Reflections on the decade that was…

So as we say goodbye not just to the year 2019 but an entire decade lots of people have been reflecting on what they have done in the past 10 years.  Some have posted before and after photos.  Others have listed achievements they can be proud of.  Others are listing those things they want to achieve in the 20s.

A Christmas grave

For a mother of loss this time is ever more poignant as it not only marks the start of another year without my child but another decade entirely without her.  This coming year should have been Violet’s 5thbirthday and her brother Arthur’s 2ndbirthday next week.  As has now become our family’s tradition we took our morning stroll via the cemetery to wish our children Happy New Year with their sister in tow before heading off for a New Year’s Day lunch.

Last New Year’s I began a new tradition of looking at what each year since we had Violet has taught me. If you missed last year’s here’s the link.

My experiences for 2019 were – travel with baby daughter to the other side of the world for brother-in-law’s wedding, visited Hong Kong and an amazing old friend in Australia.  2nd brother-in-law’s wedding in London. Rainbow got hearing aids and we started a new journey as parents of a hearing impaired child.  I began a new role as university lecturer & continued my PR consultancy.  Rainbow’s 1st birthday and nursed her through two bouts of pneumonia at 15 months.  I got my heart op & had a 2nd Christmas with our rainbow. Raised over £40k for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

Mangawhai in New Zealand

My Learnings for 2019 are –

  • Hospital admissions are extremely stressful when it is at the hospital where your first born died.
  • When your child gets the same disease as her sister at exactly the same age her sister was when she died from it, then the stress is almost unbearable and you don’t sleep for months.
  • Always trust your gut instinct and ask for second opinions if necessary.
  • Travel insurance doesn’t pay out when you cancel a holiday because your baby is sick and she wasn’t due to travel.
  • You can travel anytime in the future (hopefully) so cancel it if needs be
  • Date nights can be rearranged although perhaps don’t prepay for wine matched dinners (jus asking for baby to be sick!)
  • Good friends are so precious and even when you’ve been apart for ages getting together is still the same
  • Don’t leave your baby sat wearing only a nappy on a friends fluffy white rug as they may decide to take the nappy off…
  • Never fly Swiss air with a baby nightmare airline
  • Family time is the best so try to schedule more of it in
  • Other people have had completely different experiences and challenges in life to you so respect their feelings however alien they may seem and try to learn from them
  • The cardiac ward at MRI is one of the noisiest night time places in Manchester I think a nightclub might give patients a better nights sleep
  • Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital is absolutely amazing and MRI should take notes from them.It almost makes me want to move to Liverpool!
  • We are lucky enough to have the best neighbours ever you can’t buy that
  • Some people still surprise and shock me but some in a good way
  • Remember not everyone has experienced the same things in life as you so your minor issue could be catastrophic for them so try to be sympathetic
  • Everyone has an opinion or viewpoint even if it might seem irrational or stupid compared to yours just smile and nod sometimes life is easier that way
  • Home renovations and interiors are a good way to distract from stressing about life’s bigger issues
  • Photography is therapeutic as is planning future travel
  • Charity work and donation to charity can help you to re-focus on the good in the world rather than the bad
  • When your life flashes before your eyes you want to try to ensure it is a good one
  • It can be very scary having to talk about your own funeral arrangements and organ donation but it is so necessary so please do that now.
  • Life is so precious and as clever as the top surgeons are they still don’t fully understand some things like hearts.
  • I’ve experienced a physical broken heart and an emotional broken heart and can tell you the latter feels worse
  • What is left of the NHS is amazing
  • Remember whatever happens there are more good in the world than bad even if at times it feels as though it is weighted towards those who are bad.
  • Hope is stronger than fear.

I have learnt that when unimaginably stressful events happen in a year the number of “learnings” or developments increase, so try to remember this if only once a year.  Hopefully we will all learn from the fallout from Brexit and the recent election. There is something constructive that can come from the most upsetting and distressing of situations if you really look closely.

For all those who have suffered loss this past decade please remember and recognise what an achievement it is to be a survivor after all you have been through.

The dreamcatchers near Violet’s grave in the cemetery 

It is also possible to squeeze out a tiny bit of happiness from it all too.  As the legend that is JK Rowling wrote for Dumbledore ““Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”  So flick that switch or light that flame even if it is on a very tiny candle, your baby or babies will thank you.

If you only take one thing away from this and repeat it as a mantra in the mirror every morning throughout January it should be this…”You are amazing and whatever the future holds you can handle this”.  Here’s to the roaring twenties!

roaring-20s-vector-violet skies.png
The Roaring Twenties – Vector files

Love Sarah

Always Violet Skies x

You might be interested in these blog posts too –

New Year Learning and Growth

September = New Beginnings

Barcelona in winter with a baby


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