Your definition of hope, my definition of hope…

“Hope” – noun

  • a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.
  • a feeling of trust

“Hope” – verb

  • want something to happen or be the case

Today I answered a question when submitting content for a book, What is your definition of hope? No-one has asked me this question, nor have I spoken of hope. This word has peppered so many conversations since William died, but never mentioned by myself, because what do I hope for? Honestly, I hope that when I close my eyes tonight, it is for the last time. That when I wake it is with William.

My desire to be with William constantly squares up to the pain that I feel. A daily battle, there is no choice, there is no mercy, no resolve. The only desire I have is for William to be here with me. My life dictated by this desire, some days the hope of not waking for another day over-rides the pain, the hope that tomorrow might not happen. Other days, the pain paralyses me in its unforgiving grip. You see, the only desire i have, will never happen, not ever. Stripped of this desire leaves me with nothing apart from the hope that tomorrow is the first day of my eternal life with William.

Have you tried to live without hope? It doesn’t matter what I have in my life, a good man, a good job, wonderful family and friends, the list is endless, but it’s not William, my son, my world, my life. There is nothing that I wouldn’t sacrifice including my own life to give William his, to give him the chance to breathe, to love, to grow, to learn, to live the life that we gave him. Everything pails into insignificance, there are no variable factors, there is nothing that I would rather have in my life than the opportunity to be with William. I am focusing on William’s Legacy, I am busy, I do work, I am fundraising, I am doing my degree, but these are not reasons to stay here, these are not hope. They are part of a life that I have been left with, not by choice, but forced upon me.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is I would like you to try to understand the difference between your hope and the hope of a bereaved parent.

You hope that your child will sleep through the night so you can get a few hours sleep. I hope that I don’t sleep, because sleep induces nightmares of the day that I found William  in his cot, never to wake again.

You hope you’re doing the right thing, the guilt that disciplining your child brings. I hope that William doesn’t blame me, I hope he doesn’t wonder why I couldn’t save him, the burden of guilt I carry, a heavy weight around my neck, always.

You hope that your child’s first day of school goes smoothly, hope they will be full of smiles when they greet you at the end of the school day. I hope that one day I will get to actually see my child again, hope that I get to see William with my own eyes.

You hope that as your child grows up, makes friends, becomes more independent, that they return to you when they need a hug. I hope that one day I will be able to hold my baby again, physically, be able to smell him, to touch him and to never have to ever let go.

You hope that when your child has flown the nest, you secretly hope they have washing they need to bring home so you get to see them, hope they come home for a meal. I hope that William will be waiting for me, when I arrive in Heaven.

Hope for me is defined as being relieved of the sheer pain that emanates from my heart daily, but knowing this will never happen until I am with my baby again. Hope is that one day people will understand William isn’t replaceable, I don’t want another child, I want the child I had. Hope is that there is more understanding and compassion in a world that can feel so harsh and isolating.

Hope is knowing that one day, I will close my eyes and when I open them, I am with my forever child. I hang onto this. This is my only hope, and I hope that day is tomorrow.

1 thought on “Your definition of hope, my definition of hope…

  1. Yes, hope is a hard one.

    I have had it said to me, “Remember, there is always hope”, and could only wonder at people’s incomprehension of the devastation that your child’s death brings.

    This is not to say that one is going to descend into darkness. Or actually, that’s not quite true. Grief does take you to dark places. It is the most exhausting and terrible of journeys. However, I’ve also realised that, on this journey, love is its own light.

    Love lights me from within. It is what my beautiful daughter left with me–my love for her, hers for me. Nothing can take that away. Not even death.

    I know, from reading your posts here, that you feel the same for your William.

    In a way, it’s a question of semantics. What people mean by “hope”, the idea they are struggling to express, is probably something close to what I’m saying. They just give it the wrong name. “Hope” implies the future, and as children embody the future, the death of one’s child necessarily means (in a very real sense) the death of the future. For bereaved parents, the future has literally been taken away from us.

    I don’t think to myself about “hope”. That word has no meaning for me. I do think to myself about light. I will not let the legacy of my beautiful, precious child be darkness.

    I see it almost in a physical sense–as a choice between light and dark.

    We choose how we live, how we wish to live in response to our child’s death.

    I know my girl, in confronting the illness that took her life, always chose the light. She was never bitter, never resentful, never mean-spirited in response to it. She remained breathtakingly resolute, true to herself and everything she believed in.

    One of the most wonderful things I have had said to me since my girl died is from someone who never met her, who said to me that she has become a presence in their lives. They know her through my love of her. She is vividly alive to them.

    I do not know how much life will be given to me. I will not choose death, but I don’t fear it (those are two different things).

    I choose to live in the light. This is how I live in the world. This is my child’s gift to me.

    It isn’t called “hope”. It’s called love.

    You make your William live for others too, my dear.

    You and your husband remain in my thoughts.
    Take care,


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