Keren Baker is a mum of 6, including 2 teenagers, 1 tween and she’s still surviving (just!) she wrote recently for BritMums asking about how you create your friendships. this time she goes very deep and touches on the very delicate subject of losing a child
Ok – thorny emotional subject coming up… Losing a child – can it ever be positive?
What did you just say?
Is that a serious question?
Well anyone with half a compassionate bone in their body is going to give an answer of ‘no’. Are you kidding?
Well, I’m not about to say that losing one of our children was a positive experience.
How could it possibly be? I still bear the scars.
Losing our daughter 6 years ago was the singularly most tragic and traumatic thing our family has had to face. I marvel that our family is still intact.
We had help though. We didn’t face it alone. My faith did, & continues to give me the ultimate hope. We also had some incredible people that stood with us.
But, has anything positive come from having empty arms.
I’m not listing the negatives today. I’m focusing on the positive things I’ve learned through bereavement- and they are lessons I’m fortunate to have learned despite wishing to have experienced them through a different situation.
Singing (badly) Big Yellow Taxi reminds me ‘don’t it always seem to go, you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone’. So true.
Kids are precious but it’s hard to know just how precious they are until they’re not with you anymore. I’m thankful for my memory- never valued that before either. My memories of Natalie are so incredibly precious.
Mostly I’m thankful that we had that short 2.5 years. I have friends who have never had children, they’d love to have even one. I’ve had 6 kids. We are so very blessed.
We live in a culture that sees most of their offspring reach adulthood. We’re the lucky ones. Look across at the developing world, mothers routinely seeing children die from completely preventable disease. They face pain & sadness as a nearly inevitable part of life. I’m grateful that I live in a country where children normally get to live to adulthood and beyond.
I learnt soon after about real friends. Some slid away. Some, despite the awkwardness & difficulty of our situation stuck with us. If despite my pain & complexity you’re my friend- you are worth your weight in gold. I learnt who my real friends were & how much I valued them.
The opportunity to begin again. This one was a real gift. Once you’ve known real tragedy, you become a little ‘untouchable’. People are far more accepting & forgiving of unusual behaviour or stranger decisions. They’ll often pass it off as a result of trauma. It sometimes is.
The thing is, I could have gotten away with dying my hair 15 wild colours, or joining in some crazy scheme, but instead we got to re-evaluate our lives, decide whether what we were doing was actually what we wanted to do and make changes. I know, you can do that any time but this forced us to rethink, to say no to going places, and decide exactly how to do life. It made us a little braver than usual & I’m glad for that.
Lastly (& not exhaustively) it pushed me to learn new things I learnt to set up a website to help other bereaved parents. I wrote a book and connected with many other parents in the same boat as me. In my new me (which was a weaker and more vulnerable version) I had gained a better idea of who I was, learned about my weaknesses & gained a better view of what the world was really all about.
Can losing a child be positive.
Did I want to waste the struggle by not learning from it?
I’m still struggling, still grieving and still learning
So are many of you reading this too.
a great website with some unique and encouraging ideas to help you and your children to grieve.
A web site for the Saying Goodbye services; a national set of remembrance services for people who have suffered loss at any stage of pregnancy, at birth or in infancy.
Keren Baker works from home mostly doing Freelance Craft design and demonstrating. She loves being creative and that often extends to creatively avoiding the ironing or ‘creating’ cake. She lives in the ‘North’ although she spent a couple of years in the south. For downtime (of which there’s not a lot), you’ll find her making stuff , watching period dramas or dreaming of a day or two by herself somewhere warm and quiet! She has a craft blog- which is the bread-and butter business/inspiration blog & a brand new solely parenting blog 6 kids plus me
Keren tweets @CraftStampInk.
Keren also wrote a book Empty Arms which can be found on Amazon