1. Things really do get easier. I know it’s a cliché, and definitely one I wouldn’t have believed if you have said it to me after our son died almost three years ago. When I look back over my earlier writing about Teddy compared to my writing now, even I can sense the weight of that grief lifting. Whether it’s because we become more expert at wearing grief, or because it actually lessens over time; I’m not entirely sure? The words on the page don’t feel so raw when I write them now, and it doesn’t sting so much when I see those two words together “Teddy died”. Of course, that sadness is there every day, but time has definitely softened the crippling emptiness I felt in those early days.
2. Happiness will creep back in. Don’t get me wrong, this takes time and willingness to let it do so. There were days when I was convinced I would never feel truly happy again. That I was destined to spend the rest of my days without ever really feeling that familiar rush of true happiness as I laughed out loud with friends and family. That every smile would be forced and faked through gritted teeth and under a blanket of overwhelming sadness. That just isn’t true. The more I wrote about Teddy and shared my experience of his birth and death, the more I noticed happier days creeping in. More jokes made their way into my writing, and well, I even dared to feel true happiness again (on more than one occasion I might add?!). A huge part of my writing has become giving that hope of happiness returning to others, the ones who are where I was three years ago, who feel like it might never happen again.
3. A problem shared really is a problem halved. I didn’t begin writing my blog until nine months after Teddy died; I simply couldn’t get the thoughts and feelings straight in my mind before then, let alone in an orderly fashion on a page. I shook with nerves before I pressed “publish” on my first post about losing him. I wondered whether anyone would read, or whether anyone else felt the same? The truth is, I shouldn’t have worried about anything. As the weeks, months and now over two years have rolled on since I first began writing, I have been able to connect with so many parents whose narrative of parenthood is similar to ours. I will never tire of people sharing their stories, their children and their incredible human spirit with me; it is both an honour and a privilege to be able to share this with so many other people.
4. The ripples of grief spread so much further than we could imagine. My first thoughts when Teddy died were for myself and my husband; how would we carry on? How could this happen to us? The more I have written about our grief and that of those close to us, the more I have come to appreciate just how far reaching those ripples of grief are to those around us. I think especially when that loss is of a baby or a child; it shocks us all to our core and defies what many of us see as the natural order. So many of the kind people who take the time to write to me or comment on my blogs aren’t bereaved parents themselves; but grandparents, siblings, friends, work colleagues, or even people who have just that day been chatting to someone for the first time and learned that they have lost a child. That shock and grief, it affects us all differently, and we all need time and space to be able to talk about it.
5. It’s good to talk. I was so scared to talk about Teddy at first; so worried that I might upset someone else, or ruin their day when they innocently asked me “So, do you have any children?” Carrying that fear and guilt around with you can become really exhausting. When I began writing, not only did I find it really cathartic, but I found that the ripples slowly went out further than I could have imagined. People began contacting me and saying that they had felt more empowered to say their baby’s name out loud too, or to get involved with local fundraising or support projects for others. I soon realised that in ripping off that plaster myself and not being afraid to talk about Teddy, I was in-turn doing that for others too; and that was a very powerful thing indeed.
About Elle Wright
Elle Wright is a wife, mother, award-winning blogger and author of The Sunday Times Bestselling book “Ask Me His Name”. After the death of her son, Teddy, at three days old, Elle started writing to navigate her new life and as a way to feel purpose again. Her Feathering The Empty Nest blog is a way of finding light in darkness, positivity in times of desperation and, hopefully, making a few people laugh along the way.
Elle was the 2018 recipient of the Mum's Voice Award from Tommy's, the baby charity, which celebrates one mum who has spoken out about her own pregnancy experience and given hope to others. She continues to raise funds for Tommy’s and her own fundraising project “Teddy’s Legacy” with her book, blog and Instagram.