The conflicting emotions of a bereaved parent

William in his final outfit xx

William in his final outfit xx

I can remember back when I sat down on Thursday 18th December, 2014, and I typed into Google ‘baby coffins’, closely followed by ‘coffins for children’. It was about 4 pm and I had been awake since the 14th of December. I knew we would have to pick a coffin, but when the funeral director mentioned to us that we would need to pick one I didn’t want to, I didn’t want to search for it, I didn’t want to see it, I did not want to know. I knew I had to pick it. I knew I couldn’t delay the decision, my little boy was coming home from his post-mortem and he would need somewhere to sleep. It took all day of staring at the screen to raise my trembling hands and type those words into Google. I didn’t want to but I knew I had to, but I also knew I had to get it right, it had to be perfect, this would, after all be William’s final little bed. Rather than moving William into his toddler bed, we were preparing to encase our little boy in the most beautiful satin. A bed that once closed would never be opened again. This decision was agonising, my whole being pulled in every direction. My mind was screaming WHY, WHY, WHY, my heart was screaming NO, NO, NO but my head was trying desperately to fight to make this decision.

We did make a decision, and on Christmas Eve at 3 pm, William’s coffin arrived, and instead of taking him to sit on Father Christmas’ knee with our family, I opened the door at the funeral directors, alone, and I opened the lid, and there was my little William, the fierce pain that drove me to walk forwards, the intensity of love that allowed me to wrap my arms around my delicate little boy and lift him into my arms.

The mother in me that needed to nurture him, he was cold, he needed to be warm. Being torn in two, I didn’t want to be sat there holding my little boy like this, but I knew I needed to dress him. Paul and I had carefully picked out the little clothes that he would wear. The little baby grow, ‘Mummy’s little star’ emblazoned across the front, could not have been more perfect. He is mummy’s little star, and now he really was the brightest star in the night sky. I was shocked how hard it was to dress him, it was easier to dress William when he was wriggling all over the place, but now, he couldn’t help me, his weight so heavy in my arms. We had picked his little birthday outfit to wear. We didn’t want to let these clothes go, we wanted to hold onto them forever, but we knew that his little first birthday party was so happy, we have so many photos of William in that little outfit. So we knew we had to do it. Before doing the little button up on his chinos, I took the opportunity to poke that little bum, still so squidgy. After putting his stripey little top on, I pulled his socks on, and I couldn’t help but let out a little giggle as I talked to him, and made him promise mummy that he wouldn’t take them off. He didn’t promise, but he didn’t take them off. I wish he could. We didn’t put any shoes on him, he didn’t like shoes, the shoes he took his first steps in are now hanging on our wall at home.

The shoes of 'those' first steps xx

The shoes of ‘those’ first steps xx

After dressing my precious little boy, I sat in the box chair, my legs over the arms, cuddling my little boy into me, so tight, and I broke, I hated this, I hated this so much but I loved it, I loved holding him, I felt safe, I felt at home, I felt like we were one. His beautiful hair was still so shiny, so much hair, I ran my fingers through it as my tears soaked their way through. The glitter still in his ear, from the little Christmas Tree he’d made us on his last day of nursery. I now knew I’d made the right decision to ask the pathologist not to wash him. I couldn’t bare to think at the time my beautiful little boy laid out in an operating theatre to be washed with cold water, but I knew I had to ask them not to, I knew I needed to see this glitter in his ear again. There it was. A painful but beautiful reminder of my little boy having fun.

When i knew William was going to have a post-mortem I toyed with the decision of whether to look at the scar. I knew I would. I had to know. I didn’t want to know, but I had to. I did look. A red raw Y right there, it was horrible, someone had touched my little boy, someone had hurt him, but I knew they hadn’t, I knew they’d been gentle, the scar, just like red pen. I spoke to the pathologist that carried out William’s post-mortem, I didn’t want to, but I had to talk to the man who had known my little William, had seen his beautiful little soul. Amongst other things, he said to me, ‘he’s simply so beautiful, such a lovely little boy’ I hated that, but I loved that, even in death he was beautiful. I had asked him not to cut or shave William’s hair, I just couldn’t bear that, to strip him of the feature that made him look like a little boy and not a baby. He didn’t, you could barely see the scar. I traced my finger along the stitches, I slowly covered them up with William’s locks, a scar never to be seen again.

William was 70 cm long when he died. Too long for a baby coffin, but too small for an infant coffin. We placed a little teddy with him to keep him company, a photo of his mummy and daddy on his chest, his arms wrapped around us both. How I wish I was going with him, to not be trapped here without him. Everyday I struggle with this inner fight. Not wanting death to separate us, I fight not to join him, knowing how precious life is, but at times, and more often than not, this fight is impossible. Living, existing, but not really wanting too, but not wanting to die either.

