Life After Loss: Learning to Live Again

Losing a baby is devastating, and I will never try to tell you otherwise. It’s unfair, it’s heart breaking, and it’s completely life changing, and there are no word to truly describe how that feels. And in those early days when others try to rally around and support you, when they comfort you with kind words and gentle hugs, when they tell you that it will get easier in time, it’s impossible to ever imagine a time when it will.

Because I was just like you in those early days, when you’re simply existing from one moment to the next, when you’re head is spinning and your heart is aching, and your arms are longing for a little one to hold. I found it hard to even begin to imagine a time when it might not hurt to breathe, when I might wake in the morning without reeling from the shock at all we had lost, to get through a day without buckling from the weight of the burden of loss on my shoulders.

And so when others told me it would get easier, I didn’t believe them either, not even for one minute.

But it did, in time. 

Slowly but surely, without even realising it at first, you find that you can get out of bed in the morning, go about your day, make conversations and perform simple tasks, just holding it together, putting one foot in front of the other, surviving from one moment to the next.

And I guess that’s the thing about grief, that, sooner or later, even during the darkest times of our lives, our survival instinct will kick in and keep us afloat. Because in those moments, when your whole world has been turned upside down, it’s all about getting through the day by whatever means possible, even if that means shutting off our emotions, putting on our blinkers, and focusing purely on the goal.

And the goal is quite simply to survive. 

Weeks, months, or even years later, when you’re finally beginning to piece together the fragments in the aftermath of your loss, when you’re clawing back your life with every ounce of strength you can muster, when you feel as though you have finally mastered the art of survival, that’s when life will feel a little easier.

And perhaps, for a while, that will be enough. Perhaps you will find moments of peace amongst your sadness, days when you can laugh and smile and enjoy fleeting glimpses of hope amongst a sea of waves; perhaps you will tell yourself that this is as close to happiness as you’ll ever get, that treading water is still always preferable to drowning. But sooner or later, all in your own time, you will realise that there is more to life than surviving and the time has come to start living again.

And that’s when it’s going to get even harder. 

Because learning to live again means allowing yourself to open up to the outside world, to feel all of the emotions which you shut yourself off from, to embrace the possibility of heartbreak, the potential of losing someone you love, the risk of toppling the foundations you have worked so hard to rebuild. And it takes real strength to put down your shield and face that fact, that regardless of how much you fight it, and regardless of how much you wish it could be different, like it or not, this is your life now and there is nothing at all you can do to change it.

And honestly? Learning to live again, in a world you no longer recognise, without the child you had planned a future for, is the hardest challenge any of us will ever face, I’m certain. Learning to break out from behind your walls of self preservation is incredibly tough, learning to leave the house without that metaphorical blindfold is inexplicably hard, learning to be around friends, around family, around pregnant ladies and newborn babies, is always going to be agonisingly painful.

But as much as learning to live again is tough, it’s your only real hope of happiness. Because it is only when you are truly living your life that you will find you can finally breathe again, that the ache in your heart dulls, even if just a little, that you start to look forwards instead of back.

And I guess the hardest part of a life after loss is that there will always be days when it hurts far more than the last and it can leave you questioning if you will ever know true happiness again? There will always be moments when you focus on that pain more intensely, or when you allow your mind to wonder to the whys and the what ifs; there will always be moments when you would give everything just to go back in time and change the outcome, when you long for the child who should be right there by your side. But there will also be moments when you think of your child and your heart feels full, when you look back on those memories you made together and smile, when you feel an overwhelming sense of love and pride and complete and utter gratitude that they were yours, and you were theirs.

And sat here now, almost 13 years down the line, I want to tell you that although living without my child is the hardest challenge I have ever faced, and although my answer will change on any given day, right now, today, I can assure you that it does get easier. There are days when Joseph is no longer the first thought in my head each morning, nor the last thought I have each night. There are days when his loss no longer consumes my every waking moment, when the sound of his name no longer takes my breath away, when I can see the smiling faces of his peers without feeling crippled by anger and pain at all that we lost.

And that’s okay for me to admit. 

