This month it is two years ago I last celebrated Oscar’s birthday with him and I find myself trying so hard to be normal that I have to remind myself that it is ok to grieve and that it is important that I sit down and think about my boy. Every day is hard but the run up to big family occasions like Oscar’s birthday is even harder. But grieving is not only ok, it is something I need to do – take time every day and dedicate that time to Oscar, mentally going through what has happened, why it has happened, why I can’t change it and why I must accept it and how I can keep going. And it is mind blowingly tiresome, both mentally and physically, but there is no way around it. I still cry every day, sometimes a little and sometimes a lot.
This is one of the hardest parts to explain about losing a child – it is not a wish to keep torturing ones self, it is just unavoidable. And it is definitely easier to pretend to friends, family and people around you that you are coping, because not only does it stop the pity looks and comments, it stops the focus on you as the parent who lost a child, the one you have to tread carefully around. And herein lies a big problem – because I am fragile, yet I don’t want to be treated as fragile. I am in pain, yet I don’t want people acknowledging my pain all the time. I want to pretend all is normal, yet nothing really is. I want to go out and have fun, but when I try an emptiness comes over me and I look at the people I surround myself with, whose whole lives evolves around them having fun and I can’t feel the fun – although I think that I hope it rubs off on me. I am there physically but I might as well be sat watching a show; the chat, the laughter – it just doesn’t penetrate the world I often retreat to.
I am aware I have to keep trying to find the joy in everyday life. And I do feel happy when the five of us are together – me and Ian and our three boys -but that is too much pressure on them, particularly the boys, if for life they are my sole source of happiness. I cope well in one to one situations as well because I am forced to “be present” and probably one day I will get better at big groups again. Until then those close to me will just have to tell themselves that it is nothing personal when I don’t howl with laughter with them. If I am there it is because I choose to be and that is as good as it gets for and from me for a while. There will be no quick fix – grieving parents are far beyond fairy tales.