Letters To The Other Chair

To those who go {un}noticed…

Loss can bring so many people into your lives; individuals you had no idea existed; professions that you had never needed before; whole networks that seek to make the worst days of your life that bit more manageable.  It may be part of their job to help the bereaved, but to the bereaved what they do is so much more than just a job.  And In this letter, Lindsey from @elsiesmoon captures her experience perfectly

“We are Elsie’s Mummy & Daddy, Lindsey & Chris.  Elsie was born on 3rd August 2018, with a super speedy, drama-queen entrance into the world. Much to Mummy & Daddy’s surprise, she had a full head of long fluffy, black hair – the ginger and bald genes were nowhere to be seen! Elsie fought hard for 17 hours, she did us so proud. Her short little life has made lasting memories for everyone who met her and made a huge impact on those who loved her already.

During the worst time of our lives, we had the honour of meeting some of the most incredible people. Our letter goes out to those who probably think they did nothing to help, but in fact are those who helped the most.”

——————————————————————————————————————–

Dear those who go {un}noticed,

To the midwife on duty the night Elsie was born. Thank you for cleaning me and helping me get dressed. Thank you for finding us another room where we couldn’t hear babies crying. Thank you for making us endless amounts of tea and toast, and not being upset when they were left untouched.

To the friend that was awake at 4am when I needed someone more than ever. Thank you for reading to my messages that probably made no sense. Thank you for staying awake with me. 

To the neo natal consultant that took care of Elsie. Thank you for doing everything you could for her. Thank you for sitting with us and explaining everything so we could (try to) understand. Thank you for being so helpful, considerate and such a lovely person. We trusted you from the minute we met you and knew you’d do everything you could for Elsie.

To the hospital vicar. Thank you for blessing Elsie. Thank you for calling her a queen, and treating her just the same as any other baby. Thank you for making us smile through our tears at one of our darkest times.

To the funeral home ladies. Thank you for letting us cry. Thank you for looking after Elsie as if she was your own, for bathing and dressing her too. Thank you for listening to every detail of what we wanted for our daughter, and making the day no one should ever have to do so much easier than we could have hoped for.

To the church vicar. Thank you for making time for us, and always remembering Elsie. Thank you for the most beautiful of services for our little lady, we are so grateful for this day.

To Elsie’s ‘nearly birth’ midwife. Thank you for taking control and making us feel safe that night. Thank you for coming back the following day, meeting Elsie and being there for us. Thank you for taking us under your wing, for giving us information, for helping us through the tough times, for allowing us to moan and to cry, and for loving Elsie nearly as much as we do. Thank you for totally “getting it”. Thank you for being our rock.

To the neo natal consultant at Elsie’s inquest. Thank you for asking her name. Thank you for continuously checking we were ok. Thank you for remembering us and Elsie, and thank you for trusting us to share your story too. 

To those that are there for us. Thank you for not being scared of, and also just knowing what to say. Thank you for distracting us when needed, but also knowing this is a daily struggle of ours that will never go away. Thank you for listening to us cry, laughing with us, letting us rant, and continuously checking in on us. Thank you for bringing us food, walking the dogs with us and most of all, talking about Elsie.

You may all feel your actions were not noticed, your words were not heard or “you were just doing your job”. To us, it was so much more than that. 

You all made the hardest of times, just that little bit easier. You took away a fraction of the pain. You held us when we needed it. And for that, we are eternally grateful. 

Our hearts are full of so much love for you all. Keep being amazing humans, the world needs more people like you.

Continue Reading
Letters To The Other Chair

Dear Ours…

In a world where 1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss and 1 in 8 couples experience fertility struggles, it still amazes me how little we speak of these things.  Behind each #TTC hashtag there is a person or couple trying desperately to start their much wanted family and the pain, love and hope you see in those squares is palpable.

Given it can be so hard to talk about these things openly, social media gives the gift of anonymity; the ability to find a community that will give you overwhelming support without needing to talk to those you don’t feel ready to.  There is work to do to help bring these conversations into our everyday language, but until then, it is incredible that people have a place to go and people to connect with.  We no longer have to feel alone and isolated.

