27 Sep Silver linings and hidden blessings…
“There is a gentle ease that comes with knowing grief and being around others who know grief too. It’s a connection that allows for understanding the unspoken, a connection that makes explaining unnecessary.”@griefuncovered
Three years ago I could never have imagined that I would be having lunch in a busy restaurant with a bunch of beautiful ladies I hardly knew, yet felt totally comfortable with!
To anyone looking on we were just a random group of friends meeting up.
But if you dared look closer you would see see grief etched into our faces! Nerves shattered by deep pain. Eyes heavy with sadness. Faces simultaneously shifting from laughing to crying to laughing. Heartbreaking stories that still feel like they only happened yesterday.
And most importantly, you would sense an electrifying current of love, compassion and empathy flowing freely from one person to the other.
Just a bunch of mums who ‘get it’ – brought together by a cruel twist of fate. Connected by an invisible bond born out of tragedy. Everyone trying to look happy whilst heaving around a ginormous burden of anguished sickening pain – the devastating consequence of having lost a darling precious child.
Personal circumstances differ but each share the same emptiness because part of us died when our child died. And we’re all having to learn how to live with a gaping hole in our world.
It’s torture. Some days impossible!!
And tragically this is just one little group (amongst so many) of ordinary brokenhearted parents who somehow manage to get out of bed every day (at least most days) and function – not in the way we once did but in the only way we can! We’re not strong or blessed with some sort of supernatural power – just hurting broken people trying to dig deep and find enough strength to keep going. Whilst trying be thankful for what we still have.
I’m pretty sure I speak for us all when I say we’re magnetically drawn to each other because there is healing in sharing and knowing we’re not alone. It might feel like I’m the only mum who has ever lost a child but of course I’m not – sadly there are too many of us and we need each other. Those further on help and encourage those just starting out. We all acknowledge that time doesn’t heal. We accept there is no getting over it, no moving on and no right or wrong way to grieve.
We know it hurts like hell!!
So our gift to each other is simply that we listen, we don’t judge, we cry if we want to, we laugh, we remember, we understand, we rant, we talk about our children…
I could never have imagined that some of these beautiful strangers (who are now friends) would one day become such an integral part of my life. They are inspirational real life examples of resilience. Proof that survival is possible. A precious silver lining that cuts through pain, and infuses little shards of hope into my shaky existence!
But just to be clear – we would drop this privilege in a heartbeat just to have our children back. No blessing or silver lining or purpose can ever make up for the enormity of our loss. Living like this is not a choice!
Three years ago I was just a normal ‘run of the mill’ working mum of four. I was busy, happy, purposeful and complacent.
Then Ben died.
When your child dies everything changes (including us) and we have to rethink living. Nothing is normal any more. Starting over is hard and we need all the help we can get.
I’ve found connecting with parents who understand my kind of grief essential to survival – they help make life bearable. And incredibly this has only been possible because some amazing people (inspired by their own grief) saw value in setting up and managing online support groups. I’m so indebted to them!!
It takes a grieving mum to know what a grieving mum needs!!
If you have lost a child I would totally recommend joining a support group – either face to face and/or on social media. I had no idea these groups would become my lifeline and I would meet some wonderful people (from all around the world) who have now become friends for life!
These are the Facebook groups I belong to but there are many others to choose from – CRY and The Compassionate Friends have groups for dads, siblings, grandparents…
CRY Mother’s Support Group – for bereaved mums who have lost a child to sudden cardiac arrest.
Together Stronger – a closed support group for bereaved mums who live in Wales (UK)
2 Wish Upon a Star Families – a closed support group for families in Wales (UK) who have lost a child up to the age of 25
Heartache and Hope – an international closed support group for parents with a Christian faith who have lost a child.
The difference they have made is overwhelming….
– The joy in discovering that I wasn’t the only grieving mum lying awake for hours on end!
– The chats with strangers that got me through the day.
– The power in those simple words ‘me too’ as my life started weaving into the lives of others living this same nightmare!
– The relief of having the craziest feelings validated and realising you’re not actually going mad.
– The assurances from others further ahead on this journey, that against all the odds, I will survive!
So many unexpected blessings hidden inside this terrible hideous pain.
This quote by Mirabai Starr is one of my favourites. It’s the most powerful I have read and still sends tingles down my spine…
“Even as I rocked on my knees I detected soft breathing behind the roaring. I leaned in, listened. It was the moaning of ten million mothers, backward and forward in time, and right now, who had lost children. They were lifting me, holding me. They had woven a net of their broken hearts and they were keeping me safe there. I realised that one day I would take my rightful place as a link in this web and I would hold my sister mothers when their children died. For now my only task was to grieve and be cradled in their love.”
Excerpt from CARAVAN OF NO DESPAIR
– by Mirabai Starr
I’m so so thankful that I’ve been lifted, held and cradled in the love of other grieving mums. There is safety and security in this unexpected feeling of belonging. It’s a priceless gift. And now after three long years it feels natural to want to reach out to other broken mothers – recognising that the value of life is not about what we take but what we give back.
“We rise by lifting others.” Robert Ingersoll