I remember it still so clearly. We had only recently been told Xavier would not make it. N and I were clinging to each other, drawing strength from one another, constantly checking that the other was surviving. Our beautiful social worker looked hesitant before she said it. But she said it anyway. “Some couples worry that their relationship won’t survive this. And some don’t. Those with strong relationships seem to get stronger. Those with problems, don’t always make it.” N glanced at me. The thought of losing each other in the midst of all this loss had never occurred to either of us.
When we first said goodbye, N and I literally clung to each other. We moved as one unit, intuiting want the other needed in that moment. But as time moved on, it become clear that we would grieve in very different ways. I worried that he didn’t want to talk about Xavier. I worried that he didn’t see a counsellor. I worried that he was burying everything deep within. He worried that I was obsessing. He worried that my constant writing and being a part of support groups was keeping me in stagnant grief. He worried that I was not letting go.
In the end we realised that we had to accept that our grief was different. No grief road is the same, even when you have shared the loss. We were able to respect each other’s ways of grieving, even when we didn’t quite understand it. Even now, we are different. I will visit Xavier’s grave and chat to him. N will visit and shed silent, still angry tears. I will talk about Xavier and whilst he will not, every day he wears a set of cufflinks engraved with Xavier’s handprint and a bracelet etched with each boys’ birthdate. We parent differently and our relationship has been able to bear that. We have been incredibly lucky to be able to make those choices within our marriage.
Children change relationships. They alter your life’s path. Grief over a child, perhaps even more so. There is very little support available to couples to navigate that journey. A dear friend, alongside two other couples who have lost their children too soon, are working with the Mater bereavement team to provide that support. But they need your help.
Seeds of Change is a support group for couples that have experienced the death of their child. Whilst SANDS and SIDS and Kids offer wonderful support for mothers and fathers, there is very little that specifically focusses on relationships. Seeds of Change seeks to change that by offering grief workshops that will help couples grow through their loss.
If you would like to help Seeds of Change, please vote for their dream at Sunsuper Dreams
If they are successful in getting the most votes this month, 50% of the funds will go towards much needed research into Stillbirth with the other 50% going to services for the bereaved.