When Orla died, I became aware of this quote that has been associated with Ronald Reagan who himself lost a child:
“When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them.”
As a lover of words, and as someone who devotes their life to finding ways to which to understand and describe things, this quote stuck with me. We have so many words in the English language and yet not one that captures what it is to be a bereaved parent. ‘Maybe it’s because it is so rare’ some may say. Yet it is not. There are thousands upon thousands of parents who are left questioning their identity in the wake of child loss. Who feel invisible to the rest of the world. And Nicole is someone who refuses to allow this to continue.
Nicole is the founder of Our Missing Peace, a charity that aims to spread awareness of pregnancy, baby and child loss and to help bereaved parents know that they are not alone. Through Nicole, I have become aware of the term Vilomah, which is Sanskrit for ‘against the natural order’. Because that is what baby and child loss is; it is against the natural order of life. Nicole is campaigning to make this word more widely used and to give all parents who have experienced loss a clear identity.
Nicole’s second son, Ben very sadly died when he was four months old. She has three more sons and speaks openly and honestly about her experience of loss, grief and parenting after loss. Nicole can he foundhereand on Instagram @ben_and_breaking_the_silence.
To the Mum who is sat in a public space but secretly dying inside, you are not alone.
To the Dad who is trying to keep it together but is crumbling in his shoes, you are not alone.
To the family who are desperately trying to show the world they are “ok” but behind closed doors are falling apart, you are not alone.
To the family propping them up, you are not alone.
To the friends who don’t know what to say, you are not alone.
To the people who don’t know how to help but are scrambling to find it, you are not alone.
To those of you who are standing in a crowded room screaming but no one is looking up, you are not alone.
To those of you who have no idea how you’ll ever laugh again, you are not alone.
I wish that I didn’t know exactly how dark your days are right now, but I do.
I wish that I didn’t know how much your arms ache, but I do.
I wish that I didn’t know the sound of true pain, but I do.
I wish that I didn’t know what it’s like to no longer belong to a world that loves you, but I do.
I wish I had the answers that would make it all OK again.
I wish I could tell you how I have survived the last 6 years, I have no idea how I have, but what I can tell you is that; I have survived.
I can tell you I laugh without feeling guilty, I can smile and it not be fake, I can see love in the world and I don’t want it to stop to let me off anymore.
I wake up and the world isn’t as scary as it used to be.
I wake up knowing I am stronger than I ever thought was possible.
I wake up knowing what true love is and how precious knowing that is.
I wake up knowing that whatever life throws at me I can handle it.
I wake up knowing that the sadness isn’t constant.
I’m not going to lie to you and tell you my heart isn’t broken, it is, and it always will be.
However, my heart is strong enough to carry on because it has known love like no other!
Take strength in knowing there are those who have gone before you and we are still standing.
In your weakest moments know you are not alone, we are a tribe and we are here.
Help, hope and love is out there; when you are ready you will be able to see it again.
Until then just know, you are not alone xx