Because the truth is, when you are truly living your life, you live it right there in the moment. You wake up every single morning with your eyes, with your mind, and with your heart wide open. You see light instead of darkness, joy instead of sadness, and you see a future instead of the past. You live every moment to the fullest, take every opportunity with both hands, you love with your whole heart, and you accept that letting go doesn’t mean giving up, it just means accepting there are things that cannot be.

And I want to tell you that it’s okay for life to get easier. It’s okay to feel happy, to feel fulfilled, to feel complete. Learning to live your life again does not mean that you miss your baby any less or that they are forgotten, nor does it mean that you have left them behind. It simply means that you are doing everything in your power to carry them forward in everything you do, to find true happiness again as you deserve, and to live a wonderful life for the both of you.

And you will.

 

 

 

 

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59 Comments

  1. Helen
    February 12, 2019 / 8:09 pm

    This is so empowering for anyone who is experiencing such devestating heartbreak. It must be so reassuring for others to read that they can live in the moment again!

  2. February 12, 2019 / 8:40 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. It is reassuring on one level and not reassuring on another to know that if gets easier and I think you will understand what I mean by that. I know that learning to live again does not mean leaving Jessica behind and yet the thought of her not being my first and last thought of the day breaks my heart too. I know that it won’t mean that I love her any less any more that it means you love and miss Joseph any less. Thank you for sharing your journey so openly and honestly. Lots of love to you and your beautiful family xx

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      February 12, 2019 / 9:24 pm

      Ahh Louise, I know how scary that thought is. I think our biggest fear as Mummy’s to children we cannot hold is that their memory will slip away, or that we will move forward without them. There are good days and bad, and even now, 13 years on, there are days when he consumes my every thought. But there are also days when I can truly live in the moment, when I can hold a little hand in mine, and I can be happy, and hopeful, and grateful for all we had. It’s still such early days for you, and it’s a different journey for each of us, but I do hope that one day you will find happiness again with Jessica in your hearts, and all of ours too, always. Lots of love to you. xxxx

  3. February 12, 2019 / 9:31 pm

    I’m very sorry for your loss. I have had several miscarriages and still feel that loss. I’m thankful for the two children I have but still fear for their health and safety every day.

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      February 13, 2019 / 6:44 pm

      I;m so sorry for your losses Heather, I have a great deal of anxiety surrounding my children. I think sometimes it’s hard to believe we have ever been so lucky as to have four healthy children. I think that’s normal isn’t it? xx

  4. February 12, 2019 / 9:49 pm

    Oh my, this podt definitely hits me personally. Unfortunately, it is something I can relate to and your words resonate and empower. Thank you!

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      February 13, 2019 / 6:44 pm

      Thank you, I am so sorry that you can relate though. Much love to you. xx

  5. Megan Froemke
    February 12, 2019 / 9:58 pm

    I love the raw emotion in this blog post! I feel like you are sitting in the room with me offering advise.

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      February 13, 2019 / 6:43 pm

      Ahh thank you Megan, much appreciated. xx

  6. February 12, 2019 / 11:01 pm

    I am deeply saddened for your loss. It takes a strong person to share an experience such as this. Your post gives people hope. Truly inspirational.

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      February 13, 2019 / 6:43 pm

      Thank you Brianne. Much appreciated. xx

  7. February 12, 2019 / 11:18 pm

    Beautiful post and Im sure everyone can relate – especially after loosing a baby myself. It can feel extremely isolating and there needs to be more posts like this

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      February 13, 2019 / 6:43 pm

      Thank you Emma, and I am so sorry about your loss. xx

  8. February 13, 2019 / 7:01 am

    Time heals everything however the loss of a loved one takes time. This is truly inspiring… I lost my dad 6 months back and i know how it feels. It takes a lot of courage to share the experience. You are truly inspiring.

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      February 13, 2019 / 6:42 pm

      I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your dad Sania. Much love to you. xx

  9. February 13, 2019 / 7:32 am

    Written from the heart and it will help so many other going through or have been through the same devastating loss as you. I lost very early on and that was bad enough, I can not imagine the heart break this loss has caused xxxx

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      February 13, 2019 / 6:42 pm

      I’m so sorry for your loss too Sonia. I think whatever the loss, in whatever circumstances, it stays with you for always. xx

  10. February 13, 2019 / 9:21 am

    Thank you for sharing this with us. I can’t imagine what something like that is like to go through and I’m sorry you had to experience it. I hope with time that the heartbreak lessens.

