Surviving after Child Loss

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Whilst I was sat on a train heading to Glasgow earlier this week I decided to write a few blog posts touching on subjects people have been curious about.

How do you cope with losing a child?

People often ask me about how we coped with losing Violet and about the techniques we employed to try to help ourselves get through this time.

Force yourself to do things

We tried to remember what we enjoyed about life when our daughter was still with us. We focused on making ourselves do these things even though we didn’t want to and certainly didn’t have the motivation.

It all began with us still going on a mini-break to the Lake District only a few weeks after she had died.  A break we had already planned and paid for when our daughter was still alive.  That trip was an extremely hard one for us and we only stayed there for the bare minimum of time. 

We also had lunch at L’Enclume that I had arranged as a belated birthday surprise for my hubby months earlier.  We just went through the motions and returned home early on the final day as we felt lost.

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Cartmel, Lake District

What did you enjoy before?

The things we had enjoyed doing as a family trio were travel. Violet was a true jetsetter and travelled more in her short life then many adults do in theirs. We also liked dining out in new places. 

Admittedly the fondness for dining out was more mine and my hubby’s as Violet disliked food although she did enjoy people watching.  She was always good as gold too preferring to use high chairs to rest her books on for reading. She often got praised by staff for how clean and well behaved she was.    

I work in travel and hospitality PR so my work has always channeled my passion but I felt as though this love had disappeared with Violet.

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Violet watching the Snoopy film on the flight to New Zealand at 7 months old

After the initial Lake District trip we continued to make sure we planned and booked other things in advance. Then we had less chance of being able to back out and change our minds at the last minute.  Don’t get me wrong there were quite a few dinner reservations we made and then couldn’t be bothered going to. Or arrangements with friends we had to back out of as we simply couldn’t face it.

Remember to mark anniversaries

We jointly decided that we should focus on ensuring, despite our misery, that we booked restaurants or mini-breaks for anniversaries and birthdays.  We encouraged each other to make an effort to keep the reservation. We often found that only one of us would wobble and want to back out of plans.  So we worked as a team to persuade each other knowing that it was for the best in the long run.

Book things in advance

We planned trips to places we had already wanted to visit but only for a few days at a time. We knew a big trip would be too much for us.  Places like Florence in Italy for Valentine’s day. Bilbao in Spain to visit the Guggenheim. Montenegro to escape for Violet’s anniversary. Morocco to escape Arthur’s due date etc.

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Sunset in Bilbao, Spain

Slowly but surely after nearly 2 years I can now talk again about travel being a passion of mine without instantly feeling guilty about it. Now I realise that this was also a passion of my daughters and something she would still relish if she was alive today.  I also embraced a new hobby for photography, especially landscape and architecture.  All the photos in this blog are mine.

Always a work in progress

I’ve not yet gotten there with the dining out thing. I’m still fond of food and work in hospitality however we don’t dine out as a couple anywhere near as much as we used to.   I know in time we will and this will be easier too. 

To the “friend” that said to us after Violet died “well at least you can now travel whenever you like and dine out whenever you like”. Well we did travel and dine whenever we liked with Violet. She loved it and we can nearly do this again without pangs of guilt and imagining what she’d have thought of it/been like in these places. Every day is tough.  It’s not as easy as “at least you don’t have to arrange a babysitter” that we’re constantly told by people.

Hang in there with everything in life some things take practice.

Love Sarah

Always Violet Skies x

Grief, Anxiety and Confidence

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Unless people have been through something similar themselves, they don’t really understand that when you’re grieving, yes you go through waves of sadness, anger and frustration at the world but there’s a huge element of anxiety too.

Anxiety

The anxiety affects every aspect of your life. Almost as though because the worst thing ever actually did happen, then what’s to say something else bad isn’t possible too. This heightened sense of danger makes you nervous and afraid of things that previously you wouldn’t have been concerned about.

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Slipping on ice (photo credit: U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Lealan Buehrer)

Like this week the road outside our house was very icy and there was a time I wouldn’t have cared but I was reluctant to go outside, as I know how accident-prone I am. The thought of falling and injuring myself was too scary to contemplate.

Risk avoidance

I find myself constantly trying to avoid risk, whereas as an entrepreneur for many years, risk and calculated odds was something I excelled in. I could easily identify what to take a chance on and what to avoid based on pure instinct. I no longer trust my own instincts.

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Violet the morning of day she died playing happily with her balloon.  Trying to bash me with it!

The morning my little girl died the hospital said she was doing really well and I could see with my own eyes she was better than she had been for weeks. We were all so very happy. I messaged everyone with photos showing how well she was doing. I thanked every single God that she had turned a corner. That evening she died suddenly and I realised that my eyes and instincts could lie. Also that medical specialists don’t know everything. That deeply affects everything else in your life. It makes me question it all. All of a sudden is “green” really green?

Questioning everything

Not only do I question my instincts more but I also worry about things I never used to. I constantly question everything…

Am I doing a good job for my client? (even when they give me positive feedback!) Am I still a nice person?  Have I turned bitter because of losing my child? Have I offended someone somehow because they didn’t phone me back?  Does xxx still like me? What if xxx is just trying to be kind because they feel sorry for me?  Have I made that person uncomfortable with my honesty? Did xxx feel awkward because I brought up a story about my daughter and they didn’t know how to react?  Am I any good at my job? Can I even write? Do I actually know what I’m doing?  Does anyone care about what I think? What if I burst into tears how embarrassing?  What if no one wants to speak to me as they think I’ll be miserable & I’ll depress them because bad things always happen to me? Maybe xxxx is avoiding seeing me because she thinks her baby/pregnancy/kids will upset me?  Perhaps xxxx doesn’t want to have to deal with any negativity as she’s all about positive thinking & I have issues? xxxx clearly doesn’t speak to me anymore or contact me because I make them sad or feel awkward? What if I drive other friends away in the same way? Am I acting odd in social situations?  Am I stuttering? what if…what about…Why did that bad thing happen was it because of me?

Confidence

These constant niggles and questions I now ask myself all the time. They started when Violet died and they aren’t going away.  They increased even more after Arthur died, as he gave us so much hope for the future and then our world became doomed once again. These thoughts now chip chip chip away at my confidence in every area of my life, so some days I almost feel like I shouldn’t even bother. I find it a real challenge to drive myself onwards, often having to give myself evidence as to why certain things aren’t true. Why some things aren’t the case.

I’m seeing a great counsellor, finally (as I have been through a few, some who I made cry & others that ended up being aggressive with me but that’s a post for the future!). They are trying to help me to work through these issues.  You don’t usually hear people talk about confidence and anxiety when they’re grieving but I’m learning now that it is far more common than you think.  Quite a few people I have spoken to who have lost a loved one have said that it also really affected their self-confidence.

Thank you to you all for your patience with me and for helping me to believe in myself again!

Love, Sarah x

Always Violet Skies

You might be interested in reading these posts –

The challenge of a rainbow pregnancy

PTSD with a rainbow pregnancy

I have my rainbow what now?

Our second rainbow

Sleep anxiety with rainbow baby