No one ever thinks that they’d ever belong to the infant/child loss club and no one ever wants to be part of it and I wish I didn’t belong to it – but unfortunately I do. Although Jacob wasn’t technical at the age of an infant or child when he passed, he was still my child. A wife who loses her husband is called a widow. A husband who loses his wife is called a widower. A child who loses his parents is called an orphan. There is no word for a parent who loses a child, because there are no words that describes the raw, emotional pain of grief and loss you feel.
No one knows how they are going to handle the grief of losing a child. I’m not sure if I’m doing it right – if there is a wrong or right way. But I just know it’s right way for me. It is as individual as DNA and a thumbprint. Unique to that person. I don’t like bursting into tears while I’m shopping as I come across one of his favourite things to eat or when a particular song comes on the radio. I don’t want to cry in front of others making them think I can’t handle it all. But I have a right to shed tears because it hurts, and they usually come when I’m driving in the car by myself. I feel guilty when I cry and I also feel guilty when I don’t at the times when you start to enjoy the moments of happiness. Why should I have moments of happiness when his life was cut short? Because he would want me to be happy and live my life. He wouldn’t want me to be sad for him 24/7 and he wants us to live our lives to the fullest in honour of him. Making him proud as we muddle through. I don’t want to replay the last month of his life as his disease took over his once athletic strong 6ft 2inc frame – that’s the hard part. These sad memories always come before the good old days of when we were a family of 6. I always start thinking ‘I didn’t do enough to seek a second opinion to get him cured – the what-if’s start to fester. But I have to stop the mind ticking over the negative stuff as nothing will bring him back.
“Grief is like the ocean; it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” Lucky I can swim, pulling myself through the water with over arm movements and gentle kicks. But you can’t keep the swim up for too long, you get too tired, too heavy, it’s then that I give in and float on my back, bobbing up and down like a buoy that guides the boats in to the harbour in all sorts of seas. I chose to describe my grief in relation to the ocean because that’s where we scattered some of Jacob’s ashes. He’s a part of Hawaiian and Australian waters in his true form of the Pisces fish that he is. I feel drawn to be part of the ocean, particularly snorkelling. I look for him in the all the beautiful colours of the sea, in the fish, the sparkles on the top of a smooth horizon, the coral, the shells, the letters of his name I make out in smelly seaweed. ‘Life is like the ocean. It can be calm or still, and rough and rigid, light and dark, but in the end, it is always beautiful. I used this photo when completing ‘illuminate’ – Beryl Ayn Young’s online course, lighting the path to photographic healing and I thought that this photo would suit this passage of writing. These two photographs side by side capture the light and dark of the ocean. Just like in grief we deal with the light and dark. ‘We’ve all got both light and dark inside of us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are’ – Sirius Black. I choose ‘light.’ And just just Dory said in ‘Finding Nemo’ – just keep swimming, just keep swimming – in the beautiful ‘light’ blue waters and I will find you.