I feel like an old hand at babyloss grief now – 11 and a half years in and I know how to function well with my grief, I know how it can surprise me when I least expect it, I know that I will miss my boy for the rest of my life, I know I am grateful for being on the other side of the intensity of grief and I know how to look after myself. It has taken a long time to reach this point.
We all do grief differently and there is now more conversation about baby-loss on social media, which is a good thing – anything that attempts to ease the isolation of baby-loss, to create more awareness, support and conversation for grieving families has to be a good thing.
However, a few life-after-baby-loss posts this year have made me think because everything on social media can be subjective and interpreted differently. These are well-intentioned, honest, supportive posts but they are a snap-shot and they often don’t convey the emotion, the desperation and the pain that the poster has experienced. And when I saw a comment on a post saying “I wish I could be as together as you”, it struck me that some posts could also be doing some unintentional harm.
There can be an expectation of ‘getting over it’ where baby-loss is concerned – grieving parents can desperately want the pain to end and to feel normal again and the people around them can make comments like “when they are over it”, “you will get over this” – it is usually well meant although comments like “they need to get over it now” can also be made and overheard.
The truth is that there is no getting over it but many parents can and do adapt to a new life, learning to live with their loss and grief. Most social media posts are really positive but they tend to show strong women with their shit together – they could be crumbling inside, but that might not be what is being presented on social media. This can provide a lot of hope for grieving parents but it could also provide unrealistic expectations.
There is no way around this but I guess what I am saying is, grief is a forever journey with a lot of emotions, with highs, with a new normality and with some intense lows. As I keep saying we are all different, we all have different support around us, we all deal with emotions differently, so our life after baby-loss is unique to us. It is ok if you don’t have your shit together, if just getting through the day (or just hour by hour) is where you are at; if you are struggling with your mental health or that your life seems very different from the images presented on social media.
From one grieving parent to another – please don’t force yourself to appear better when you are struggling; please don’t feel that you can’t open up because others seem to have it all together and, like all things on social media, please don’t compare your grief and how you are doing with someone else. Focus on what you need to help you heal better. Look after you.