Loss – it’s all around us, all the time. Nobody is unaffected and everybody’s response is different. Some deaths are sad but expected, and some knock the air right out of you.
The words ‘orphan’ and ‘widow’ exist because these are deaths that happen in the normal course of life. Parents die; husbands die. But there’s no word for a parent who’s lost a child, perhaps because saying it, giving it a name, is too hard to bear. The loss of a child rocks you to your core. It is more loss than you can describe or ever anticipate.
I am not a stranger to grief, loss and heartache. My mom died when I was eight; my dad and stepmom divorced when I was 18; I had cancer twice in my twenties; then I was told I was infertile and would never be able to have my own biological children. These things developed my resilience and shaped my approach to life. But the death of two of our children – the miracle children that doctors told me could never happen – is beyond any sadness I’ve ever known.
Not even four months after being told I was infertile, I fell pregnant with our first child, Murray. We believed that we wouldn’t have any more children, but seven months after Murray was born, I fell pregnant again with our daughter, Isabella. On 15 September 2015, our beautiful daughter, seven and a half months old, died when she asphyxiated on her vomit in her cot. And nine months later, on 4 May 2016, our son Thomas was born prematurely at 26 weeks and three days. He lived for just a few hours.
The loss of our babies has forever changed who I am