Your world shatters. You find yourself alone. You see pity and sympathy in the eyes of family and friends, but they do not understand. They hurt, but their hurt is not your hurt. You search for others who share your story. You try to normalise the thing that is so far from any sane normality. You find them. Online and in person. This community of loss. This beautiful and fragile community of tattered souls. Facebook groups, blogs and forums dedicated to babies and children stolen from their mothers’ breasts and their fathers’ embraces. And there is such aching beauty. Words strung together as delicately as beaded necklaces. Artwork that touches deep nerves. Poems and images that steal your breath as they gift you tears. Enormous and important things achieved in the name of children who may no longer live on earth but whose impact is great.
But through this thin veneer of beauty, do we hide from ugly truth? Do the newly bereaved come across these sites and wonder where the pain is? Where the heart-stopping, gut-wrenching, puking, sobbing messes are? I don’t think I have ever written publicly about the true pain of grief. The darkest of days, where even the weight of water in the shower was too much to bear. When my skin crawled and the ache in my arms to hold my baby felt like the loss of a limb. When the only relief could be found in sleep and the sleep would only come when I was too exhausted to think. I cannot convey in words the pain of those days. I remember wanting words. Yet, no words were horrific enough to capture the pain. I do not swear, I never have. But even the worst words I knew could not scratch the surface. There isn’t even a word in the English language to describe a parent whose child dies. There are orphans and widows and widowers but no noun for those who lay their children to rest. And as I searched for a word ugly enough to sum up the wretchedness I felt, words beautiful enough to describe my baby boy also remained elusive. Perhaps that is a struggle felt by many who populate those online groups and forums. How do you express a pain so horrific in the place you are recognised as mother to your child? How do you articulate the depts of hurting when you also want to celebrate your baby? How do you find language that isn’t repressible and offensive to describe something so bitterly broken? How do you reach out and seek comfort when you want to spew barbed wire and bile and venom? How do you tame the rage and the anger to a gentle simmer to remain polite amongst people who share common ground but are, for the most part, strangers?
For those in their grief who find comfort from the beauty, but wonder if they are lost alone on an ugly path. Please know, you are not alone. There are just no words to capture the depth of the hurt just as there are no adequate words to capture the enormity of the love. For the pain and the grief run deep because the love never ends.