The right to not be judged
People pass judgment. Even if they don't intentionally mean to do it, people judge all the time. Every day we are asking ourselves questions based on what we see or hear going on in the world around us. Would I wear that piece of clothing or act that way in a certain situation? Would I parent my child that way or talk to a colleague in that manner? Without helping what our thought processes are, we are creating the world around us from our experiences.
Some people feel bad for what judgements they have made. Some people don't. Some people learn from their judgments and therefore try to feel or act differently. But when we experience such situations ourselves, ones which we have previously judged, it changes our entire perspective.
I am going to be totally honest with you. Before experiencing losing Holly, I had my own judgement's on coping with loss although I don't think I would have ever voiced them. I would like to think that I have enough sympathy to understand its not my place to say, if not enough empathy to truly understand the pain. We all have our own ideas and judgments on what we considered 'normal.' That being said, the past me must think I am very 'abnormal' right now.
I had photographs taken at my baby's funeral. I have photographs of me in tears. Would the past me have passed judgement on someone having photographs at their baby's funeral? Probably. I would have probably thought it was weird and maybe even inappropriate to have photos of a funeral. But on the day that I said goodbye to my baby, on the day that went past in a blur, I am so happy that I can look at those photos and know EXACTLY how I feel, its the feeling of the extent to which my heart can love.
Would I have passed judgement on someone who decided to see their baby four weeks after they had been born and after a post mortem? Maybe. I might have wondered why would you want to see your baby in that state when you can take away what memories you already have. But for me (as I must stress that there is no right or wrong) I was so relieved to see her. I am so happy that I could make more memories with her, seeing Holly again helped opened the block in brain and allowed me to acknowledge that it was okay to mourn because there she was, my beautiful little girl. She had really 'happened' and she had come back from her post mortem safe. After the blur of the previous four week it helped me to see that Holly was real.
Would I have passed judgement on someone who kept hold of their babies ashes? Yes, I think so. I always imagined that it would seem odd or even a little spooky to have someones ashes in your home! But now I understand why people want to hold on, its all that you have. I picked up Holly's ashes yesterday and brought her home. She came home in a tiny box, in a paper bag. That was my baby's home coming. Do I want to let go of her ashes? It might change one day but right now not a flipping chance am I losing her again. Holly is staying with me, exactly where she should be.
Would I have passed judgement on someone who openly shared their feelings and experiences on losing their baby? I'm not sure. I may have felt sorry for them that they were still struggling. I would have thought they were very brave but I may have also felt some things are best kept to themselves. This one is important for me. Whatever you read on my blogs, whatever you read on other blogs or see on the news only scratches the surface of what we feel. You may think its alot to share but for us, its not even the first chapter in the book. The depth of our feelings is eternal. What we have experienced is so monumental that words will never be enough. The experiences we do share are the ones that we don't mind others knowing for most of it we keep locked, close to out hearts like a treasure box that only we can open. What I do write, I chose to share because it helps me to cope, It helps me to talk about Holly and it helps me to know that people care. I don't blog about Holly because I am not yet 'over it' or 'still struggling' because it is something I will never get over and missing her will never stop being a struggle. We write because its all we have.
Prior to having Holly I cared ALOT about what people thought of me. I didn't want to be judged or disliked, I wanted to act the way I thought people wanted me to. Having Holly has showed me that it doesn't matter what people think of you. When something so soul destroying happens, its all you can do to put one foot in front of another. You don't have time to care about what other people think.
You. Just. Don't. Care.
Having Holly has changed my perspective on judgment. I still think its human nature to 'pass judgment' but YOU can change what you do with those thoughts after. Grief is so personal and so individual that there is no right or wrong way about it. Nobody is 'weird' for doing whatever they do to cope and no pity needs to be given if someone 'hasn't got over it yet.' You can't get over grief.
I wont stop writing about Holly. I wont stop talking about Holly. I wont stop sharing her pictures or showing how I cope because it is all HOW I cope. I wont ever judge how someone copes because its keeping them alive. Everyone has the right to not be judged so be kind, be thoughtful and let those who are grieving just keep going. They are doing the best that they can.
Wave of Light
Anyone who has lost a baby understands how utterly heartbreaking it is.
Two years ago I had a miscarriage and I felt feelings that I didn't think were possible. I entered a darkness because I couldn't talk to people about what had happened. I wanted to but other people simply didn't know what to say. I did find however, that so many people had experienced a pregnancy loss. 1 in 4 to be exact. How are these numbers so high and yet so little discussed on the matter?
There seems to be somewhat a taboo about discussing a pregnancy that never came to be. With my little Holly, born sleeping at 25 weeks, less so of a taboo but it IS still there. Is it simply because people don't know what to say? Or is it because it hasn't happened to them that they lack the empathy needed to understand the heartbreak?
This is what we have these awareness weeks and month for. Its to help those who have lost a baby to feel that they can discuss it, without fear of judgment. I think, just as importantly, its for those who don't understand how pregnancy loss can affect someone, to be able to empathise and listen.
The statistics for pregnancy loss are incredibly sad. 2.6 million stillborn babies were reported last year. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. Everyday, on average, 11 babies are born stillborn in the UK. Stillbirth, in particular, is 15 times more likely to happen than a baby dying of cot death. The statistics are HIGH. While somethings can be done to prevent miscarriages and stillbirths occurring, some simply cannot and that's were the need for emotional awareness is just as high as the need for healthy pregnancy awareness.
This month, the annual Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness week is being held the 9th - 15th, concluding with an international wave of light, where candles are lit, all over the world at 7pm (local time) to remember babies and support the awareness. I hope you will all share in lighting a candle, sharing this post and breaking the silence because after all, you never think it'll happen to you, until it does.
On the 7th September 2016 at 25 weeks gestation, Holly was born, still after a battle with complete heart block.