Six years. 

Sharing this post from the child loss support group, In our hearts forever.

***
How far have I come? Sharing some lessons learnt.

Did I expect this six years ago? 6th July it had rained for the first time. Tejaswee had declared she loved the Delhi monsoons. A month later I was willing the universe to conspire to save her life.

Six years later now, in many ways, I live a ‘normal’ life, at least outwardly. When one has been where I have been, every achievement is a milestone; and things like laughter and joy are achievements beyond all expectations.

Three things that keep me going:

1. In our hearts forever : The Support Group for mothers coping with child loss.

The current mental peace and stability would not have been possible without the support from the moms in this group. We know what we are for each other. Nobody and nothing else can do what this group can, and does – for those who need such support.

2. Brat Three – Brat Three is twelve, and my height now; and regularly raids my wardrobe. 🙂 Her confidence and happiness are our pride, hope, and delight; and she knows it: This sentence in her school notebook had me tearing up: “I am the apple of my parents’ eyes.”

Introducing a new family member.

And I am still marveling at this love, and at the joy and the healing that this love has brought into our lives.

I am grateful. Grateful that all four of us wanted the same thing (this adoption).

Immensely grateful that we listened to the voice inside us.

The Voice

There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you–just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.

 

3. The Saturday hiking group I joined two years ago:

Every Saturday I wake up at 3 30 am to reach the starting point for the hike on the outskirts of the city; because the hike must end before the day gets too hot, we must start before sunrise.

What drags some of us out of our beds at such hours, while the rest of the world sleeps?

For me, the group was at first just a safe space for getting out of the house and experiencing nature. I would have been content to just walk in the wilderness; that was an achievement in itself; but the walks surprised me with unexpected bonuses: Laughter and Joy. (Also, new friends; and improved health).

This was like rediscovering oneself. It’s a passion I did not even know existed within me. The walks changed almost everything else.

Passions tend to engulf us (along with our pain) and I allowed myself to be totally taken over by the experience: I have run through the wild grass into the sunrise, climbed trees with ants crawling on them, splashed in pools, and felt the rain on my face.

Why have these walks been so life altering, …so healing? I guess what’s healing is the letting go, and the following of one’s spirit.

As we trekked each weekend braving the thorny branches of vilayati keekar, I learnt that there are many kinds of griefs, each very painful to the person experiencing it.

Over a period of time, I met other survivors.

Some of them casually mention the challenges they are coping with and in the beginning, I compared their pain to mine, but now I see that their pain is the worst they have known.

I have found empathy in unexpected places. I have learnt that I connect with, amongst other survivors: single mothers. Divorce is said to be comparable to death and is a traumatic experience, including blatant judgment from random people. The trauma remains unacknowledged: and then there is judgment instead of support. Having experienced it occasionally, and having been outraged by it, I can relate to this.

One walker I met (age, personal life no idea, no need to know) wanted to ‘experience life’ because he has been through hell and survived. And what has he survived? Believe it or not: Alcoholism. His struggle against something he doesn’t have control over, I would probably not have understood in my earlier life.

With this group, I feel I have come a long, long way. Shared passions build strong bonds. And yet. One casual question or remark can still become a trigger for me.

Recently the group celebrated their sixth anniversary. I had attended the celebration last year, so I knew that I would be able to attend this year too. And all was fine and fun until I heard the DJ ask – “Hey people the next one for the person you love the most!” No idea what the context was. Maybe he was just talking too much. Maybe I was overwhelmed anyway, just waiting for a trigger. But suddenly I became an outsider. Wished there was one person I could have looked at and seen them understand.
(This morning I am wondering if I was really the only one. How do I know nobody else struggled in their own way like I did? )

But here’s the thing. I could, with some effort, put the thought away and continue to act like I was not screaming inside; like I was not dying to join the one person who meant everything to me. And after some pretense, it became a fact. I started enjoying again. I could feel Tejaswee with me – with all her protective love, warmth, and positivity. And I was wearing a neckpiece that was hers. (Like some other moms in In Our Hearts Forever, I too always have something of hers with me).

I couldn’t have imagined this six years ago, or even two years ago. This mind-control is what coping with grief is all about, I feel. It’s an unimaginably painful journey, but know that there is hope – it does get better. You emerge so much stronger that you look at your own self in awe. I accept this with gratitude – maybe no power could prevent this pain – but if one is given so much pain then one should also be given the strength to deal with that pain. I am grateful to have reached this point.

Sharing this here to record my journey and to give those newer in this journey an idea of what they might expect in the coming years.

