Grief is like riding a bike

Can you remember when you first rode a bike? If you were young, the little bike probably had stabilisers, along with a little bell, maybe a basket, but definitely stabilisers. We gently ease ourselves in, wearing a helmet, going slowly, with mummy trailing behind. After we fall off the first time, mummy picks you up, dusts you off, encourages you to overcome your fear. You jump back on and you fly down the path escaping the grabbing hands of mummy, squealing as you go, her stomach in her throat, you’re okay until you realise you don’t know how to stop. It was fun until that wall jumped in your way. We’ll give it another go tomorrow.

As we get older, we shed the basket and the bell, the bike gets bigger, the stabilisers long gone. You become comfortable, confident and at the drop of a hat you can change the direction you are headed. Grief is like riding a bike. Except I didn’t get to ease myself in, I don’t get to learn, there is no helmet, no-one that can melt away that fear. Free-wheeling down a hill at an uncontrollable pace. Wobbling, trying desperately to stay in control, to hold on, not to fall off, but inevitably I do. I always fall off, I always fall hard, my body always aches, my emotions bruised, my body battered. Lying there knowing that my only choice is to get up and get back on the worst ride of my life, something I do not want to do. It takes strength I do not know I have to stand up and climb back on.

Some days as I’m riding along, its slower, my peripheral vision registering the background noise, blurred life slightly more in focus, the world through sad eyes is discouraging, it is a world that is different, it has changed, everything has changed, I have changed. Nothing is the same, everything has very little purpose, very little meaning. I have lost sight of life, the only life I knew, the life where I was mummy. Although I know I am a mummy, William is not here to help me grow as a mummy, William is not here for me to love, to teach, to watch grow, to help him learn how to ride a bike. I won’t ever get that chance. I won’t ever get to put his little helmet on, I won’t be able to implore him to be careful so many times I have a panic attack. I won’t be able to run after him squealing at the top of his lungs and mine. I won’t be able to pick him up and put a plaster on his cut knee and soothe him and encourage him to have another go. You see the moments you take for granted I will never experience, and William will never get to experience.

I am struggling at the moment, struggling to hold my emotions in. I do let my emotions out, always, but at the moment I can’t control my thoughts, my feelings. On the way to work, I pull the car over, my body heaving with the sobs. Coping at the minute is a goal I am finding hard to achieve. The honest truth is I can’t live without William. I can’t face a lifetime without him, without his beauty, without everything he gave me, without his spell-binding love. I go into his room, I sit by his cot, my head resting on the bars, my body racking, love pouring from my eyes, desperately wishing he was there, right there in front of me, so I could reach out and touch him, to watch him gently suck his thumb, to hear his gentle snoring, in tune with every breath I take. To see the peace on his face, the comfort, knowing he was safe, knowing he was loved, knowing his mummy was right there, always, knowing my baby was right there. But now he’s not, as my head pushes hard on the wooden bars, William isn’t there, my baby is gone. Forever. I will never see him again, I will never hold him again, never hear his delicate little voice, never to look in his deep brown eyes and fall in love over and over again.

Every time I look at his photos my breath is instantly taken away, my eyes well up, my body aching to reach into that image, to pluck him out and to never let him go. The first time that I ever held William after he had been born, I had him wrapped on my chest, his warm, red skin tightly held against my skin. I could feel his little heart beating, I could feel his warmth, I could already feel his love resonating through me and igniting my bones. How much I wish I could have one more moment with him, but one moment would never be enough. William is owed so much more, William deserves so much more, Paul and I gave William the right to life. That has been taken away and that is so unbearably cruel. It is something I cannot live with. Something I don’t want to live with. How can I?

My bike was the best bike you could ever buy, the bike that would take pride of place in every shop window. The bike that everyone wanted, the bike of envy, the bike that would take you to the farthest corners of the Earth. Someone took my bike, it’s replacement, a rusty bike with intermittent brakes, no bell, and sometimes it feels like square wheels. I don’t want it, I can’t get back on, when I am forced to, I struggle so hard to pedal, but it never goes the way I want it too. I am not in control.

If you have a life, that resembles the best ride of your life, treasure it, keep it safe, share it, take it on the most incredible journeys. Love with compassion, do not allow bumps in the road to get you down, drop back a gear, pedal easier, carry on, feel the wind in your hair, choose the direction you want to take and take it. Enjoy it, feel it, live it, and most of all always love with conviction.






How can anyone be so wrong?

Last week the pediatrician from the hospital came to visit us armed with William’s post-mortem report. Although we were given preliminary results 9 days after William died, these were not conclusive and subject to change. ‘Unusual, if not lucky’ they told us, apparently it’s unheard of to have any indication that early when someone dies unexpectedly. Lucky is not the word I would have used, I did not feel lucky at the time and I do not feel lucky now. Looking back I suppose relieved would have been a more appropriate word. I knew William had been poorly, but I was dreading them finding nothing wrong, life was already unbearable, but the thought of my little boy going to sleep and just not waking up was something I knew I just wouldn’t accept. However, after the doctors telling me that he was ‘ok’ and had nothing ‘grisly’ it was a concept that I had to prepare myself for.

In those 9 days every second was spent relentlessly questioning why? why had William died? The doctor on the Friday had told us it was probably just a reaction to the booster. On Saturday the 111 call handler deemed his condition as a non-emergency. Later that night the Serco doctor explained it was likely a virus, he will likely get better without treatment. So with William asleep in bed, we felt rest assured we were doing the right thing, we’d been told lots of times it was nothing serious and he’d be back to his normal self in 48 hours. I expected a very unsettled night but William slept through Saturday night with no fuss, wriggling around his cot to find the most peculiar position to sleep in as normal. When I checked on him he was sleeping soundly, snoring faintly and clutching his reindeer teddy, nothing out of the ordinary. At 5:10am when we checked on him he had settled himself back to sleep after having a drink, nothing unusual. 36 hours was Sunday morning. I never expected that when I went to check on him that he would be gone. My beautiful little boy, gone. How could this happen? What happened? Why had William died? Those agonising 9 days were a constant battle in my head, with every question that I asked myself I came to a different conclusion. Meticulously going over every last detail, not just over those 36 hours but during his whole life, all 382 days of it. Had I missed something?

