“Bereavement is a darkness impenetrable to the imagination of the unbereaved” – Iris Murdoch
William and Noah are never far from my mind. Their presence lingers with me always. I carry them in my heart, an integral part of my being. In the first year after their death, grief overwhelmed me and I embraced it, knowing that I needed to feel the intensity of the pain to help me towards healing. But since Henry was born, grief has taken a back seat. It’s not that my grief is being hidden, but rather, it has become a part of everyday life. It is always with me, but it’s no longer at the forefront of my day. Being a mother to a ten-month-old means it isn’t possible to look through William and Noah’s memory box and photos regularly. When a wave of debilitating grief rides in, I can’t curl up in bed and stay there for the day. I have to set it aside for the time being so I can be the mother Henry needs.
Even though life is better now, and we’re at a place where we never imagined we could be again, there is still that hole that is left by the absence of our sons. Even in the happiest, purest moment, our family will never be complete, there will always be two missing. As Elizabeth McCracken writes, “It’s a happy life, but someone is missing.” But grieving and taking time to think about the boys is still something I need to do. I want and need to create space and time for them, to focus on our time together and love and grieve them.
The magnitude of losing a child is immense – it is a devastating, life changing event, and whilst a few bereaved parents may be blessed with a strong support network around them, they can never truly understand. Often there can be an awkwardness when you talk about your child, your grief, and eventually you stop. And in this way, the grief of losing your child can be so very isolating.And that is how Saying Goodbye helped us. Attending one of their remembrance services (open to anyone who has lost a child – during pregnancy, at birth or in infancy) allowed us to honour William and Noah in a special and significant way, alongside other bereaved parents who know the pain of losing a child.
We gathered in a cathedral for the service, in all its ethereal splendour, to rejoice, remember and grieve our children’s lives, with others who knew. Here, we didn’t need to describe the raw, primal pain that resides within our chest, it was already felt by those around us. We stood beside those who knew that there is no expiration date or time limit on grief, that a bereaved parent never moves on, they only become more accustomed to the pain. A beautiful unspoken bond between strangers.Seated in the pews, we listened as the majestic expanse was filled with moving words, poignant lyrics, reverent poetry. Each bereaved parent stood to light a candle for their child, the flickering flames creating a wave of light. The delicate chime of bells resonated and rose through the air, each one signifying the loss of a baby. A bittersweet melody of melancholy. Such touching tributes for the precious lives who mean so much to those who love them. In this sacred space, tears fell freely, each one symbolising the eternal love and pain that is felt.
No awkwardness, no uncomfortable silences.Just purity, love and understanding.