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Guest blogs

Getting good (better) at feeling bad

Ruth McDonald writes...

If you have recently lost your darling precious child - this is for you…

My heart breaks every time I hear about a new family starting out on this horrific journey - too many broken shattered hearts struggling to believe the unbelievable!

Before my son died I hardly used social media… now I’m a member of four very different bereaved parents Facebook groups - which quite frankly have been my lifeline. I don’t know how I would have survived without the care and support of virtual friends carrying their own torturous pain.

Without fear of judgement we dump a minefield of confused complicated thoughts on strangers knitted together by tragedy; each using brokenness to comfort the broken.

And every time a new parent joins we instinctively reach out. We feel their pain and desperation. There is no fixing… so we don’t try. But we listen. We empathise. We give advice (when asked). We share experiences and tell them to take a minute at a time; to cry, scream, rant, to talk about their darling child.

I’ve heard newly bereaved parents being described as ‘doing really well’ and it makes me cringe. Once you have had to kiss the lifeless face of your darling precious child… you cannot be doing really well. Comparisons and assumptions like that do little more than add another layer of guilt to our already complex grief. There is simply no right or wrong way to do this. And what is visible on the outside probably bears little resemblance to the agony on the inside.

So I’ve written a blog for newly bereaved parents because I was that mum not so long ago. I’ve tried to write what I needed to read because it helps to know how others are living this same kind of loss. I’m so grateful to those who inspired me to keep going - when I thought I couldn’t!

This is an overview of almost five years of pain, sadness and love - words barely scratch the surface of a heartache that has no words. It’s taken weeks and been a struggle to write as I look back and wonder how we’ve got this far. I share extracts from some of my early journals - comparing then to now.

Whatever people might say - time is not a great healer and I wouldn’t describe myself as doing really well… but there must be strength in pain because somehow I’m still here - and I’m surviving!

So if you’re hanging on by a thread or you know someone who is - this might help (a little).

Read Ruth's blog here...

Getting good (better) at feeling bad…

Comments: 4 (Add)

Chris Read on 11 July 2023 at 20:57

Just read your article in the summer 2023 TCF Compassion magazine. The words you have written are exactly what I could have written. Thank you!
My son Michael died suddenly in October 2021 and although the shock and numbness have received, I am desperately sad, angry and broken inside, although have learned to hide it most of the time. The one paragraph that really resonated with me is that if I look happy, people will think I'm ok. Although I know that moving forward and making the best of the rest of my life is the right thing to do but I also feel that I want to continue to suffer and I don't want to forgive the rest of the world for what has happened. I know this is wrong but it's difficult because anything else feels like I've got over it or have let my son go. It is also what friends, family and colleagues want to see to make it easier for them, which makes it even harder for me.

Andrea on 14 May 2023 at 16:14

Thank you so much for writing this. I'm sorry for your loss. I lost my son aged 33 2 months ago, he died from cardiac arrest. Its exactly how I'm feeling, completely heartbroken hardly functioning. People telling me to move on arent helping, so thank you xx

Brenda Culver on 8 May 2023 at 22:05

My 25yr old daughter died suddenly on May 31, 2022 also from SADS. She was also completely fit with health issues. She had a normal EKG the year before. She had no symptoms, just collapsed and died.
You are the first person I've known of that this happened to.
While I'm thankful that she didn't go thru an illness or some other mental or physical pain, the complete shock makes it so hard to wrap my head around.
Literally one minute she was fine and the next she was gone.
I miss her more than words.
Thank you for your blog

Rita Cassidy on 7 May 2023 at 15:23

I just read your blog and a lot of what you wrote describes me. My daughter Katrina died suddenly on the 26th of May 2022 at 39. As her first anniversary looms I feel physically sick. Thank you for sharing as I thought some of my feelings were wrong especially my anger towards God. Outwardly I am functioning but inside a part of me died as I rushed to her home that morning. I was too late to hold her and say goodbye and the guilt was overwhelming. Like yourself I thought what did I miss? Why her? I have created a wee memory room so that I can sit and meditate, cry or chat. My other 5 children are a great support and blessing.. Hugs to you and your family and may your beloved son soar high.

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