The week before last I found myself in a rather uncomfortable situation. Having turned up at the dentist for a routine appointment, I found myself in somewhat of a 'Spanish Inquisition.'
The receptionist (rightly doing her job) commented on the fact that I had missed a previous appointment. I apologised and used the words 'family bereavement' to give reason to my non attendance. The receptionist (not rightly so) dismissed my claims of a family bereavement and continued to press as to why I hadn't attended and rather horribly began to have a go at me.
I found myself in a really difficult situation. It was just past 9am and to be honest I had started the day on a really positive note. I hadn't expected to (in a queue full of people) feel compelled to explain that 'actually it was my daughter who died and cancelling appointments was not my priority.' After I said those words, the mood shifted. It was clear I had made her very uncomfortable and what followed was a quick ushering to finish our conversation quietly. I left the dentist in tears.
It's not that I don't want to talk about Holly because I actually love to talk about her. But talking about Holly is on my terms. By that I don't mean that you can't talk to me about Holly or ask me questions. I mean that no one should ever force and press you to explain yourself, least of all a complete stranger. I felt violated and forced into explaining Holly's death when actually, it was none of her business.
The days that followed were a struggle. I can't explain exactly WHY but what had happened with that receptionist had really affected me. I felt depressed and angry. I shouldn't have had to even had use those words because my daughter should never had died. I felt angry that some stranger had made me feel like this. Sure, she wasn't to know but why can't people just leave things be? After all, you would think a reason given of 'family bereavement' would be more than enough to explain a missed appointment.
What happened that day got me thinking. I know that no one can read a person's mind and know what has happened. But I do think that there is a way of going about things;
If you have a job to do, that's great but please be nice. You never know what someone is dealing with in their private lives. It takes very little effort to be kind.
If you don't have anything nice to say then please, don't say anything. For many people the topic of death (let alone infant death) brings about awkwardness. It is fine to just acknowledge our loss and tell us you are sorry. If you don't 'agree' with us talking or sharing pictures about our babies then please just leave. Our children will always come before you.
If you can't deal with the reality of our situation and our answers to your questions then please, don't ask us. We know that often people don't know what to say but the last thing we need is to have you make us feel uncomfortable when talking about our babies. The uncomfortable feeling that you may feel for a few minutes is an everyday part of our lives.
I never want people to have to worry about what they say to me when talking about Holly because I understand it is difficult. I just wish that people would think a little before they speak and most importantly just be kind. I would never be angry at someone's good intentions and I don't think many others would either. We all have our struggles, demons or broken hearts but wouldn't the world be a much nicer place if we all just gave a little more consideration to others?
We all have our own notions of grief. Prior to losing Holly, I can honestly say that I had never experienced it. Grief isn't something which is talked about much, until it happens. I expected sadness and pain but I didn't expect the silence.
My grief feels like silence and it has done ever since this all began. Scans filled with silence and silent car journeys between my husband and I. Silent tears as my gut instinct told me Holly would never survive upon hearing her diagnosis.
Silence when Holly was born. Where were her cries? Where was the excitement? Where were the cries of joy? Silence when I cradled her in my arms and cocooned my body around her basket when I was no longer able to hold her. Silence when we left the hospital with just a memory box.
Silence when we registered her birth and death, silence when we sat in the funeral home picking out her coffin and silence when I kissed her goodbye for the last time. Silence at the crematorium and silence where there should be two babies in the house, not one. Memories of Holly filled with silence.
Just so much silence.
There can be as much love around you as you could possibly ask for when you lose a baby. There can be so much love, sympathies and well wishes but it doesn't stop the silence. It's a silence which you so desperately want to be filled but it cant, so instead the empty silence travels through your universe with no destination and no signs of halting. Just a constant hurtling comet of silence.
Some days the silence is so loud. It is so loud that it is consuming and exhausting. Its an ear shrieking, high pitched silence with nowhere to go and so it just reverberates inside you, aching and hurting. An unwanted silence, a much present emptiness.
Some days the silence likes to play. It will hide and hide well. Your day is filled with much welcomed noise and distractions. And then you pause and wonder where this relief has come from but block out that thought as if scared you might suddenly jinx it into showing itself. But you needn't worry because it does, eventually.
People can tell you that you aren't alone. After all, you are not the first to lose a baby and you wont be the last. And whilst it can bring some comfort to hear the support, every loss is different as is the grief. I have learn't that there can be no expectations in grief as my silence wont reflect someone else's loss. There quite simply, is no normal.
I don't like my silence but it is my personal reminder of Holly, as if I could ever forget. And I would always chose having it over having never 'had' my Holly. I think my silence is really just my love for her after all.
But I do wish I could chose to have Holly here and banish the silence all together.
On the 7th September 2016 at 25 weeks gestation, Holly was born, still after a battle with complete heart block.