I didn’t want to see William this way, but I knew it was the only way that I would be able to, so I did, everyday until the day I was no longer able to. Sometimes if I was able, I visited him twice a day. Christmas Day I sat with him alone, my coat wrapped around him, his head resting on my chest, I closed my eyes, and for the first time since he fell asleep, I could fall asleep, safe in the knowledge that he was here, with me, where he belonged.

January 3rd, the day the angels came to earth and took my boy away, 9.45 am, that was the last time I ever saw my son. Ever. I couldn’t close the lid, but I did, because I knew it had to be me. How could I close the lid on my son, knowing I would never see him again. Darkness enveloped me as I stood staring at my boy for the last time, but I knew that I had to turn around and leave him. It hurts, it hurts now, it really fucking hurts. It hurts, knowing that was me, it was me who closed that lid, it was me that walked out backwards, not taking my eyes off him. It was me standing in the way of the light that would take him. In that moment I knelt on the floor and I prayed to God to take me too. I begged him, like I begged William to wake up, our cheeks touching, as I wailed on the floor next to him. God didn’t listen and he wasn’t listening now, if he was he wasn’t doing much about it. It’s not his fault though, I know that. There is one person who the ultimate responsibility for William falls, and that is me, one of the biggest conflicts of all. I know it wasn’t my fault, I know that, I would have, and still would do anything to put breath back in his body, but I couldn’t save him. I tried, I fought so hard. I fought with every ounce of my body and my soul to get him the help he needed, but he didn’t get it. There are people out there who know this and they will live with this knowledge for the rest of their lives. But they don’t have to live without their son, they don’t know what it feels like to blame yourself but also to know it’s not your fault, they don’t know the pain of finding their child, dead. They don’t know the pain of picking their child’s coffin, they don’t know the heartache of picking the last outfit their child will ever wear, and they will never know the pain of closing that lid and walking backwards out of a room, never to ever see their child again. I will never forgive them.

So you see, every moment is a fight, every moment is painful, every step hurts. Every breath is taken wishing it was your last, but knowing that it’s not. And i can tell you that the more you love, the more you fall. And I have fallen, I’m still falling, at a million miles an hour.


http://www.justgiving.com/williamoscarmead

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17 thoughts on “The conflicting emotions of a bereaved parent

  1. You are so brave to write this. You are touching so many people. I lost my mum to sepsis 2 years ago, very suddenly after a bad cold. The suddenness of it all is hard. You are making a difference to many people x

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  2. That was the most Beautiful, and Heartbreaking story ive ever read.. I could feel your pain in every descriptive word.I am so very sorry for what youve gone through. I cant say I understand, because I dont. But My Heart goes out to you. I pray for Gods Comfort and peace to fall upon you like rain.. GOD BLESS YOU SHUGAR!! I Love you and am here for you….. HUGSSSS.

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  3. Mum and I shared most of your visits to see and hold our beautiful little William and to support both you and Paul, we both shared your heartache and still do our love is with you both and always will be. The hurt is still unbearable and is so difficult to cope with. Our beautiful little Grandson.

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  4. you are the strongest woman ever, i have a little boy and reading what you went through my whole body and soul cry for you he truly will be the brightest star in your night sky he will be so proud of you keep looking out for him you have so much love and he will surely still be with you you will start to get signs from him, i cant offer any comfort but know you are amazing for being able to write about what happened, losing someone close is never easy but as a parent you never imagine your child will pass before yourself i know i would be destroyed my life would be at an end my little one is what i wake up for everyday, all i can say is try to stay strong and keep saying that one day you will be together again so heartbreaking sending love and prayers xx

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  5. Thank you for sharing your inner thoughts of your deepest pain. I know this this the hardest thing a mother can ever go through. But God is in charge and he is taking good care of William. He is in a safe and wonderful place. I hope you find peace in knowing that…. Your family will be in my prayers! God Bess xo

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  6. I am so upset for you. William was a beautiful baby. Your words echoed what happened when we buried our little brother when he was only 9. It happened a long time ago now but I still miss him. He also died in his sleep suddenly. I can’t even imagine what it must be like losing your only baby. You are a brave woman and William would be so proud of you xx

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  7. Tears so emotional brought back memories feelings of when I lost my mum
    So much pain wanting what can’t be
    All my love to help and thoughts to try and get through each day xx

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  8. I am so sorry for your loss. When you wrote, “it had to be me” in regards to closing the lid it hit close to home. Our son was cremated, originally I had told my husband that I couldn’t be there when they did it. But when the day finally came, I had no choice, I had to be there. I had been with him through all of his battles, every step, and there was no way I couldn’t be there for this final step. Hugs and strength to you mamma.

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  9. Your post brought tears to my eyes I’m so sorry you had to go through losing your son, I totally ‘get’ not wanting him washed with cold water I kept my daughter home and cleaned her myself, I dressed her and placed her in her coffin and yes I too closed the lid of her coffin as she was being lowered for cremation I quickly opened it a bit for one last look at my beautiful girl, this memory will never fade. My prayers are with you xx

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