On grief and time

My darling baby Sofia should have been 7 today. A whole seven years have passed.

Source: Sonja Langford vis Unsplash

Source: Sonja Langford via Unsplash

I’m sure if my biggest nightmare hadn’t come true, the last seven years of her life would have flown by just the same. No doubt, in the blink of an eye, she would have turned into a grown-up girl while I still considered her my baby.

This past year, more than others, I’ve regularly wondered what she would have been like. What she would have been passionate about, what things would have given her joy.

Would she have loved girly frilly things, would we have watched Frozen endless times together, would she have loved dance lessons or music lessons, would she have wanted a One Direction duvet cover for Christmas?

At Christmas I had bittersweet moments watching Nicholas play with his cousin who was born only 7 months before Sofia. For the first time I watched them playing together imagining him playing instead with his big sister.

Grief, just like parenthood (and how grateful I am to be able to compare them), doesn’t get easier over time; it just gets different.

No matter how your grief path is shaped (and yours will be like nobody else’s), life goes on. Whether you want it to or not, life goes on. Whether you accept what happened or not, life goes on. Whether you’re only able to take the smallest of baby steps or your path scales the steepest of mountains making you cling on terrified you’ll fall or it flattens out and lets you take a breath, your path continues forever. It’s like a rollercoaster you’re destined to ride until you die.

Grief has this amazing ability to lie low for a while, then, seemingly out of the blue, make its presence felt.

Time does, however, make it easier to pick yourself up when you plummet. Time also makes the lows less scary. When grief is raw you can be terrified of never being able to claw your way back up to some sense of normality. Because of this you may lash out and fight as the grief pulls you down. Time makes it easier to accept the inevitable lows, and, by not being so afraid of them and knowing they’ll pass, the lows aren’t as deep or as scary or as long.

Last night, kissing Nicholas’ sleeping head before I went to bed, I felt so thankful to have him, so grateful he’s let me be a hands-on mum. But I was also overwhelmed by the passing of time and how much our lives have moved on since Sofia.

When Sofia was born, we were desperately trying to finish doing up our first home. It was going to be filled with so much love and laughter and life. After she died, I grew to hate the house. It was full of so many wonderful memories of hope and so many dreams of what we had assumed our future would be.

As the months and years passed, the house stayed still just like our lives. Sofia’s nursery remained untouched with the hope it would be filled with a baby brother or sister for her. I made a permanent dent in the sofa from endless hours of sitting on it while watching the seemingly continuous parade of happy mothers out of the window. It was like time had stopped.

Nicholas arrived and we moved out of London, saying goodbye to our sad house. And now after an unsettled period where we weren’t sure where we’d let life take us, we’ve bought our second family home, a house I fell in love with because it filled me with warmth and love as soon as I stepped inside.

We’re starting another phase of our lives, a happier one. But at the same time I feel as if this new phase is putting a bit more distance between me and Sofia. While her memories remain as strong as ever and my arms still ache just as strongly as they did the first day I could no longer hold her, perhaps for the first time since her death I feel time is passing normally.

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2 responses to “On grief and time

  1. Beautifully written Anne. I am thankful to have never lost a child but I have lost a sister, father and am now watching my mum fade away with Alzhiemers. As you say it never goes away. (In fact I think you were a friendly face waiting for me when I got off the school bus my first day back at school after we lost my sister.) I still think about her and what we’ve missed not being able to share our children and lives together. Grief is sadly part of life. I am sure Sofia will always be in your heart in a huge way. So happy to hear about your new place – sounds perfect. Cazxx

  2. Dearest Caz, you’re exactly right saying ‘grief is sadly part of life.’ You have had to walk different grieving paths at different stages of your life, and no doubt now have already started grieving for the mum your mother was before Alzhiemers took its horrible hold. I guess it’s more about accepting grief as part of our lives xx

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