If there’s one thing I hate, it’s asking for help from others. It could be as little as asking for a lift somewhere, or something as huge as asking for a babysitting favour, but either way I struggle with it, I always have. And in all honesty, I’m cringing a little at the thought of asking a favour of you all, however small that may be, and yet here I am, swallowing my pride, and doing exactly that.
Yesterday I was completely gobsmacked to discover that I have been shortlisted amongst the nominees for Best campaigner in the Mums Net blog awards, a category which for me is such a huge honour to have even been nominated for, let alone short listed. And I think that had it been any other category I would have done the very British thing of mumbling a few words of thanks to those who nominated me and apologising in advance for the fact that actually, I really don’t stand a chance. But for this award, to help raise awareness of stillbirth, miscarriage and neonatal death, and to honour the memory of our special little boy, I think that I owe it my best shot.
After Joseph died I struggled massively with the fact that we faced a future without him, with nothing more than a handful of memories to last us a lifetime. There would be no photo albums to pour over, no video footage to look back on, remembering the sound of his laughter, the lilt of his voice, the animated look across his beautiful little face. No stories to tell, memories to treasure, nothing tangible to hold on to other than a few grainy photos, a small lock of hair, the perfect little prints of his hands and his feet, and a box filled with cards expressing their utmost sympathy to my family and I.
And our grief was all consuming, the loss like nothing I can ever describe, but the hardest part for me was that after he was gone, there was very little left to say. There are only so many times that I can share the story of our joy throughout my pregnancy, tell the story of his birth, describe the moment that he was placed in my arms and how utterly beautiful he had been. There are only so many times I can share our memories of the day we said goodbye, those last precious kisses at the funeral home, the moment his coffin was lowered into the ground and he was gone. And that’s something I struggled with for such a long time, that as a Mummy, a proud Mummy at that, I still wanted to talk about him, to share those moments, to include him in our lives a decade later, and yet for others it felt as though the moment had passed.
So when I started my blog it initially came as a welcome relief to finally have somewhere to channel all of those thoughts and memories, to share his story with all of those willing to listen, to tell you how utterly wonderful he was, how very happy he made us, how we feel his absence every second of every day. It was a relief to be able to cast aside all of those taboos and talk about him freely, without fear of making others uncomfortable or feeling that it was something I should have to hide away. And for me, seeing the way in which so many of you lovely people welcomed my son, and my family, into your hearts, it reminded me that Joseph mattered, and in that way it was hugely therapeutic.
As my following began to grow, it became evident that my blog was the perfect opportunity to give back to the charities who had helped us through our darkest times, to raise awareness of SANDS, of stillbirth, miscarriage and neo natal death, and to help break down the taboos still surrounding those subjects. I won’t lie, there were times when I have sat here at my computer, breaking my heart over the memories of our son, sobbing into my keyboard as I re-lived some of our darkest times, opening up old wounds, baring my soul and wondering why I was putting myself through so much heartache?
And yet after Josephs story was shared in the local paper, followed by the national newspapers and even as far as Australia, I drew strength from the number of messages that found their way to my in-box, the parents who had taken the time to write and tell me that they too had lost a child, that our story had given them hope, that reading my blog had made them feel a little less lonely during the hardest times of their lives. I will always be grateful for the kindness of strangers who simply wrote to tell me that our story had touched them, to send their love and offer their support, even after all these years. I will never forget the support we received this July with Josephs “SANDS Summer Soiree”, the generous donations that so many of you made towards this worthwhile charity in his honour, and the over whelming number of people who turned up to celebrate his life, no matter how short, for the event itself. In that way, it spurs me on to keep sharing our story, to make my voice heard and to make sure that Josephs legacy lives on.
In describing the Best Campaigner category, Mums Net writes –
“These bloggers use their online voice to make a difference in the world – read and be inspired.”
And although I am merely short listed amongst a group of exceptionally talented bloggers, I am more than happy with that. To think that we have made a difference to the lives of others, a comfort to a parent missing their child or an inspiration to a family on the brink of giving up, that in itself pretty amazing. Even if I only ever get as far as this, this big thumbs up from my fellow bloggers, to have Josephs name heard, right across the globe, and to know that somebody somewhere has drawn strength from our story, I’ll take that and I’ll run with it.
For those who wish to, you can vote by clicking on the link below where you will find my blog, Five Little Doves, amongst eight very worthwhile nominees.
Thank you so much.