There are some things in life that are so devastating, so horrific, that the possibility of it happening to you or someone you love doesn’t even exist in your reality. This fact affects all of us. It was a reality of mine until that reality became death. I have been in a real funk the last few days and I find that when I’m down, upset or not at a particular standard of contentedness (I say contentedness because the prospect of ever feeling happy following the death of your baby, especially when one is feeling so down, is futile), my mourning for Rubén is heightened.
The pain I feel is so difficult to describe. It is so suffocating, so unbearable, it’s never ending – it’s the last thing I think about before I go to sleep and the first thing when I wake up. Everyday. In the early days of loss, I found small comfort in online forums, knowing that we were not alone in our suffering. So today, following a really low day, I went online to find some words of wisdom from others – others that have felt my pain but have had longer to adjust to this strange world of grief. Yet, looking through hurt eyes, all I can see and feel is more heartbreak. All I can think to myself is: what world is this we live in? When a parent has to say goodbye to their baby? When the only thing you can do for your child is plan their funeral? When all we have is words and memories? It’s just not fair.
They say you never really know who’s there for you until times are tough and I’ve never been sure if I agreed with that statement. I think I’ve always made excuses for others: ‘people have lives too’ or ‘if you really need them, they’d be there for you’. Yet it was only when we were thrown into the deepest depths of our grief, we found out the hard way the true weight behind this statement. When I say ‘darkest depths’, I don’t mean that days or weeks following Rubén’s death – I mean the months after.We were so wrapped up in our little bubble in the beginning it was hard to see the people that had distanced themselves from us. All we were concerned about was the ‘here and now’. But once the initial shock had passed, our loneliness forced us to pay attention to those that were not around.
There could have been numerous reasons why, during the most difficult time of our lives, our closest allies were nowhere to be seen. Maybe they felt too awkward – baby loss is a sensitive subject and more often than not it is a topic people will steer clear of talking about through fear of saying the ‘wrong thing’. Maybe they assumed we already had a strong network of people to lean on and didn’t want to impose. Maybe they thought we were over it – almost as though the size of grief is equally proportionate to the size of our baby we were grieving. Or maybe I’m being classic Yanique and making excuses for everyone instead of realising that maybe, just maybe, I am not as close to some people as I thought I was. I’m not going to pretend – I did make myself almost ‘unavailable’ but I know that where there’s a will, there’s a way. The truth is I’ve never really taken to time out to ask. Some people I have gotten back into contact with and some I haven’t. And that’s OK. Losing Rubén has been a real eye opener (to say the very least) and reinstated to me that some things just aren’t important. Whatever their reasons were, if any at all, it was good enough for them so it is good enough for me.
Grief is a very long, isolating road and when that grief is as a result of losing a baby, it is complicated – plagued with ‘what ifs..’ and ‘why?’. The full sense of loss is not something that happens all at once – it is scattered throughout our lives – a lifetime of suffering. Birthdays, anniversaries, christmas’ – these pivotal occasions make you realise just how much your life has been changed by your loss. I think one thing I have learnt is that time in itself is not a healer – it is what you do with it. If I hadn’t have started this blog, hadn’t have set up Rubén’s charity, hadn’t have gone back to work or university when I did, I would not be anywhere near where I am today. I have learnt to be gentle with both myself and others and to be more understanding that no matter what the reasons, life goes on. It’s not fair but it does. I believe that grief is for sharing. It is confiding in those closest to you when you are feeling at your lowest or your highest. It is allowing people to be there for you to lean on as well as understanding when people aren’t there at all. Whatever way you choose to deal with your grief, make sure it is right for you – it is a long, arduous journey that will never go away completely – it will just soften over time.