Each year as our angelversary approaches, I am reminded about the unpredictability of grief. Most of the year I find myself busy with life, work and family, but then there is a point a few weeks before when I become acutely aware it is that time of the year again. No matter how hard I try to focus on everything else, I can’t stop this indescribable pain for the little person who is missing at our dinner table, or was meant to start school this year, or would have been doing a million other cheeky things by now, or was meant to be……
It is often said that the 1st year after someone has died is the hardest, but no matter if it is the 1st year, 5th year or 20th year, I think that day in the calendar where our babies have died will forever remain a day that has a new meaning, a meaning that for some will feel bittersweet as we remember that moment when we met and said goodbye to our precious child. A day that the rest of the world will continue if everything is just a normal day, but perhaps for us is a day where we need to stop, even just for a few moments to take a breathe and honour the rollercoaster ride we have been on until now.
As you come to this angelversary you might find yourself faced with a new pregnancy, or perhaps your rainbow baby has already arrived filling your heart with such joy, and so it can sometimes be a really confusing time in working out how we cope with the grief, whilst being so thankful for the other things that are now in our life. You might even be at a stage in the pregnancy similar to the time your baby died, or perhaps have a child now the age your baby died and may also be experiencing elements of fear and anxiety in addition to the grief, and so it can be understandable if you find the thought of this too hard to deal with, and choose to hide away from the world for a little while until this date passes.
No matter where you find yourself on this day, I want to encourage you to make space and time, and most importantly give yourself permission to grieve. Whether we have many hands now to hold and to love, or if you are still yearning for that precious baby in your arms to take home, you may find that as you approach each angelversary there are new layers of grief to tend to, and so be gentle on yourself.
Each of us will approach this day differently, and I want to acknowledge that from year to year the intensity of this day may change for a range of different reasons, and so it is important for you to work out what you need to help you through. Some people find it helps to acknowledge their baby by having a birthday cake and candle for the age the baby would be now, or to visit a special place or gravesite, lighting a candle, donating to a charity in remembrance of their child, or to take a day off to look after yourself and nurture your mind, body and soul.
Whatever you do for your next angelversary, I encourage you to give yourself the time and space you need to make this a meaningful part of your healing journey.