Losing a child is fear for all parents. It’s so frightening that we push the thought from our mind…or obsess about it. Blogger Oana Papaconstantinou of Mama’s Haven speaks about what it is really like to lose a child.
In July 2014, Georgie, my then five and a half month son, died of an aggressive form of leukaemia.
Losing a child is a parent’s worst nightmare and nothing can ever prepare your heart and soul for the tsunami of emotions that ensues the physical loss.
What I was never prepared for were what the specialists call “secondary losses” of my faith, friends, possibly my marriage and of my identity, which have proved to be as traumatic as the loss of my beloved son.
Losing my faith
In the aftermath of his death, shock was soon replaced by anguish and then anger.
I had been raised to believe in a God who cares for us and loves the little children but being on that cancer ward with my baby and seeing the extent of suffering and misery that children go through every single day made me doubt that belief.
I was told that people in church were my brothers and sisters in Christ but once Georgie’s body disappeared in a plume of ashes I found myself utterly alone in the face of the most terrifying giant, Grief, as most of them disappeared as well.
Trying to live in the aftermath
The first year after Georgie died was all about survival. I had short-term memory loss, due to the trauma we had suffered, and my energy was entirely consumed in the cruel game of what I now call relearning to live. Reprogramming my mind to accept life as it now was proved a full-on battle and making sense of it all took about 12 months.
At the end of that first year, my mind grew tired of fighting and asking the “whys“. I had had terrible sleep issues and I found that accepting the reality as it was, with its randomness and cruelty, allowed my body to relax and my mind to rest so in the end, I had to choose to make “peace” with my life as it stood.
I thought that this was the beginning of my recovery, that’s what we learn in movies and books, right?
It was not over
Acceptance is the beginning of wisdom, they say. But whoever said that did not take into account grief and its circular, destructive cycles.
Acceptance has not offered a protective shroud against the pain that has continued to hit periodically and randomly, triggered by anniversaries and flashbacks.
Acceptance is not the ticket out of the maze of grief, as I had hoped it would be.
In this second year, grief has taken other forms, more terrifying in their purging force than the loss of faith and friends I had experienced the previous year.
These past few months, grief has been, like a magnifying glass, picked at the very core of who I am.
I am no longer the person before the loss, for sure.
But who am I?
I am a strong, determined mama who needs to find a new meaning to her life.
I was robbed of my child and with him, I was robbed of my identity as a mother, a wife, a human being.
These past two years have all been about tearing down in order to rebuild a life in which I feel happy and in charge.
I am still very much on the path.
I know now that I can survive the unthinkable, the unmentionable but can I also find new meaning for my life, out of the immense sense of loss I have been experiencing?
Only time will tell…
About the author: Oana Papaconstantinou of Mama’s Haven also writes the BritMum’s Life Changes Round-up covering the thorny issues in life and is BritMums’ Health Editor. Find her on social media @MamasHaven.
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