For years after my son Jack died, every time I looked in the mirror it was like looking at a stranger.
I would look at my reflection and think, “I don’t know you. Who are you?”
Even now, nine years since his death, from time to time, I still look at my reflection and miss the woman I was before he died. I miss everything that we had together.
What I miss the most is my fearlessness.
The woman I was didn’t carry the anxiety and worry, the second-guessing and fear that I often find myself caught up in now.
That old me knew she was so capable and resourceful. She blazed ahead confident that she would work everything out.
She rarely doubted her ability to just handle whatever came.
Then Jack died.
And so did the woman I was.
I’ve regained some of that woman over the years.
I can once again find pleasure and beauty in life.
I’ve rediscovered my feisty and fiery nature.
I am more grateful and express that gratitude more openly.
It took a long time, but eventually I learned to love again – fully, deeply, and wholeheartedly.
However, I also worry a lot more now.
I worry about those that I love and losing them.
I have a high need for things to be planned out – and those plans kept.
Last minute cancellations or changes bring up wave of anxiety and a reminder of how life can change so drastically in a moment.
I have a high need to feel in control and to know what’s going on.
I get stressed more easily than I used to.
I will try new ideas and new adventures, but with a lot more anxiety and nervousness.
I feel this urgency to do everything there and then, experience everything, and accomplish as much as possible as soon as possible – because I am acutely aware that life can end in a split second.
As I grieve so intensely for my son Jack, I also lost that fearless woman that I used to be; Jacks mum who wished she could have protected him.
I miss her innocence, her easy trust in the world, and her confidence that everything would work out as desired. I miss the naive woman that thought that children don’t die.
I lost my son and the woman I was supposed to be and never was, the woman I would have been had Jack lived and stayed here on earth with me. The woman who should have saved him. It’s hard to picture who that might have been and what life might have been like as her.
At this point, I’ve grown comfortable in the skin of this new woman that I am. Most of the time, I can look in the mirror and not feel so disconnected from the person I see reflected back. She just is who I am now.
I’ve learned to accept the changes to who I was and to embrace the woman I have become:
* Fiercely committed to trying to be happy even after not-so-happy-endings.
* Determined to see and experience the beauty of life even in it’s messiness.
* A lot more anxious than I would like.
* Impatient to experience more of life now, as I know it can change in an instant.
* Grateful, compassionate and empathetic.
* Highly aware that there is so much I cannot control despite my repeated attempts.
* Understanding that I will have good, bad and some awful days for the rest of my life.
* Fiercely committed to breaking the taboo around child death and helping those who sadly experience it.
This is who I am now, carved and created out of love and loss. I’m not who I was and I’m not who I would have been.
No matter what happens in life, however, I am Jack and Summers mummy.
This is the one piece of who I am that not even death can change
We cannot change the person that grief makes us.
Don’t be ashamed of who you are or how you feel.
You are carved and created out of love and loss
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