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.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Secondary Losses

You lose so much more than a baby when your baby dies. 

We lost everything Anabelle was, and everything she would've been. 

We lost who she was going to be at one, at two, at three, at four and now at five. We'll keep on losing those years and those birthdays. Stolen birthdays. 

We've already lost the first time she smiled, slept through the night, crawled, first steps. The first Christmas she would've understood about Father Christmas. We've been robbed of the dreams we had of dressing her up in a little pink ballerina costume and sending her to dance class, we've been robbed of her first day at school, we were robbed of her presence on our magical trip to Disney and being duped into buying her Princess Belle toys, dresses and things.  

Pretty soon we'll have lost the time her first tooth fell out and we got to play tooth fairy. We're going to be robbed of the day she would've started Junior school. The birthday where she went into double figures and that big milestone. The day she started high school. The day she became a teenager. The day she bought home her first boyfriend. The day she got her GCSE results, A level results. The day she had her 18th birthday, 21st birthday. We've lost her adult-ness. The day she might've gone to uni, graduated, had a wonderful career. We've lost the day she might've married and instead Jon had the most cruel alternative of walking his daughter down the aisle.  We've been cheated of the exciting time when she had her own children. We've even been robbed of those grandchildren there might've been.

We didn't just lose her, we lost all those milestones, all those dreams. We lost an entire future and a world where she lived. 

That list of secondary losses is endless.

But it doesn't stop there. 

I lost myself. Part of me died with her. I changed. I didn't know who I was anymore. Lost youth, aged beyond my years overnight. Lost. I was just lost. Lost trust in my own capability to make decisions when it matters. Five years on that ripples on. Plagued by fears and doubts. Slowly slowly rebuilding. A life of before and after Anabelle. It is likely losing my daughter is the defining moment of my life.

But it doesn't stop there. 

We lost the pure joy of pregnancy. 

We have such beautiful rainbow boys and we're so amazingly lucky they got here safely and came home, but the journey to get them here was dominated by fear. Today my 'On This Day' memories on facebook included my post when we were on the way home with Alexander; exclaiming that it was one of the very best moments on my life. And it was. Walking out of those hospital doors pushing my pram with my newborn baby in was euphoric. Being lucky enough to repeat that experience with Zachary was amazing because I'll never forget the feeling of walking out of those doors without my baby; the car just 100 yards away and me barely being able to get there because I was on the verge of just collapsing with grief. 

Pregnancy is frightening now. A fear that doesn't subside when you have that all-important end of first trimester scan. Fear that grows as your stomach grows. Fear of another death, another funeral, a fragile heart destroyed knowing you wouldn't survive this again. Knowing an often fragile mental state would never be this intact again. 

A fear that isn't just for your own. A fear that ripples out through everyone that matters to you. I'm anxious when my friends, family are pregnant. Anxious because I so desperately want their babies to get here safely too. 

But it doesn't stop there. 

Relationships were irreparably changed along the way. 

We lost friends along the way. Grief upon grief. 

The worst of it is secondary losses like this are not unusual. I'm not one of a few bereaved parents who saw a different side to people they loved, lost relationships with people they loved.

Bereaved parents are not always faultless in this, not by any means; Grief is ugly and selfish and brings out the less desirable side of you too, reactions that could be better. Things that should be left unsaid. This is true of us. 

Two years ago, around Anabelle's third birthday, I reached crisis point. I reacted emotionally violently to her birthday, to other peoples events that coincided with her birthday. I did not cope. I couldn't cope. I handled it badly and I was handled badly. And none of it can be taken back now. 

Bereaved Parents are so often misunderstood.

I had obviously been doing a good job with 'the face' because dear friends said to me they hadn't comprehended how much her birth, her birthday, still affected me.  It was her third birthday I realised I was most probably suffering from some sort of grief related post-traumatic stress disorder. Because her birth was traumatic. And every year I relive elements of it. Every June I'm stuck in a cycle of flashbacks and time standing still in 2010. 

Misunderstanding is what leads to so many more secondary losses because not everyone can manage a lifetime of Empathy. Because how can anyone really truly possibly even begin to realise the forever impact of the death of your child unless they have experienced it themselves? In those earlier days it was harder to forgive people that. 

And despite it all I miss those friends. I miss them and I wish it was different. 

Five years on and the reality is the secondary losses will probably not stop there. 

Day 17. Capture Your Grief. Secondary Losses. 


Unknown said...

So well written as always. Thank you for sharing. It really does help with understanding and empathy for friends and family who have been through this. I am sure your posts help many people. Nina x

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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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