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  • Writer's picturethesepreciouslittlepeople

When you aren't feeling a 'spring' in your step

Updated: Aug 6, 2021

If you're reading this in the UK it's undeniable by now that spring has sprung; Mother's Day is this Sunday, daffodils are everywhere, Easter is not far away. But what if the colour of the sky reflects how blue you feel inside? What if the blossom fluttering down from the trees already is only serving as a reminder of how fleetingly beautiful and fragile everything can be?

It was just over six years ago that I was poised to announce that I was pregnant with my first baby, and my 30th birthday was also coming up. I was so very excited to be entering a new decade as a mum; I felt so ready to be honoured with the privilege and responsibility that comes with motherhood. A new season beginning felt like the perfect echo of the new little person growing inside of me and the new stage of life I was entering into. I felt fit to burst with excitement and all the joys of spring were, that year, inextricably tied up with all the expectation that came along with my pregnancy. Just six months later I had given birth, I was a proud mummy to a gorgeous girl, yet I had unbearably empty arms because we'd had to say goodbye so soon after saying hello. A year later I was facing the milestones of another birthday and Mother's Day without my daughter being there to celebrate those special occasions with us. It was difficult to contemplate how the world could still be turning when it all seemed so wrong, it was so far from how I'd imagined motherhood and the agony of my broken heart felt so raw. I had to find ways to include her, and even with this being my sixth Mother's Day without Esme it is no different - she remains our missing piece.

New leaves and blossom buds appearing on our 'Esme tree' in our garden

I've been getting out in the garden tending to our various plants that we have in memory of Esme, and I'm hoping we can visit her grave this weekend. The woodland where she is buried is a peaceful and stunningly beautiful place; being amongst nature (and away from the commercial aspect of Mother's Day or expectations of others) brings me some much needed respite from the waves of grief when they inevitably come crashing down at this time of year.

Our daughter's grave; brightened up with flower petals

If you are finding this time of year particularly challenging and triggering, for whatever reason, it might be useful to simply retreat for a while and do whatever you need to do to protect your grieving heart. Communicate your needs - those around us may want to help and support us but aren't mind readers... if there's things you would like to happen (or not - the thought alone of going out for a meal amongst other 'complete' families might be excruciating), don't be afraid to ask. Sometimes the pressure that surrounds what is essentially just another day without our precious little people can be relieved by concentrating on what brings you comfort and trying to stay in the moment. When I was going through therapy soon after Esme died, my counsellor took me through a very powerful mindfulness exercise that helped me regain some calm and composure when all that was racing through my brain was threatening to totally overwhelm me. It was a simple grounding and breathing technique that I have continued to practice at times of emotional stress, and I hope some of these tips can help you too if you ever find it difficult to cope with symptoms of grief/PTSD.

I don't have much more that's original or particularly profound to say right now so thought instead I'd share some links that might be useful if you're looking for ideas as to how to remember your precious little people gone too soon and to hopefully help you get through what can be a painful time of year.

Nicola Gaskin wrote the amazing 'Life After Baby Loss: A Companion & Guide For Grieving Parents', which includes a section on how to survive special occasions without your baby. The lovely Hannah Pontillo has helped design a range of cards for bereaved mothers, available from Thortful, all profits going to the charity Kicks Count.

Jess, of Legacy of Leo, has put together a really useful gift guide for bereaved mothers over on her blog. Zoë has created some beautiful pieces of jewellery, trainer tags, keyrings, etc, that can be personalised - find out more over at Claire at Foiled by Design produces stunning prints and cards, and is very happy to collaborate with you to customise or create new designs to suit you. The charity MAMA Academy has also started a new fundaraising and awareness raising initiative, Carry Their Names, which is an inspiringly positive and meaningful way of including our babies in everyday activities as well as hopefully helping them reach far flung destinations. It is running until the autumn, culminating in October, Baby Loss Awareness month.

Please remember that it's not just bereaved mothers that can find this time of year tough - our grief - signs of which can be increased irritability, tears coming from nowhere, anxiety rearing its ugly head - can affect our partners and our living children too - it might be worth reminding them that they DO bring us happiness, just as missing our little ones gone too soon brings us sorrow. We are capable of experiencing both of these emotions, and more besides, sometimes all at once. Life after loss is confusing and bittersweet in so many ways. This time five years ago I decided to take part in a '30 days of Muchness Challenge' to help me capture any sparks of joy that came my way - this is something that you could try doing with others to encourage a spirit of gratitude.

The book I have written for children affected by the death of a baby is a much-needed addition to the genre of children’s books that deal with bereavement; find out more about These Precious Little People here, and order a copy here.



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