Some more thoughts from someone who has walked through grief and come out stronger –

1. Value your health. Everything else becomes tougher to cope with if health is also an issue.

2. If something gives you a moment of peace – don’t care what anybody says; listen to this guiding voice inside. Moments of joy lead to healing. Grab every bit of healing.

3. Avoid people or situations that trigger pain. Again, listen to this guiding voice inside. You won’t walk into a fire, think before you walk into pain.

4. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, be guided by yourself. I have been advised social work and shopping as alternatives to hiking – both are fine, but are not for me. There is no way I would have benefitted from these, the way I have from hiking, Brat Three, the Support Group, and this blog.

Note: Please email me if you know of someone who might want to join ‘In Our Hearts Forever’.

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In our hearts forever.

Finally, after four years of realising that such a group would be most helpful, I created a grief support group for mothers coping with child loss on Facebook in August 2014.

At first we interacted only on Facebook.

The first day, within hours of the group being formed, two of the mothers called to say they found the interactions overwhelming. I thought they weren’t sure they wanted to be a part of the group, and I did understand that each one of us may not find the same things helpful. But they said the sharing of experiences was cathartic for them.

One of the members’ family feared she might find the meetings depressing, another member was pressurised to go for a meeting. I believe there is only one way to truly know what would work for us.

This:

The Voice.
There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel that this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you – just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.

[Shared by Women’s Web on facebook, link]

Five of us who were in Delhi-NCR, met for the first time on the 30th of October. There was no plan, whoever was free managed to come.

We talked about what hurt and what helped. What we couldn’t understand and the questions that would never be answered. Those of us who had travelled longer on this journey talked about how we were now able to do things we never thought possible.

We also realised our journeys were a lot alike, (which was why knowing what to expect helped), and yet they were different. Which was why it was important that we choose our own paths.

This was around Diwali. As we were leaving, we were in the lift and one of the mothers said, “They are able to put up lights…! I too will be able to do that in five years.” 

One mother, let me call her SP, didn’t come. She said she got ready and got down the lift, reached the car and then sat there wondering what she was doing. She was sure it would be a mistake. She locked the car and went back home and sent a message that she would not be able to come.

We told her we would love it if she came for the next meeting, or the next. Whenever she was ready.

And she did come for the second meeting on 12th December. This meeting went on for over five hours, very positive, very warm and we parted on an unbelievably cheerful note – with many ideas and plans for future.

What made it even more special for me was that the next day was Saturday and two of the mothers, SP and AV agreed to come for the Saturday walk (more Hikes than walks) that I have been going for (with Let’s Walk Gurgaon – but more about these life altering walks in another post).

That warm Saturday morning I will always remember, and it turned out to be a beautiful trail.

The trail

I had never seen so many Pied Kingfishers at one place… Then, as we walked along the 9 km trail, AV said, “I see this as a new beginning for me, IHM.”

I knew what she meant, this was how I had felt when I went for the first walk in March 2014. What was so healing about these walks? That it was possible to be alone or to interact only as much as one wished to? The group’s willingness to walk as slow as their slowest walkers? The always knowing that there was support, in case one needed it? The beauty of the trails? Being with nature? Having to totally focus on the walk (from time to time)?

SP was the other mom who had agreed to come along. She said she had ankle and knee problems in both legs, and she wasn’t sure if she could even complete the walk. But she wanted to try and she did. Her legs hurt, but there were helping hands all along. She finished the trail, but would she ever come for these walks again? Only if she received the same kind of warmth and support she said 😀

Then some days later she called to ask how to save her pictures from the walk from facebook. “I am smiling so sweetly! I can’t believe I am smiling so sweetly! IHM you guys have changed my life in two days!”

She said her legs did hurt but not enough to prevent her from coming for future walks 🙂 Reminded me of how I had felt the first time. I had to take a paracetamol because of the muscle ache and slight fever from the unused to exercise. And I remember how the biggest concern was getting well enough for the next walk.

And that is how 2014 has been for me. Full of hope and healing.

This group is a closed group and only for mothers who have known child loss.

If you know of someone who has lost a child, please let them know about this safe and supportive space –  and let them decide if this is for them. One way would be to write this email [indianhomemaker@gmail.com] on a piece of paper but it would be  better to  message it to them (on their phone) so that it is not misplaced and whenever they are ready, they would have the option of joining.

Another way would to be to send a message on this page, https://www.facebook.com/IHM.Indianhomemaker

UPDATED: The group cannot be found by non members.

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