The reality was I hadn’t missed anything, I had never missed an appointment to get William weighed, his injections were always on time, I even have a diary with the amount of milk William drank and the time of day he drank it from his birth until he was eating normal food. From the time when William had begun to be poorly at the end of September until his untimely passing I had visited the doctor on 6 different occasions, this was in addition to the telephone appointments. So no, I couldn’t have missed anything, could I? No, the truth of it is I didn’t, when William was poorly I took him to the doctor, when he didn’t get better, I persisted and took him again and again, sometimes seeing a different doctor. ‘It’s just a cough’, ‘his chest is clear’, ‘his ears are fine’. Just give him Calpol and Nurofen.

How wrong can anyone be? Well on Thursday we found out.

When I cradled William in my arms on the morning he was taken away to Birmingham for the post-mortem I whispered in his ear that he had a job to do, ‘you hold all the answers sweetheart, only you know what’s happened, please tell the doctors what happened, mummy needs to know. Mummy’s asked to come with you, but she’s not allowed. Please don’t be frightened, be a brave boy, mummy is so proud of you, and she is always with you and she loves you so much, mummy knows you can do it.’ My little boy did exactly that.

On that last trip to the doctors William had septicemia caused by Inasive Streptoccocal A bacteria. He had an empyema which is pus in the pleural cavity, the space outside of the lung, 200mls of toxic pus to be precise. He had an abscess in his left lung and a heavy ear infection with fluid in both ears. These were directly caused by a chest infection which developed into pneumonia. William’s chest was obviously not clear, William’s ears were clearly not ‘ok’, his cough was clearly not ‘just a cough’, and he did have something grisly, Septicemia, something about as profoundly grisly as you can get.

I can’t begin to explain the feeling, the feeling of utter disbelief, how something that started out so simple, so easy to treat, so easy to diagnose resulted in William losing his life. It’s incomprehensible. An investigation is already underway into his care, those directly involved will have to answer questions at the inquest but it doesn’t change things, it’s not good enough, it’s not acceptable, it doesn’t bring William back. I will be in pain for the rest of my life, there will always be a huge hole, something missing but that is nothing, nothing compared to my little boy losing his life, losing his future, losing our dreams. All taken away. There are no sufficient words to explain how I feel right now. My little boy robbed of his life, and us, robbed of ours.

Will power – so unpredictable and finite


  • the faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action.
  • control deliberately exerted to do something or to restrain one’s own impulses.

Will power, this is something very different to desire, or wanting something. There is a difference between giving up and knowing when you have had enough. I don’t feel any further along this journey other than the fact that the passage of time is something completely out of my control so therefore I continue to exist through the fog. I have no desire nor do I want to live the life I have been left. I haven’t written a blog for a while, I haven’t had the strength or energy but also this is similar to a diary or journal of my inner most thoughts, and they’re so negative. I cannot help the way I feel or what I think, it is what it is.

I feel totally trapped, like William is in heaven in the sky, what I have left of life is down here on Earth, but I am somewhere in between, floating in limbo. All I want is to be with William. Not wanting to be here to exist through what life is only leads to the fact that I’ve had enough; and the cold harsh reality of that is taking my own life. There is such stigma around suicide, that it is a cold, blunt act, with such finality. This is not what I want, I don’t want to ‘die’ I just want to be with William, but he is never going to be here again, he is gone. For me the acceptance of this fact only means one thing, that if I want to be with William I would have to make the ultimate choice of life, to take my own. It is very hard for me to write this, I know so many people who read this will not like to hear it, mostly because it is a subject that is not often talked about, but that is the truth, my thoughts and feelings haven’t changed; I have felt this way for a long time. I don’t feel ashamed of the way I feel, and I don’t want to hide behind the stock answers to ‘how are you?’ “well, you know up and down”. I can’t hide it. I’m terrified, terrified of being here, I fear tomorrow, knowing that tomorrow will not feel any better than today but worse, the pain intensifying alongside the bond between William and I strengthening. If it wasn’t for suicide, I would have killed myself by now. This may be a hard concept for you to understand but because I know I have that choice tomorrow, it is my safety net today.

Taking your own life, whether it is a choice or an impulsive action is not cowardly but takes sheer will power and guts. It is not a nice place to be, a place that is so dark, so isolating. I am scared, scared because I no longer feel like myself, will power is so unpredictable and absolutely finite when it takes hold. The thoughts and feelings are involuntary, overwhelming and all consuming.

This is where will power comes into play. I can never say that I ‘want’ the life I have been left after losing William or have any desire for it, but you must have will power to allow the passage of time to make living with it a little easier.  How can this happen knowing that life will never be better. It can only ever be different. From the day that I found out I was pregnant everyday surpassed my expectations, I never knew that a love so intense existed. And with every day that passed I fell more and more in love. Losing William so suddenly and unexpectedly completely cut off my lifeline, my outlet for that physical love gone, when William died, so did I. My heart and soul went with William that day, I feel like an empty shell with a tortured soul. Everyday is total torment. I wish I could sit here and type that I ‘hope’ it will get easier, but I almost don’t want it to. I don’t want to live without William. I’m just going through the motions.

I just want my baby.