There are so many things that took me by surprise about grieving… the main one being that it is not all about being horrendously sad. Of course that is a big part of the process and it is the part that doesn’t really change that much but it isn’t the only bit.
The most surprising thing that I found after losing Eilys was the urge to be better, to do better and to make everything I did count. And it really was an urge and it was nearly immediate. When we started to sort out and tidy Eilys’ things, not clothing and toys but her medical equipment and her specialised milk etc. It felt so wrong to be wasteful and just throw it all away. We spoke to the homecare nursing team and they just said to take it all to the pharmacy for disposal or that they could do it for us… Such a waste! Eilys wouldn’t have wanted it all to be thrown away! After a little bit of searching we found an aid company in Leicester called Intercare who could use medical items for aid work in Africa so we boxed it all up and gave it to Joe’s Mum to drop it off for us. They couldn’t take the milk or the drugs we had left over. Some of the milk went to the local animal rescue centre, some of it went to a friend who’s child had the same milk and the rest unfortunately went in the bin. The drugs were taken to the pharmacy for disposal which really annoyed me as they were all unopened, with seals attached etc and I understand why but still it seems really wasteful. All the left over regular baby milk, baby food, nappies and wipes were given to the local food bank. It really helped us to do these things for so many reasons. It gave me something to do and kept me busy and afterwards it made me proud that yet again, Eilys had made a difference to somebody else’s life.
Personally I feel the urge to do things that make a difference and to help people. I am not sure that I am doing the right things or that I am really making much difference but I am trying. As a family we have raised a lot of money for a couple of charities (mostly ACT for SMA and Chidlren’s Adventure Farm). I am a big fan of doing wacky things for charity but it is all in Eilys’ name and in her memory which makes me and our family so happy. We have done the colour run for Eilys, I traveled to Alton in Hampshire on public transport wearing a wedding dress (plus veil) for Eilys, I wrote a recipe book (a few are still available) for Eilys, on what should have been her second and third birthday we had a hugely sucessful “Wear Purple for Eilys” Day and selling the Snowdrops for Eilys pins that I designed… I am sure that I come across as a bit of a loon or really annoying that I am always asking for my friends and family to cough up money all the time. I guienuely don’t want anyone to ever feel like they have to do any of these things, or that they need to buy a thing but it is something that I have to do. But huge thank you for all the support that I get anyway and I am sorry if you get annoyed with it. I know I can be a charity bore.
I also felt the unbelievable urge to better myself, like I need to make my life matter more because hers was cut short. I have done a a few courses in counselling now (at a local college, which I mainly used a way of getting counselling on my very odd terms) and now I am doing a proper course in it and training to be a hynotherapist at the same time. A huge part of me really wants to give back and help people in the same or similar situations. I feel really passionate about sibling support as the support we were offered for Dylan was so lacking… ok, there wasn’t any… And I am also doing a breastfeeding mother support course too because I have learnt a lot on my boobing journey and want to pass it on a little and I don’t like the thought of anyone feeling like I did at parts of that journey.
The other surpising thing about grief is how it has aged Eilys in my head. I think things like “I need to make her proud” or like I said in this blog earlier “she would want [her medical supplies to be binned]” both of which aren’t really emotions or feelings that a 1 year old is capable of. It seems to be quite a common thing within the child loss community that we project older thoughts and feelings onto the lost child like not wanting to let them down, or wanting to make them proud or trying to be better as a person. I am sure that all Eilys would want from me is that I was there for cuddles, there to fulfil her needs and just to be there. So projecting these thoughts and feelins on to her is a bit of an odd thing to do, I guess. I think it is probably a way of letting her grow up a little in my head.
Oh fuck, I miss her so much. And now I am tearing up in Costa. Grief really does just creep in when you are not expecting it.
Thanks for reading