Our beautiful baby daughter Anabelle was born sleeping June 2010.
Blessed with the screaming arrivals of our gorgeous rainbow sons,
Alexander October 2011, Zachary November 2013 and Lucas July 2016.

After Anabelle - Raising Rainbows
Heartbreak. Joy. Death. Life. But most of all Love.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Empathy

I've experienced more kindness and empathy on this journey than I have deliberate insensitivity. Sure there have been times when people have hurt me, very much so. There were relationships lost and relationships changed.  But there were also relationships strengthened and formed. Those are the relationships that have stuck the course, roll with me, roll with it and continue extending their empathy on the continually moving journey of grief; even 5 years and 3 months on. 

I've been lucky that my group of friends and extended circle of acquaintances have treated me well for the most part. I have lost count of the number of 'saw this and thought of you' links and gifts have been sent my way; both for Anabelle and my two little rainbow boys.  Every single one touches me greatly. 

I guess it helped from very early on that I started blogging. 

I was uncomfortably honest here. I was raw, my innermost grief has spilled into these pages. I shared the blog, I bravely shared it to my Facebook; to my friends and family, to everyone that remotely knew me. I left no-one in any doubt how hard I was grieving, how utterly destroyed I felt, how huge a gap Belle had left in my life.   I'm sure I have made everyone extremely uncomfortable at times how vocal I am about my pain. 

But it raised awareness. Not just about my pain, but other bereaved parents too. 

People realised it couldn't be fixed. That Belle didn't just die and it hurt for a while, but that I lost her forever and forever I will grieve what should have been. It made them think of others they knew too. 

Over these last few years I have had numerous messages from other people; some of my friends and acquaintances who had other friends or co-workers whose babies have died. Messages asking me what could they do to show they cared, to show they remembered. Messages asking me if they could share my blog with their recently bereaved friend. Messages telling me that my blog had helped them know how to behave for their friend. Messages from people who desperately wanted to show their empathy. 

My photograph today is of a sympathy card we were sent from my Mumsnet Antenatal online group after Anabelle died. We were sent so many sympathy cards, so so many, but few stuck out. Most were cards aimed at the death of an old person, or a few had the word daughter on; but even they didn't look like cards for a baby. How could they, when it isn't very mainstream for someones baby to die. 

But this card, this card touched me. Before I even knew what I needed in terms of empathy and understanding my grief from other people, a group of women I had never met got it so completely right.  

It was pink, it looked like it should be for my baby and the biggest thing of all? Her name. They had used her name. 

And right there she was validated. She existed, she had an identity and someone else with this homemade card made such an effort to show me that she mattered. 

Even today the greatest empathy comes from those who mention Belle within conversation. Or make me feel comfortable enough to know I'm able to talk about my little girl without making them feel uncomfortable. I'm lucky that I can use her name often within my family and friendship groups and friends still ask me new questions about her and our experience, or ask me with concern how I'm going to feel if they know something might be emotionally tricky for me. Anabelle is included. And that is empathy. 

Today I'll finish with a Wish List, with its many lessons in empathy, that I found posted on the Sands forum in those early days after Anabelle had died. 

Empathy. Capture Your Grief. Day 5. 

1.    I wish you would not be afraid to mention my baby. The truth is just because you never saw my baby doesn't mean she doesn't deserve your recognition.

2. I wish that if we did talk about my baby and I cried you didn't think it was because you have hurt me by mentioning my baby. The truth is I need to cry and talk about my baby with you. Crying and emotional outbursts help me heal.

3. I wish that you could talk about my baby more than once. The truth is if you do, it reassures me that you haven't forgotten her and that you do care and understand.

4. I wish you wouldn't think that I don't want to talk about my baby. The truth is I love my baby and need to talk about her.

5. I wish you could tell me you are sorry my baby has died and that you are thinking of me. The truth is that it tells me you care.

6. I wish you wouldn't think what has happened is one big bad memory for me. The truth is the memory of my baby, the love I feel for my baby, the dreams I had and the memories I have created for my baby are all loving memories. Yes there are bad memories too but please understand that it's not all like that.

7. I wish you wouldn't pretend that my baby never existed. The truth is we both know I had a baby growing inside me.

8. I wish you wouldn't judge me because I am not acting the way you think I should be. The truth is grief is a very personal thing and we are all different people who deal with things differently and ready to do things again in our own time.

9. I wish you wouldn't think if I have a good day I'm "over it" or if I have a bad day I am being unreasonable because you think I should be over it. The truth is there is no "normal" way for me to act.

10. I wish you wouldn't stay away from me. The truth is losing my baby doesn't mean I'm contagious. By staying away you make me feel isolated, confused and like it is my fault.

11. I wish you wouldn't expect my grief to be "over and done with" in a few weeks, months, or years for that matter. The truth is it may get easier with time but I will never be "over" this.

12. I wish you wouldn't think that my baby wasn't really a baby and it was blood and tissue or a fetus. The truth is my baby was a human life. He had a soul, heart, body, legs, arms and a face. I have seen my baby's body and face. My baby was a real person.

13. My babies birthday, due date, Mothers Day, celebration times, the day my baby died are all important and sad days for me. The truth is I wish you could tell me by words or by letter you are thinking of me on these days.

14. I wish you understood that losing my baby has changed me. The truth is I am not the same person I was before and will never be that person again. If you keep waiting for me to get back to ""normal" you will stay frustrated. I am a new person with new thoughts, dreams, beliefs, and values. Please try to get to know the real me-maybe you'll still like me.

15. I wish you wouldn't tell me I could have another baby. The truth is I want the baby I lost and no other baby can replace them. Babies aren't interchangeable.

16. I wish you wouldn't feel awkward or uncomfortable talking about my baby or being near me. When you do, I can see it. The truth is it's not fair to make me feel uncomfortable just because you are.
17. I wish you wouldn't think that you'll keep away because all my friends and family will be there for me. The truth is, everyone thinks the same thing and I am often left with no one.

18. I wish you would understand that being around pregnant women is uncomfortable for me.

19. I wish you wouldn't say that it's natures way of telling me something was wrong with my baby. The truth is my baby was perfect to me no matter what you think nature is saying.

20. I wish you would understand what you are really saying when you say "next time things will be okay". The truth is how do you know? What will you say if it happens to me again?




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Caz
After Anabelle - Raising Rainbows. I'm Caz, Mummy to beautiful angel Belle and my wonderful rainbow boys, Xander, Zachy and Luc. Wife to Jon. Twitter @cazem Instagram @cazzyem
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