The strength of a bereaved parent, the strength of friends

When someone is going through a storm, your silent presence is more powerful than a million, empty words…

Since William passed away I have lost count of how many well wishers imparted their advice that Paul and I need to be strong for each other, all said with a kind and heavy heart. But those who have lost a child will know, this is almost impossible. It is an uphill struggle to tread water let alone try to support anyone through their grief, this may sound selfish, but it’s really not. We have lost the same little person, the bomb that exploded in our lives left no prisoners. How, when I constantly resist the urge to join William can I support Paul? How can Paul when he is devoured by grief even begin to imagine trying to prop me up in the process. The most we can do is simply be ‘there’. We support each other, we are there when the other falls. When one crumbles the other crumbles, both consumed by an avalanche of what if’s, searching desperately for the answers. Grief affects everyone differently, everyone reacts to it differently, and everyone is on their own journey.

I have found solace with other bereaved parents, those that truly understand what the definition of strength is. Day to-day, strength for a bereaved parent can be defined as getting out of bed, maybe taking a shower, eating when you really don’t want to.Opening the mail and paying that bill that really is no longer relevant. But, real strength is holding your child for the last time and knowing it will be the last time you ever hold their perfect little being, the last time you will ever place a lingering kiss on their flawless skin. Strength is placing them in their forever bed and closing the lid, knowing that you will never touch them again, never see them, or be in their presence.

Strength is having to pick a beautiful coffin, when this is the absolute last task you ever want to do but knowing it has to be absolutely perfect, beautiful and comfortable. Strength is carrying your child into his own funeral knowing you will never feel the weight of him in your arms again. Strength is going to the crematorium and collecting your child’s ashes. So small, so light, in a bag you carry your child to the car, not to put him in his car seat but to hold him on your lap, not taking your eyes of this tiny little box that contains what remains of your precious child. Strength is battling for months and months for those involved in your child’s death to apologise, but knowing that until that happens you have to fight until there is no fight left. Strength is putting one foot in front of the other when the last place you want to be is walking this Earth without your child.

There is no-one stronger that walks this Earth than a parent that has lost a child, whether that be a child lost during those months of pregnancy, whether it be a baby born sleeping, an infant like William, or a child that you have watched grow into the most amazing person, and there is nothing stronger than the friendship between two bereaved parents. That one person you meet in the most excruciating circumstances, but that one person that understands, that just knows. Knows that when you are feeling desperate, they know just what to say, that what they say comes from the same painful experience. I have spoken to many bereaved parents and I always will. It is a world I knew was there but I never knew just how many are affected.

So, to those bereaved parents out there, and to one person in particular who I think I’d be lost without, not only do I share your pain but I share your strength, and when you wobble, you can have some of my strength. I admire your courage to keep going for your little boy, the little boy who lost his beautiful little brother. Many will say “I don’t know how you do it, I don’t know how I’d cope.” I’ve heard this many times, but it really doesn’t help, somehow it makes me feel that I’m coping when I shouldn’t be. We don’t know how we do it, we don’t know how we cope, or even that we are coping. We have no choice, but I do know that we wouldn’t cope without each other. So I know that when you, my friend take your little sidekick to the soft play area, you’re doing it because your strength is insurmountable; but I’m not fooled, to watch one child play rather than two creates a pain so palpable I can feel it. I share your pain, I know THE pain, I don’t know your pain, but know that I’m here when there are few people who can really say the right thing. Thomas is an absolute credit to you, and he will be so proud of you, as am I, always.

Dearest friend please know you can do the impossible because you have been through the unimaginable.