Ever since Nicola (aka Pea) shared the news that she had written a book on baby loss, I couldn't wait to read it. Having followed Pea (@onedayofwinter) for sometime on social media, I had grown fond of her often thought provoking posts and the ways in how she chose to honour her son Winter, who sadly passed away at one day old.
I was incredibly lucky to have received a copy of Pea's book 'Life After Baby Loss' last week and I am delighted to share my review, only moments after finishing the final chapter!
Pea titles the book as 'Life After Baby Loss - A Companion And Guide For Parents' but even after reading the title, I hadn't realised just how fundamentally important this book would be for bereaved parents. It would be easy to assume that any baby loss book is a personal account of the authors own baby loss experience and whilst Pea does share some experiences, this book is an incredibly selfless act of supporting others. This book is truly aimed to give guidance to others, when faced with baby loss.
The book is thoughtfully split into chapters which aims to support the bereaved parents through the early days of grief, understanding emotions such as anger and jealously, ways in how to still celebrate annual occasions and right through to the emotional turmoil of embarking on and having a rainbow baby. I love that the book has been divided in such a way, as it means that any parent can easily dip in and out of it, depending on where they are in their own personal grief journey.
One of the things that struck me right away, is that Pea hasn't excluded any form of loss in her book. Whether the parents loss be through miscarriage, still birth or neonatal death, Pea invites them all to accept their grief as valid, in such a sensitive way. As Pea puts it so honestly, "suffering is suffering, pain is pain, a loss is a loss." Having experienced two miscarriages myself and understanding the silence and darkness which surrounded those losses, I felt such warmth at having those losses recognised. I know that the recognition of all losses and the acknowledgement of all parents as being parents, will mean so much to so many.
In another form of 'including everyone', from the outset, Pea invites the reader to trade the phrase "baby loss" for another, if the reader feels uncomfortable with the wording. Again, this is such consideration and respect for other parents grief. Immediately this brings a feeling of acceptance as the reader understands that it is okay to chose their own words. Pea understands that every bereaved parents grieves differently.
I have learnt so much from reading this book and in particular, understanding loss from another perspective. I have a deeper understanding of how to deal with my own feelings of anger and guilt, as Pea has been able to show the reality of how these emotions serve little good. Her wise words have also made me feel less bitter towards people who may not understand my personal grief. Having being presented with this alternative perspective, I actually feel emotionally lighter in my own grief. I don't think it is easy to see grief or emotions such as jealousy from a another perspective and in the 2 years since losing Holly, this is the first time I have ever looked at it from another way. What Pea has taught me has actually been monumental in my understanding of my emotions, and I truly feel that her words could help alleviate so many others of the weight of some of their feelings.
Pea has written with so much honesty and integrity but yet has not once taken the spot light away from you, the reader. This book is about you, your grief, supporting you and that objective is not once lost through the pages. I commend Pea for doing this as I for one know how easy it would be to share only a personal experience of loss. Pea makes it clear that the person who matters in this is you, and are her loving stories of Winter serve as a beautiful way to support the notion that 'you are not alone.'
'Life After Baby Loss' is an incredible act of selfless love which needs to be available to all bereaved parents. It is honest, genuine and so full of love. It is the most important book on my bookcase and so many could benefit from reading its words, bereaved parent or not. It has the power to open up the minds of those not touched by baby loss but who wish to support others, and help hold up the hearts of those who have unfortunately embarked on their own baby loss journey.
It is packed full of words of support, ideas to continue honouring your baby, tips to help communicating with those who do not understand your grief, ways to understand and challenge damaging emotions and above all, the understanding that love powers all.
It is beautifully illustrated by @selftherapist and her honest drawings compliment the delicate and sensitive nature of the book. Beautifully illustrated and beautifully written.
Winter, thank you for teaching your mummy so much and Pea, thank you for writing and sharing his wise words.
Life After Baby Loss - A Companion and Guide For Parents by Nicola Gaskin, is available to purchase here:
On the 7th September 2016 at 25 weeks gestation, Holly was born, still after a battle with complete heart block.