@journeyto_our_dream is one of these wonderful accounts which documents a couple’s journey towards parenthood and this beautiful letter captures one stage of this.  

______________________________________________________________________________

Dear Ours,

I don’t know where to begin. We have been on such a tough journey and we haven’t even met or seen you yet! It has been three and half years, I don’t like to count but I cannot help it. It sounds so odd and wrong saying this but I cannot wait to feel you, just to know that you are tucked up in the little home that my magical body can create for you, for nine whole months. 

Continue Reading
Letters To The Other Chair

Dear NHS…

Dear NHS,

It’s not you, it’s me. Or at least I thought it was for a long time. The inability to get everything done within the working week; constantly worrying about the never shrinking to do list. I thought it was all about me and my failings – and given my vulnerability to feeling this way, I just worked harder. And harder. Until things changed. 

Major life events have a way of doing this to you. They tip everything on its head and force you re-evaluate. Becoming a parent, losing a child and parenting so soon after loss – they all made my skin paper thin. They left me feeling all the things that overworking had locked away. They helped me to see what I could and could not do. And more importantly they showed me that my well-being mattered too.

I love my career. It is something that defines me as a person.  In fact, I’ve dedicated so much of my life to training and working in psychology, that I don’t know who I am without it. The NHS has played the biggest part of this: almost fifteen and a half years, seven Mental Health Trusts, twelve placements / jobs all over the country and many, many clients. I’ve worked with adults, with children, in secure forensic wards and prison, in the community and in people’s homes. I started before the major salary restructures, before the recent years of austerity and I have seen services cut, cut and cut again, with staff being asked to do more and more with less. Or, worse still, learning to say no and close the doors to those who need it most.

Continue Reading
Letters To The Other Chair

To my boys…

I often wonder how I would have coped if I had needed to parent other children when Orla died.  How would I have managed my own grief alongside theirs?  How would I have explained what had happened to their sibling? Although it may sound strange, I sometimes feel lucky that I had the opportunity to completely immerse myself in those early weeks and months; with no one else depending on me, I had the freedom to just be with my grief.  Yet so many bereaved parents have other children to protect and support at a time when they too need the same.

 

In this letter to her sons, Lucie articulates her experiences beautifully.  I am sure that the intensity of love and protection in parenting after loss will resonate with many.

 

“I’m Lucie a nearly 40 year old mum of five.  Beau was our fourth child, our fourth boy and he was stillborn in June 2016. I pine for him every day and I don’t think that will ever change.
We had our rainbow, Seraphina Hope, our only daughter in August 2017. We call her our little heart healer as she’s helping to heal us all.

 

I’m married to my soulmate and we live a happy, simple but boring life surrounded by our family and friends.
Continue Reading

Letters To The Other Chair

Dear jealousy…

Jealousy is one of those things that we don’t want to admit to – not in it’s true sense anyway.  “So jealous!” might be something we exclaim in response to someone’s good fortune or exciting news, but how comfortable are we in really connecting with the real felt experience of jealousy?  Society encourages us to say that we are not a ‘jealous person’.  In many ways, it is demonised.  And yet jealousy is a normal emotion.  It is how we respond to and interact with that emotion that counts.

 

In this letter, Anna is compassionate towards her own experience of this emotion, but empowered to take back the control.  She says:

 

“I wrote this letter because jealousy has a horrible habit of creeping into the parts of life which should be the most joyful (baby announcements, family events, and holidays, to name a few). It’s not often spoken about, and is considered deeply unattractive, yet we all experience it and often suffer the effects in silence. 19 months after the death of my daughter, I needed to redress the balance.”

 

Anna is mummy of Amelia (in our hearts) and Beatrice (in our arms) and can be found on Instagram @love_from_mummy

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

Dear Jealousy,

 

A wise man once said:

 

“Comparison is the thief of joy” [Theodore Roosevelt]
Continue Reading