    Ami xxx

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      February 13, 2019 / 6:41 pm

      Thank you Ami, I think things do get easier but it will always be hard. It’s so difficult to really explain. xx

  11. February 13, 2019 / 9:37 am

    Beautifully written as always. I know too well what it’s like trying to pick yourself back up and carry on when inside you’re broken and not quite sure what life even means any more. But it does get easier. x

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      February 13, 2019 / 6:41 pm

      Thank you Fran. I’m so sad that you know how that feels too. Lots of love to you always. xx

  12. February 13, 2019 / 10:24 am

    It is one of the hardest things to ever go through, I always say it does get easier and you do start to get over it but you will never forget x

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      February 13, 2019 / 6:40 pm

      Absolutely, and moving on doesn’t mean forgetting, it just means taking them with you. xx

  13. February 13, 2019 / 11:54 am

    very very powerful words laura – my losses are different to yours but it is true that it does become easier. I am a different person now – that’s ok too. Much love Bec xx

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      February 13, 2019 / 6:40 pm

      Thank you Bec. I’m so sorry for your losses, I think regardless of the loss, it changes us for always. xx

  14. February 13, 2019 / 1:07 pm

    What a powerful post for anyone who has had a similar experience to you Laura – beautiful words as always.

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      February 13, 2019 / 6:39 pm

      Thank you Talya xx

  15. February 13, 2019 / 2:58 pm

    You are so brave and your words are incredibly powerful. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing story, I know you will change the lives of others that have gone through a similar situation. We are never in this alone. Stay strong.

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      February 13, 2019 / 6:39 pm

      Thank you Heather, much appreciated. xx

  16. Geraline Batarra
    February 13, 2019 / 3:31 pm

    I couldn really imagine your grief.. Whether it is your baby,sister, brother, dad, mom or grandparents.. It’s really a tough part knowing you won’t be with them anymore, for good..

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      February 13, 2019 / 6:38 pm

      Absolutely, it’s so hard to accept but so important that we find a way to do just that. xx

  17. February 13, 2019 / 4:37 pm

    It is so true. You somehow just keep going and eventually you can life your life and be happy again and it is ok.

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      February 13, 2019 / 6:38 pm

      You do, because there is no other option is there? xx

  18. Cindy Gordon
    February 13, 2019 / 7:31 pm

    Loss is no easy task to hurdle. It’s not that you ever get over the loss either, you just learn how to cope with how much it hurts.

  19. February 13, 2019 / 8:55 pm

    This will help so many people who are going through a loss. Knowing that it’s ok and it will get easier

  20. February 13, 2019 / 9:13 pm

    You are such an inspiration lovely helping others through their journey. Loosing a loved one of any description is hard, for it to be a child must be devasting. But knowing it’s okay to move forward and by sharing your experience must be a comfort to others xx

  21. Rachel Jones-Wild
    February 13, 2019 / 9:21 pm

    I lost a baby two weeks ago and it was the most devastating experience of my life. Your post is very brave and it gives me hope. I know I will carry this forever and I hope it will become easier in time.

  22. February 13, 2019 / 9:35 pm

    That made my knees go all wibberly wobbly. You really are so strong Laura, and your words are going to reach out and cradle a parent in need, when they need comfort and truth. You are always such an inspiration. xxx

  23. Alexandra Cook
    February 13, 2019 / 10:25 pm

    Losing someone is one of the hardest things any of us will go through. Each loss has its own impact and can take time to get through.

  24. February 13, 2019 / 10:36 pm

    Thank you for sharing this, it cut very deep. I have never been pregnant so I cannot imagine what it feels like to loose a child but the emotions conveyed in this post were raw, and real. I hope this post helps others to learn to live <3

  25. February 13, 2019 / 10:39 pm

    This is such a hard topic and I am glad that you are talking about it. I didn’t realised how common the loss of a child was until I volunteered my photography services to an organisation that deals with still birth. It is for sure one of the hardest jobs I have done.

