“Closure” – noun
- a feeling that an emotional or traumatic experience has been resolved.
Amongst other more trivial definitions, this is the word that is commonly used when a non-bereaved person has no idea what to say to you. At least after the funeral you might get some closure, when the inquest has finished it should give you some closure, when you have received an apology from those that failed your son, you will get some closure. Erm, no. As it says above, closure refers to the resolution of an emotional or traumatic experience. Losing a child, losing William will always leave a gaping chasm in my life that can never be resolved, fixed or even emotionally explained away. The only way to resolve my profound hurt, is for William to be alive.
The last few weeks have been a real whirlwind, what you have seen in the news, the news papers, on the internet is a representation of the way my mind is bubbling all the time. It is everything that I have been hoarding in my brain for the last 14 months, and only a small proportion of it came out in one day. It was emotionally charged and overwhelming, something that I knew I had to do. A double-edged sword. I didn’t want to be there, but I did. I didn’t want to see William’s beautiful smiling face on the TV, but I did. The most unusual bittersweet sense of pride one can feel. I didn’t want to talk about what happened to William, there’s no getting round it, and having to revisit the most traumatic day and subsequent days of my life on repeat was a difficult task to endure. But it was a sacrifice. A sacrifice I made to see my pint-sized William make a difference. And what a difference he made.
As I sit here now, finally able to sit and write, the emotions that inhibit my body, from the pit of my stomach, the waves roll through my chest, my jaw clenches as the tears flow. I have barely cried these last few weeks, well, that’s not entirely the truth, I cry everyday, I cry in the morning, some days I am already crying when I wake up. I cry in the shower, in the car, at my desk whilst writing a memo. But, I haven’t cried so loud in the shower when no-one can hear me, I haven’t cried so hard I couldn’t focus and had to stop the car. I haven’t allowed my body to let go, to heave and purge the compressed tension that sits in my soul. Initially after the media frenzy I was simply so exhausted I would just sit and stare, and then I got scared, so scared that I held it in, knowing that when it came I would not be able to control it.
But today was that day, today I opened an attachment on an email, ‘re: William Oscar Mead, Deceased’, deceased. My son is deceased. My son, my only child, my everything is dead. It is so very easy to somehow objectify your actions, to travel to London, to go on the television and talk about the failings in William’s care, so easy to talk about what needs to happen, what needs to change, to educate people and help to raise awareness of sepsis. But I did that, because my little William knows what it’s like to die, my son shouldn’t know that, and no matter how much positivity you harness, how much you empower parents, and how much awareness you raise of the catastrophic condition that took our little boys life, William is still not here. We still came back to an empty home, no mess, no toys strewn on the floor, no laughter and contagious smiles. Nothing. No William.
You get to a point, and I’m at that point where people don’t approach you with caution, people no longer ask you how you are, with a sympathetic look, worried for the answer they’ll receive. No, now, there is an expectation that when people see you that you are okay. They will ask you how your weekend was, they will engage you in conversation, or as I like to put it, small talk. My tolerance levels are no better than they were six months ago. My tolerance levels are worse, I have just become a seasoned pro at wearing the mask. When you ask me how my weekend was, it was shit. Just like every other weekend. It was shit because on Friday after work I didn’t pick William up from nursery, I didn’t flop onto the sofa with a glass of wine when William had finally succumbed to sleep. It was shit because my weekend didn’t involve trips to the park, 25 loads of washing, chasing round after a cheeky two-year old, packing him into the car with ‘plans’. I will tell you it was ‘okay’, because I can no longer be bothered to explain, people no longer really want to hear it, people are busy with their own lives, people’s lives have moved on, albeit tinged with sadness but nonetheless, their lives have evolved.
My mental health has not moved on, it has not evolved. I am no longer preparing for an inquest, I am no longer bracing myself for the next version of the NHSE report, no, I know what happened to William, although I’ve known for months, however, it is not something that I felt able or inclined to speak about publicly. We’ve had every apology we can possibly have, the doctors involved in the failings in William’s care have apologised, face to face, last week. South Western Ambulance Service (111) apologised last year. NHSE have apologised, and now Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, stood in Parliament and apologised on behalf of the NHS and the Government (see video below). But, where is William? It doesn’t bring my little boy back, it doesn’t take away the suffering he endured in those last few months, and in those last 36 hours, it doesn’t take away the guilt I feel, the blame I impose on myself, probably a form of self-harm. Control perhaps. I know it’s not my fault, I did everything I could, I sought help, I listened, I followed advice, I didn’t know what sepsis was, I didn’t know that William’s symptoms were life-threatening. But regardless it was me who took him to the people who failed my son, me. The one person that has ultimate responsibility for my son, he trusted me to protect him, trusted me to make the right decisions for him, he trusted me with his life, and as his mother I wasn’t able to do it. I was let down, let down by people and systems that are designed and are in place to help people, but until I take my last breath, the buck stops with me. No amount of changes, recommendations, lives saved, and sorry’s will ever stop me feeling that.
If you’ve ever faced a tragedy and someone tells you in any way, shape or form that your tragedy was meant to be, that it happened for a reason, that it will make you a better person, or that somehow when responsibility is taken for it, it will fix it. They are lying. Grief in all it’s forms is brutally painful. People encounter grief in many ways, when relationships fall apart, you grieve. When dreams die, you grieve. When illnesses destroy you, you grieve. These are words that I’ve uttered countless times; words that are powerful and honest they remove the foundations of anyone participating in the debasing of the grieving. Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.
This video is the link to the apology William received in Parliament, if you would like to watch.