Six months: a letter to myself
I can’t quite get my head around the fact that today is exactly six months since Henry’s birth and death. My arms ache to hold my six-month-old baby. I can’t even imagine what he’d look like now, he’d no longer be the small, scrunched up newborn I knew. I wish I had a letter from me in the future with what to expect in the coming months and years. Instead I have written to myself six months ago with some things I’d like her to know. This is very personal to my own experience but I hope any newly bereaved parents reading these words can find some reassurance in them.
Congratulations on becoming a mummy. I wish more than anything your parenting journey wasn’t starting like this. It will take a few weeks for you to acknowledge that you’re a mum, the first time somebody refers to you and Martin as parents you’ll think they’re referring to your own parents. Yours is not going to be the motherhood you imagined, it won’t be straightforward or conventional but your love is no different to any other mother and you deserve the title just as much.
You will survive, it doesn’t feel like it but you will. Right now you wish your heart had stopped beating with Henry’s. Go easy on yourself and if some days all you can do is get out of bed that’s fine. Really, go easy on yourself.
You are not alone. You will find an incredible community of other parents who get it and when you find them you will wonder how you ever survived without them.
The children’s hospice will be a guiding beacon in all this pain. It will take you a few months to really appreciate just how important their part in this journey is.
The pain doesn’t go away but you will get better at living alongside it.
You are not the same person you were, but you already know this. You’ll miss who you used to be but you are a better person now, that’s one of Henry’s gifts to you.
Right now it feels like you’ll never feel anything good again but during the next six months you will smile and laugh again. There will be an undercurrent of sadness to everything though, even the happy moments.
Some days will be better than others. One moment you’ll feel like you’re doing great and the next you’ll fall into a hole of grief and think ‘this is it, I will never be okay again’. This will happen often and it’s a very dark place to be but so far you’ve survived it every time.
Grief doesn’t have a set pattern. Grieve how you need to.
Remember to breath.
Christmas won’t be as hard as you imagine but New Year’s will be so much harder.
Everything is different now. There are challenges ahead you never even considered so be prepared to feel a bit crazy at times.
People won’t know what to do or say. Some people are better at this than others, take the lead and gently guide them, this is new to them too. Don’t be afraid to let relationships go if you need to. Do what’s best for you.
You’ll read that a lot of marriages fail after the death of a child (the statistics vary but all agree that you’re basically doomed) but you and Martin are going to be okay. You’ll spend a lot of time together in the next six months, more time than you’ve ever spent together before and that’s okay. Do what you need to survive.
The time you have now with Henry before his funeral is precious. It’ll be the most bittersweet time of your life. You will regret not doing more with him and not spending every single moment with him but go easy on yourself, you never expected to only have a few days with him.
Right now six months looks like a very long way away. It kind of is, but also isn’t. You’ll know what I mean when you reach the one week, one month, six week marks.
There is no guide to parenting a missing child you get to write it yourself so do whatever feels right. Own it and make it the best damn experience you can.
Don’t worry about Henry being forgotten, you won’t let that happen.
Hold onto that burning sense of love and pride and endless possibility you felt when Henry was born it’s what will keep you going.
You’re at the very hardest part of this journey, your heart is broken and you can’t imagine what life will look like from now on. I don’t know either but I do know you’ll get through these next six months. When you get here I’ll already be six months ahead celebrating Henry’s first birthday and I’ll write you another letter to let you know how we’re getting on.