Tag Archives: grief


Mind the Baby, grieving, www.mindthebaby.ie
photo credit: myDays / S.Lee via photopin cc

My friend is hurting.

Her mother has just passed away and there is a huge, matriarch-shaped hole in her family’s life that aches and bleeds. The epicentre of a happy, loving family has left this world and those in orbit around her are struggling to keep on course now that their sun is gone. My heart goes out to her and to them.

There is nothing in this world like the pain of losing a loved one. It physically grips you and takes your breathe away. You can feel it burning in your chest, your eyes, your head. Even for those who knew is was coming, it is still a shock because suddenly they’re just not here.

When the funeral ends, the hoards of mourners leave the house with the empty tubberware and lasagne dishes, and silence descends, it is only then that the earth-shattering, momentuousness of the reality of their death wallops you like a blow to the chest. Nothing will ever be the same again. You think it’ll be the silent moments that will catch you off-guard but its the unexpected things like that song on the radio when you’re stuck in traffic or when a letter addressed to them arrives many months later. That’s when the tears spill out and the body-wracking sobs catch you by surprise.

The finality of it all is crushing. Death is the only thing in life that has such a permanence to it. Even though your head turns every time the door opens, they’ll never walk through it. You’ll never bump into them by chance on the other side of the world in decades time. No one will shake you from your sleep to say “wake up, it was just a terrible dream”, no matter how much you wish they would.

You just want someone to come and save you, to wrap their arms around you and tell you everything is going to be alright. The heartbreaking part of it is of course, the person you think you want to do this the most, is the one who can’t be with you any more. And it hurts.

You want time to stand still, because every minute that passes means one more minute they’re left behind as time drags you forward into the future, even though you dig your heels in. Every day that passes means that others think it’s getting easier and soon they won’t have to ask you how you’re doing any more and we can all just get on with our lives. But it doesn’t get easier, or better, or less painful. It’s just different.

You’re afraid you’ll forget things. How they smell. What a hug felt like in their arms. Those little snatches of special moments that seemed so ordinary at the time but now you cling to them, trying to hold on, like grains of sand slipping through your fingers.

Those first few months are an altered state. It’s like you’re on the inside looking out, watching the world carry on and trying to figure out why it hasn’t stopped and fallen to its knees like you have. You wonder how you haven’t died yourself because the pain is just unbearable, but somehow you keep going. Because you have no choice. One foot in front of the other. And that’s how it goes. People tell you you’re so strong, you’re so brave, they don’t know how they’d cope. But they would, because they have to.

No matter how many people you think understand – because they’ve been through something similar before, or they’re experiencing the same loss as you right now this very minute – no one understands your loss. No one else had the unique relationship that you had. No one else was privy to your true feelings for that person. No one else has your memories, your feelings, those special moments you hold close in your heart.

Grief is a lonely, long road. When it’s all so fresh and raw and you feel like you’re shivering and wet, it’s hard to imagine that road widening and flattening out but it does. You’ll get there. You mightn’t want to. But you’ll get there in the end.




A woman’s heart: Anna and Savita

Mothers have been very visible in the media in the last few days for all of the wrong reasons. They are devastating, heartbreaking and life changing reasons. I know many mothers who have gripped their babies tight with love and fear, crying and whispering “there but for the grace of God, go I“.

There is something so special and unique about mothering. Since I started on my mothering journey, which for me began when I realised I wanted to become one, I have realised what a spiritual, all encompassing, powerful life-force mothering is. My identity as a woman is now intrinsically linked to my mothering status. It does not define me but it is part of the core of my being. I will never not be a mother.

Being a mother is very different from being a parent. There are myriad aspects to being a parent that can be shared with many people of either gender in a child’s life but there are some things that only a mother knows.

Only a mother knows what it feels like to desperately want to carry a child in her body. Only a mother knows the untold joy of knowing there is a life growing inside her and the corresponding fear and burden of responsibility that comes with that. Only a mother knows what it’s like to labour and birth her baby into the world. Only a mother knows what it’s like to nourish a baby at the breast from her own body and watch her child grow and flourish before her eyes.

A woman's heart: Savita and Anna www.mindthebaby.ie Mind The Baby Blog
Savita Halappanavar
Source. www.irishtimes.com

Only a mother knows what it’s like to discover that her body won’t let her carry the baby she desperately wants. Only a mother experiences the anguish and devastation of a pregnancy leaving her body too soon. Only a mother experiences the overwhelm of unexpected and taboo feelings during pregnancy like not feeling maternal, losing interest in her pregnancy and the longing for a daughter turning to the devastation of discovering that she’s carrying twin boys. Only a mother suffers through ante and post natal depression.

The other side of this coin is that only a father can one minute be the positive supporter and protector of his expectant partner and their unborn child to the next minute experiencing the life changing and scarring loss of not just the mother of his children but those children too and all of the feelings of helplessness and despair that accompany that. It is the father who is left behind and alone to cope with the consequences and to try to move forward with his life without the one person he usually turns to in his hour of need.

I would guess that there is not a heart in the land that has not been moved by the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar, a 31 year old woman expecting her first baby who died of septicaemia following the three day miscarriage of her 17 week pregnancy.

I would also guess that it is impossible not to be moved by the heartbreaking death of Anna Byrne, a 35 year old mother of two boys who fell to her death during the 38th week of her third pregnancy while carrying twin boys.

A woman's heart: Savita and Anna
Anna Byrne
Source: Garda Press Office via Journal.ie

My heart goes out to the husbands of both women who have been left behind and who are currently being tossed around by the media like playthings at this appalling, difficult time when they should be left alone to grief the loss of their wives and their children and to try and find some way to start walking down this new darker unchartered path that was not part of their happy plans for their future.

There are joys and sorrows that only a woman as a mother can feel. There are raptures and anguishes that only a man as a father can feel. This week fathers and mothers are holding each other and their children as they cry as a nation for these terrible, unnecessary losses that no family should have to bare.

I hope the media remembers this part as they clamour to sell newspapers and advertising space.