Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Imagination versus Reality

Hands up who has heard the following after losing a loved one, in particular perhaps a child or spouse? Or perhaps thought this of someone who has lost someone?:

1. You are so strong!
2. How do you keep going?
3. I cannot imagine being in your shoes.
4. How do you get out of bed in the morning?

In my own personal experience of losing my son, I have concluded for myself that the imagined reality of losing a child can perhaps be "worse-different" (my own word creation) than the actual reality of living it.

I have been there...before and after. Once I became a mother, watching programs on TV about losing a child/something horrible happening to children/sick children would make me look at Patrick, my healthy, gorgeous boy and shudder. While it might have upset me before as well, it hit me at a whole new different level. I could not imagine what it would be like if this or that happened to him. Surely, I would no longer be able to function. Like, when you hear of a cot death, you immediately think of your own and picture them in that circumstance and your brain goes into a meltdown.

As absolutely horrible, life-changing and detrimental Patrick's death has been to me, living with this reality is strangely not as horrendously bad as I would have previously imagined this situation to be. (Speaking from my own experience only!)

You see...I do not have a choice. Like it or not...this is my new normal. I did not get to decide on this or opt out of it. I have to learn to live with it and once we get thrown into situations, we tend to adapt...at our own pace.

1. I may appear strong but what else am I supposed to do? I sometimes do not want to have to be strong but life keeps on happening around me and pulls me with it. The cracks are there all the same ... don't let that fool you. Half the time, I am only half-present, mentally. The other half I am not sure who I am anymore and seem to wander aimlessly on this strange path learning something new about the new me.

2. You have got to keep going. There is no choice. The sun comes up every morning like before. Even though, as my husband so aptly put it, you are angry that the sun did come up the day after. How dare the world keep turning when it just ground to a halt for you? How dare the birds keep chirping? Hadn't they heard?

3. Imagining going through something like this, wondering, what you would do if this happened to your child...I think is traumatic enough in its own right. If I meet people and they hear about Patrick and I see the shock and sadness in their eyes, I know that they will most likely, at least for a while, re-evaluate their own life. They will think of their kids and hug them that bit tighter that night, thanking God they are OK. I know that is what I would have done/do.

4. You put one foot in front of the other and keep plodding along. Some days are good, some bad, some outright horrible.

But...I now tend to try and be more grateful for the time we had with Patrick, remembering his life and not just his death. I am grateful for the way his brother came along so quickly and indeed, for being able to have another healthy baby in the first place. I am thankful that I have my husband, my rock, my friend and my shoulder to cry on. And for being able to be his (smaller) rock when he needs it. I believe I would struggle more if it was not for him and Eoghan.

Things could have been and could be so much worse. I try and remember that when this huge sense of loss tries to get the better of me at times.

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