I’m just the new girl… #38

In a bid to get my ‘blog on’ again I have finally penned a little something I’ve been experiencing recently. Sorry guys it’s a long one… but I’M BACK!

My reason for the lack of content lately has been a mixture of not enough time and not feeling as good about everything as I would like. I know the purpose of my blog is to be honest but not only do I feel like all my thoughts have been jumbled lately I have also been in quite a negative head space and for those who know me you will know that’s not me.

I know I come across as happy, bubbly and ‘ok’ the truth is although I am functioning and of course I am enjoying my life with my boys and my husband and of course having our own home again after moving but the reality is I don’t actually think I will ever be ‘ok’ again!

Death changes you, my experience has changed me, I am not quite the person I was before, I am still here but I have changed. Moving to a completely different place comes with it a new set of challenges. I am now the ‘new girl’ no one knows me, knows my past, knows what happened – well actually a few people do now as Archie seems to think it’s a great conversation starter to tell people he has a dead sister! So I regress back to those awkward conversations, where people don’t know what to say, I find myself saying ‘I’m fine’, ‘don’t worry you haven’t upset me’ and then wondering if they will stop to talk to me next time.

Those awkward weeks after Betty died and Archie had just started primary school where we barely knew anyone and as people passed me by and said hello I wondered if they knew what had happened, or did they wonder where the baby went? In time of course I realised that in fact they all knew and whilst many of those wonderful women at the School gate have gone on to become some of my best friends, they didn’t know what to say, but the fact they were not silent with me, they took the time to ask me how my weekend was or what I was upto the following one meant more than anything.

Recently I am so frequently reading about other baby loss mummies who are constantly facing the awkward conversations and ‘twatish’ comments from strangers or maybe friends who forgot to engage their brains or have a think about what they should say before they open their mouths, and whilst I am all for saying something rather than crossing the road but at the same time if you say something that afterwards you think may have been misconstrued or not right correct yourself or apologise next time. If your not sure what to say, just make some nice conversation, we aren’t all doom and gloom we can have a fun conversation and it doesn’t always have to revolve around what happened to us.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want any friends or people who have spoken to me reading this racking their brains and start apologising for things they think may not have been appropriate, rest assured if I’m still talking to you then we are all good!

I think to date one of the worst things someone said to me at the school gate whilst telling me her brother died around the same time as Betty was that she wanted to say something to me she just couldn’t as she didn’t know me that well and she feels that everyone has their own crap to deal with and they don’t want to hear about yours (i.e mine) which is why people probably avoid me! I know this comment came out of her mouth so rapidly she wasn’t even thinking about it, but it took her nearly 2 years to talk to me again anyway and then she said that. Not cool. You are a twat. (Not that she will read this – or realise she said something so awful)

So the point I’m trying to make, we need to educate more people about grief, child loss and conversations associated with both. Maybe just by reading this, in some way it can help you next time you experience a friend or even a stranger who has been through something similar and you have that awkward conversation, just a simple how are you, it’s so lovely to see you, I would love a cuppa sometime so we can have a proper chat. There’s no need to be afraid of us, Nine times out of ten if you ask us if we are ok we will say ‘yes’ we aren’t going to break down on you and start crying uncontrollably and if we do, take it as a compliment that we feel comfortable enough with you to do so.

I don’t profess to be any type of expert, I even find myself re-reading things before I send them to other baby loss mummies that I know, even tho I know how they feel I still worry I might upset them with things I say. But I am more conscious to try and think carefully about what I say before I send it, we all make mistakes, it’s not easy for anyone, but most of us are conditioned to make small talk and have a conversation with someone be it a stranger or friend. There are certain conversation starters we, as humans use to engage with each other, if we all took a little time to think about how we can adapt these in social situations where we encounter people who have experienced the death of a child or a loved one then more people will be going home every night on a brighter foot not having been floored by a silly comment or conversation. What may seem innocent or ‘normal’ to most can actually be very damaging to someone who is dealing with grief after a loss.

Be kind, be there, don’t mention ‘you’ve got your boys’ or ‘everything happens for a reason’ we all know it could be true – but how can we justify the death of a child? You can’t, ultimately you need to take your lead off the person your talking to, don’t press them for information but listen and try to agree without judgement, whilst in an ideal world we should all look at the positives, I am healthy, I have other children, I have a beautiful home and family, ultimately I know all these things but my daughter will always be dead. So whilst I grow out of being the new girl in this playground, sadly I left being the new girl in the playground of grief some time ago and everyday multiple women take my place starting their journey through this rocky path.

If you encounter one of us, be thoughtful, don’t ignore us, think of me and what you would ask or tell me, and try to be there for them wether they want you or not. If all else fails just say ‘I’m so sorry to hear that, I don’t know what to say, but if you ever need a listening ear, I can be here for you with cake and a cuppa’ let’s face it everything seems better after cake and sometimes just knowing people are there for you when your the new girl is all you need.

Jen

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