest wave:
Anger is tiring; find your voice and take up boxing: Finding your voice through writing is hugely beneficial when grieving a great loss. Anger comes and goes; a certain amount is healthy but ditch the rest if at all possible. And dig out the boxing gloves!
Exercise is essential: Exercise continues to be my go to pill. It can often keep the light flickering; it’s so important to make it a top priority.
I am in your corner: I spoke about how warm those words were to hear from a dear friend of mine; it transformed my anticipation about my return to work. Seek out someone who is struggling and tell them you are in their corner and watch the magical reaction.
Love and support should be in tablet form: People who are grieving and struggling through difficult challenges in life need people who are willing to hold space for them. Without this, the wind can simply blow you over the cliff.
It is ok to say no: There will always be triggers. Some of them are starting to get a little easier. I recently held an old friends twin babies; they were so beautiful, it was a big step for me and I’m so glad I did it. I appreciated her kindness and understanding so much. It is ok to say no to some that are still unbearable.
My hope is that the lights won’t go out as often as time passes. I know there will always be times when the lights will flicker and the gaping hole in your heart expands wider during that time. It is what it is. I know that taking the bold step to take a jump to the next curve of my life was the right thing to do. When I reflect on these choices I smile because I know what gave me that kick; my children Lily and Bobby and my husband Des.
Hope was something I found hard to find when we lost Bobby. Holding hope for others continues to be the legacy that is Bobby. I have some exciting plans for my professional life as well as giving back to other bereaved families. To put it simply ‘Helping others to turn the lights back on’.
What can you do to help someone turn the lights back on?