Birth after Loss ….
I took me four years to realise that I had not grieved my father’s death. “Don’t make big life decisions after trauma” is what the famous “THEY” say… I clearly didn’t get the memo. Soon after my father was taken (yes often than not I blame the big man upstairs), I got married and had a baby, a beautiful little girl. Ariella Petra
What I didn’t see coming was the harsh reality of emotional turmoil between mourning a death and celebrating a life. My heart string reduced to brittle ashes and with the slightest shift from happy tears to gut wrenching sobs, either one would feel like the final take.
Of all the rush of emotions I was told I was going to experience when I had my baby, the one they forgot to mention, is the jolt of immortality. This sucker comes rushing at you like a derailed train and to fuel my fear, I had no family here in the UK, no childhood friends or siblings with babies close by. Instead I had what felt like endless hours of midnight breastfeeding and sleep deprivation that only MI5 assassins are equipped to beat… Until, of course, she smiled and my brittle heart strings melted in an abyss of love and warmth. I’m so grateful for those moments, for every smile and gurgle I got better at dealing with death and breastfeeding. It was in those darkest moments when Hotmilk was born. No more endless rabbit holes of “how to” Googleing. I wanted to talk about it with real parents – preferably with alive and kicking ones. And since my father was no longer answering me, it was time to chat about the naked truths of parenting with other moms and dads.
While I have you here chatting about parenting truths and death…lets talk about death. Memento Mori – literal meaning: never forget death.
I have thought about tattooing this on my hand. Not because I want to indulge in the constant drone of sadness but in fact the opposite. I often find myself scrambling to find heartfelt but real and raw ways to explain death to my now 4 year old who wants to know who her Grand dad is. I do know this, we don’t talk enough about death. I plan to open the dialogue with her; it’s a conversation that will be constant and ever evolving as we age together. Death influences how we live and how we live can influence how we die, yet I don’t feel like I talk about it enough, not with my loved ones or my friends.
I know my father and I only chatted once before he passed. He mentioned in passing that he wanted to be cremated. That moment while sitting in the funeral parlour and being asked how I would like to put my father to rest (well quite frankly I don’t WANT to you idiot), the weight of having to make the decision on my own without really knowing what he wanted, was devastatingly overwhelming. A decision I still question today and have no option but to live with.
I never want my daughter to experience the same dread and wonder. So let me be clear. I want to be cremated and with the gentle breeze of the Greek Mediterranean ocean, let me loose. Plant an olive tree, lemon tree or Jasmine tree anywhere close to Ariella, so she can sit, soak up the perfumes that surround her …and talk to me. I’m listening, I’m right here baby girl.
Shall we talk about death?