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Guest blogs

Continuing Bonds

I am relieved that ‘letting go’, ‘finding closure’ or ‘getting over’ your loss is no longer an expectation in the way that it once was. Bear this in mind if anyone (friend, acquaintance or therapist) tells you otherwise. I think ‘moving forward’ is healthy but ‘moving on’ probably isn’t. To me, moving on suggests we should leave our loved one behind and try not to think or talk about them. ‘Moving forward’ suggests taking them with us into the future, as does ‘move with’.

I won’t ever move on, let go, find closure or get over the loss of my son. I feel connected to him still and I expect to continue to feel that way forever. Although I feel part of me died when he died, I also strongly feel part of him lives on with the new me. The connection often seems tangible. Harry informs who I now am and how I live the rest of my life – and I like that. 

Apparently, our children literally live on in us. I was gladdened to discover that some of our children’s cells continue to live in us after they are born, particularly those from male foetuses. Mothers and foetuses exchange DNA and cells, and research has shown that some of these cells live in our blood and bones for decades. It’s called foetal microchimerism. As a bereaved mother, I find it incredibly comforting to know that our children live on in us – literally.

Continuing bonds can help us process our grief in a very healing way that potentially reduces some of the aching. Research has found that remaining connected to our loved ones seems to facilitate the ability of the bereaved to cope with loss and the subsequent changes to their lives. It was observed that healthy grieving did not resolve by detaching from the deceased, but instead by creating a new relationship with them. I like the view that your relationship is never over, simply changed. This makes perfect sense to me. I’m still Harry’s mum and I always will be. Continuing to think about him, to find ways to honour him, and even talk to him, feels right to me. I love remembering  how wonderful he was, and I like talking about him. This is, for me at least, an important part of coming to terms with his physical absence.

From Love Untethered: how to live when your child dies by Vanessa May

TCF publish a leaflet Remembering your child about continuing bonds and A handbook for remembering your child. 

Comments: 1 (Add)

Liz Jensen on 8 January 2024 at 18:56

Thank you for these words, which make such sense to me after my son’s death. The new relationship has been so crucial to my healing. And those cells? I feel them every day.

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