  26. February 14, 2019 / 1:50 am

    This kind of pain is one I can’t fathom. Your journey is inspiring and gives hope to parents that go through losing a child. I believe that there is no greater pain on the earth.

  27. February 14, 2019 / 3:53 am

    Losing someone no matter how close they are to you hurts. It sounds like you went through a lot – I’m glad that the future is looking brighter

  28. Anchored Mommy
    February 14, 2019 / 4:08 am

    I am so sorry for your loss and thank you for sharing your story and vulnerability which I’m sure brings comfort to others going through this heartbreak

  29. February 14, 2019 / 6:24 am

    What a beautiful way to express your grief, while helping others realize that their sadness is okay. I’m glad things have gotten better for you, and I hope that this post can be inspiration to others who are in the beginning stages of their mourning.

  30. Katrina Ellen
    February 14, 2019 / 12:04 pm

    Loss can be so very tough. It definitely seems like your life would be at a stand still sometimes. This is such a great reminder of how to move on slowly.

  31. February 14, 2019 / 1:16 pm

    Wow. I so want to commend you on the vulnerability and beauty of this post. You are helping so many by sharing your story. I am pregnant with our first kiddo (due in 10-weeks) and, after experiencing a miscarriage with our first pregnanct, I am consumed with worry some days that something might happen to this one. It’s an experience that no one can really relate to unless they’ve been through it themselves and nobody openly talks about these types of experiences. So THANK YOU for sharing your story and allowing other women to feel comfortable sharing theirs.

  32. February 14, 2019 / 5:08 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss, nothing can explain or justify the loss of a baby. But you survived and you’re being such an inspiration to all of us here. Thank you.

    Chad
    http://www.mosaicslab.com

  33. February 14, 2019 / 5:09 pm

    Thank you for sharing this, I can’t imagine what that feels like, but I am so sorry for your loss. You are very strong and brave, I am sure a lot of people can resonate with this and it will give them a little hope. Knowing that it gets easier with time.

  34. February 14, 2019 / 5:46 pm

    I’m sorry that anyone has to ever go through that heart ache. I’ve never gone through that tragedy and I could never imagine how that feels.I pray that everyday you women and your significant others find more peace and understanding and that loss won’t hurt so much one day.

  35. February 14, 2019 / 6:37 pm

    I couldn’t ever imagine the pain you go through losing a child but know people who have and they are some of the bravest I know

  36. February 14, 2019 / 10:20 pm

    Such powerful words Laura that I’m sure will bring some comfort to those going through the loss of a child and the grief that comes will it. I can’t imagine what’s it’s like but admire you for sharing your story to help others going through the same experience to know, in time, things will get a little better x

  37. February 15, 2019 / 1:47 am

    This is really heartbreak. Losing someone is really hard it’s hard to moving on and accept but this story gives a lot of empowering and encouragement. Everything has a reason don’t lose hope. I’ m so sorry for your baby lost :(.

  38. February 15, 2019 / 2:27 am

    That is the thing about grief; when you first experience loss, you never feel like it will get better. Eventually, it does, though a part of that pain will always be there. It’s okay to feel that loss and pain because it’s what makes us human.

  39. February 15, 2019 / 7:19 am

    Thank you for sharing such a powerful message of hope. Life can be bleak sometimes and when you most need a guide, a shining light saves you. Your story helps me at a difficult time in my life, my mom has terminal cancer. I keep wondering what it will be like when she is gone. Though it worries me still, your story has put me more at ease. I will always remember her, and it is better to live each day while cherishing the moment of the present.

  40. February 15, 2019 / 9:39 am

    This is such a heartfelt and beautifully written post Laura, thank you so much for sharing! I can’t imagine the pain and hurt you went through but I do know that your blog and your words will and have helped so many others who have been in your position!

  41. February 15, 2019 / 1:41 pm

    What beautiful and inspired words to help someone which such a gut wrenching loss! Bless you and your family.

  42. February 16, 2019 / 11:23 am

    Gosh what an honest, emotional and brave post to write. I am sure this will reach out to many experiencing loss and heart break.

  43. February 17, 2019 / 5:38 pm

    I have lost my father not so long ago and I can really say that it is difficult to move on. But, we have to. Thank you for this blog. I have found comfort in it.

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