I’ve been asked recently where I see my life going from here … I’ve been asked how I’m going to move forward and how I intend on dealing with the death of my son. What many people do not understand is that the way in which I ‘cope’ with losing Otis can not be planned. I could not tell you how I will feel in an hour, let alone tomorrow or in the weeks, months and years to come. My emotions vary so much every single hour of every single day. For most of my daytime hours I’m on a level ground because I HAVE to be. People around me see it as ‘strength’, I see it as ‘autopilot’ to get me through the day.
I’m ‘lucky’ … I fucking hate that word.
I’m lucky because I have an AMAZING support system. I don’t only have my family and close friends; I have a support network of people from around the world who check in on me daily, who help guide me. I have around the clock support. I know I can call someone at 2/3/4am and they will pick up the phone. I know I can ask someone to come round during the night and they will. I know I can spend days at my dad’s house if I don’t want to be at home alone with the twins. I also know that not many people in my situation can say that. I know MANY people have to deal with this alone, or with a very select few people around them. I know this because, for some reason, a lot of people in that position trust me to turn to me. Most, if not all, of these people have NEVER met me before … But they know that they can turn to me. I like that.
One of the things I find most therapeutic and most helpful in coping with Otis’ death is helping other people. I often find myself thinking about what I can do to help other mummies, daddies and children on their journey of grief. I feel like if I focus my attention on their grief, then it’ll help me deal with my own. Up to now, it seems to be working. It doesn’t take the attention away from my healing but it definitely helps me cope.
Since Otis passed away, I have noticed that, while there are plenty of support groups and such for bereaved parents, there isn’t much support in our local area for the siblings of deceased children. After speaking with our hospital’s bereavement midwife, Louise, and the trustee of a well established and government registered charity (‘Our Angels’), I decided that I needed to somehow help bridge that gap … ‘Otis and Friends’ is a newly-established charity which aims to provide a support network for bereaved children who have suffered the loss of a sibling. Our application to achieve government registered status is pending.
I’m hoping through setting up this charity that it will offer a safe haven for children who feel like they’re alone. I hope that it will allow children who are overcoming similar obstacles to come together and form friendships. I hope that days out and trips away will offer respite to children who desperately need the time out. I hope that therapy sessions – be it art therapy, counselling or even just ‘friendship’ therapy – will help children on their journey of grieving for their sibling.
This next chapter in my life would not be happening had it not been for Otis blessing our lives with his existence. I know that absolutely nothing I do is going to bring my little boy back to life. I know it doesn’t matter how many tears I cry, how many times I beg and plead, how many sleepless nights I have, how many meals I miss out on because I simply cannot eat, or how much guilt and anger I feel; my little boy is dead – he is NEVER coming home.
The least I can do for him is to ensure that his memory does not die with him. Otis fought so, SO hard to make it Earth side. He did for a reason and I wholeheartedly believe that.
I recently came in to contact with a man called Chris (not Otis’ dad, obviously) … He has been my rock over the last couple of weeks. Those who know me know that I’m not a very emotional person when it comes to people close to me. I struggle to talk about how I feel (you probably wouldn’t believe that reading my blog). I don’t like being touched. It’s like I have an aversion to people being nice to me. I don’t know why – I’ve always been that way. Chris, his wife Briony, his friend Emma and their support group have opened up their arms wide and (metaphorically, because I won’t let them touch me) welcomed me in to their world. They have allowed me to become involved in their charity work and in their support meetings at Our Angels … It’s a safe haven for me. They don’t live locally; they don’t know people that I know. I like that. I feel like I can express myself more with them because of that. I spent the evening with them a few days ago and I LAUGHED without it being forced for the first time since Otis passed away. I cannot begin to explain how amazing that felt – despite how guilty I felt at the same time for even being able to laugh.
One thing I learned by meeting up with Chris, Briony, Emma and co. is that I am doing okay. I learned that how I feel is totally fine and is totally NORMAL (though I knew that already, it just reminded me). I learned that I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE and that matters! It doesn’t matter how many people surround me, there are days when I feel completely alone. I learned that I am doing the BEST I possibly can to keep my little boy’s memory alive. I also learned that it is okay NOT to be okay (something I tell people all the time, but seem to ‘forget’ myself).
I cannot thank them enough for allowing me in to their circle. I cannot thank them enough for allowing me to become a part of their lives. I already know, after meeting them just the once face to face, that I have gained some AMAZING friends; lifelong friends.
One major thing I learned through hearing some of their stories is that my ideology of my life events being defined in to two time periods – ‘before’ and ‘after’ Otis is completely logical.
Before Otis I wasn’t sure about what I wanted to do with my life. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to be a teacher or whether I wanted to become a practising psychologist. I wasn’t sure which path I wanted to take. I was completely ‘stuck in a rut’ and doing the same things day in, day out. Now, I know. Otis’ existence has encouraged me to do a bit of ‘soul searching’ I guess; and has allowed me to see what I really should be doing. Though I fully intend on carrying on building a stable career for my girls, I know I HAVE to live for Otis on the side of that.
Before Otis I was a very happy-go-lucky person. Before Otis I was the ‘confident’ and loud friend that everyone was always telling to shut up. Before Otis I was more forgiving and more tolerable of people’s bullshit. Before Otis I thought I was a strong person. Before Otis I was laid back and calm. After Otis I am reserved in group settings. After Otis I cannot tolerate people as easily as I used to. After Otis I have realised that I don’t NEED to be strong all the time and I do have weak moments – I’m not as strong as I once was. After Otis I find myself getting easily irritated.
After Otis, I experience emotion on a completely different level. I have been taken to the most painful depths of my being. I have experienced sadness, loss, anger and guilt on a level I cannot begin to describe. Because of that, I experience JOY and LOVE on a level I cannot begin to describe, too. I love harder. I love easier. Little things that I wouldn’t have paid attention to before now make me happy.
It has been 10 weeks since Otis was born in to Heaven. It has been 10 weeks since he gained his angel wings.
I know with every breath I take, I am also taking one for my son. I know that every time I do something in his honour, I’m living for him. He is living through me. I am seriously so honoured to have carried this little boy and I NEED to ensure his tiny feet leave the biggest footprints on the world.