Wednesday, 27 February 2019
To my dear grieving parent ...six years on
Chloe Jane Drury
25/01/1995 - 28/02/2013
I saw a photo of myself the other day and I noticed how much older I looked. I really didn't mind too much. Instead of focussing on the lines creeping up around my eyes and forehead, I saw a largely contented middle-aged woman, who had stared down hell and come through in some way or other. A little tattered and torn, but still burning with love for those who matter so much. I saw a survivor and I liked that.
I also see my Mother's face in mine, more each day. Don't we all? And with that face I am filled with all of the love that she gave me. She feels so much part of who I am. And slowly and surely I am allowing myself to absorb the wonder that was my youngest daughter - she too is filling me with who she was, what she would have been. I have to live for her too now and finally accept her death.
There is always hope, isn't that what they say?
Today is such a sad day. I never imagined for a moment I'd make it this far. How could I? How can a Mother live again after losing a child? The truth is one can never live in the same way.
Chloe died six years ago today. I've talked, written, cried, screamed so much about the injustice of it all and about what she was to me. What she meant to our small family. I love hearing her name, and sharing memories of what she was like...but I seem to have run out of words. As a writer, words have been my craft, my sanctuary, a way of making some sense of something so nonsensical - but they don't work anymore.
But that's ok.
In their place I feel a longing to take Chloe back into the heart of my family. I don't need grand gestures anymore, it's become much much more personal. Is this that final stage of grieving - acceptance? I think it might be. At one point I would have kicked and screamed against this. Acceptance seemed so disloyal to her. I needed to hurt, to "bleed" every moment - "the pain of loss is equal to the power of the love".
Today the sadness is rooted in the very essence of who I am. I can feel it as a physical hole, a physical pain in my heart. But what I've learnt is that's ok and I don't need to medicate it or damp it down anymore. I can sit with it now and embrace my tears as they make me feel closer to my daughter. And that is what matters more than anything else. I love the advice given by psychologist Dr Geoff Warburton in his TED talk about embracing grief www.youtube.com/watch?v=juET61B1P98. In my long, and very full, journey with grief this advice has served me well.
So dear reader - and so many of you write to me and I read every single letter and reflect of your loss and grief too - I felt I wanted to share with you today. My heart trembles a little more when I hear of another Mother, and another one ... about to walk this terrible path. However old a parent is one should never have to shoulder the agony of losing one's child. It really is not fair. So my message, though rambling as it is, is stay steady just for today. I cannot tell you it gets better, because it doesn't and you know that I would be lying if I said that. But you will learn to live with it again. Take tiny steps, don't look up, down, ahead, or behind - go gently and above all be so kind to yourself. The sadness will change shape and you need to keep on going as you are the main guardian of your child's memory. You have a magnificent purpose and job to do and I wish you all the love and strength in the world.
.... oh and I'd love for anybody to raise a glass for my daughter today and maybe a moment's thought. That would mean the world to me.