Loss of a child — the forbidden subject!
It has been three and half years since my daughter passed away. She was 6 years old. In the years following her death, on top of the (obvious) pain I have been living with, I have also come to realise that the subject of my child — be it her life or her death — is a very taboo subject indeed. With people who knew her, or those who didn’t, reactions are almost always awkward and uncomfortable. Understandably so. Of course this topic is an extremely sad one. Unimaginable. Who can bear to think of how painful it must be to outlive their child? Even the idea of it is heart-breaking. Fact. However, in an age where awareness is being sought for so many different things, where topics that were once almost forbidden are now being discussed openly, I can’t help but feel that it is time that bereaved parents should also have a voice.
Now, I am fully aware that I am only one person and I have no right or power to speak on behalf of all bereaved parents. What I am discussing here are my own personal thoughts and feelings. So, here I go…
My child was here. She did exist. She had a name, a face, a personality. She was, and still is, my daughter and I was, and still am, her mum. I know you get that — it goes without saying. But do you understand that I need her to not only be remembered but to be talked about, freely without ‘fear’. Say my daughter’s name — KADER. Ask me about her. What she liked; what she disliked; how she reacted to things. Okay, so in my case, my girl was extremely disabled and so there were a lot of things she couldn’t do or understand. You can ask me about that, too. I want it known, remembered and never forgotten that I am a mum. A proud one. The way you discuss your child, I want to discuss mine.
As I said earlier, I can’t nor am I trying to be anyone else’s ‘voice’. However, I have read comments and posts by so many other bereaved parents that read ‘say my child’s name’. Yes, we want our kids to be remembered and to continue existing even though they are no longer physically with us. I don’t statistically know how many of us there are in the world. What I do know is that there are a LOT of us. Mums and dads that have buried their child(ren). Whether our child(ren) died in an accident, whether they were murdered, whether they died suddenly or after years of illness; some were babies, some were teenagers, some were adults — we all have one thing in common — we belong to a ‘club’ that no one would ever choose to become a member of. We are labelled. We are ‘bereaved parents’. Yet, we are parents nonetheless and we are here — talk to us! Ask us questions about our kids’ lives and even their deaths. Will it bring tears to our eyes? Quite possibly. Will it remind us and break our hearts? Of course not! There isn’t a second that goes by where we forget that our child has died! Our hearts will never be unbroken! The knowledge, the pain, the fact is with us every second of every day — whether we are locked away crying our eyes out; at the cinema with our friends; on a date night with our partners; even when we are laughing and having fun.. we know. It’s there, always.
Of course, there are those of us who don’t want to talk about it. There are many different types of people full stop. Some like to talk about things — problems, events, personal lives — and some don’t. I can tell you that I have always been one to talk about things openly, as I am sure you have figured out by now! I also know that if someone doesn’t want to discuss something, whatever it is, they will just say so. It is not any different when the subject is our lost children. Fair enough?
So please, say her name; say his name; say their names. Tell us something you remember. Ask us what you have forgotten. Discuss the things you want to know about our children but may have felt before now would be too upsetting for us to talk about. On my behalf, I promise I will always welcome the subject of my daughter with gratitude and a smile.
SM 13 July 2017