Three years on from Monty's stillbirth, I still go to Bristol SANDS. I look forward to the monthly bereavement support group meetings as an opportunity to devote a couple of hours to my son, to see new friends that I have made, and to share thoughts, feelings and experiences with other bereaved parents.
It can be emotionally tiring, opening up to new people but there is comfort in being surrounded by others who understand because they are travelling on a parallel journey.
It's the club I never wanted to join...
but now I'm a member, I don't want to leave.
This month, I shared the observation that I will be forever broken. It may sound dramatic but it is the truth. I am not the same person that I was before my son was born. I am somewhat healed but I am fundamentally and permanently changed by the experience.
The charity Mind includes bereavement in its A-Z of mental health. In my first year as a bereaved parent, I experienced several of the symptoms listed. A friend suggested counselling and I found that it really helped to talk to someone. But there is a legacy of bereavement - a feeling that something is still not quite right. And I have started to realise that this feeling is simply part of my 'new normal'. It is here to stay.
I found this thoughtful blogpost on Coffee and Crumbs, which gives a sensitive view on what to say to someone who is grieving. It's true that I grieve differently every single day. Some days are better than others.
My bereavement journey continues.