Acceptance is often confused with the notion of being “all right” or “OK” with what has happened. This is not the case. Most people don’t ever feel OK or all right about the loss of a loved one. This stage is about accepting the reality that our loved one is physically gone and recognizing that this new reality is the permanent reality. We will never like this reality or make it OK, but eventually we accept it. We learn to live with it. It is the new norm with which we must learn to live. We must try to live now in a world where our loved one is missing. In resisting this new norm, at first many people want to maintain life as it was before a loved one died. In time, through bits and pieces of acceptance, however, we see that we cannot maintain the past intact. It has been forever changed and we must readjust. We must learn to reorganize roles, re-assign them to others or take them on ourselves.
Finding acceptance may be just having more good days than bad ones. As we begin to live again and enjoy our life, we often feel that in doing so, we are betraying our loved one. We can never replace what has been lost, but we can make new connections, new meaningful relationships, new inter-dependencies. Instead of denying our feelings, we listen to our needs; we move, we change, we grow, we evolve. We may start to reach out to others and become involved in their lives. We invest in our friendships and in our relationship with ourselves. We begin to live again, but we cannot do so until we have given grief its time.
Taken from the 5 Stages of Grief (Kubler-Ross)
So this is where I am in my "journey" right now. I hate what has happened and it still makes me very sad, but I have "accepted" this as a reality now, and that it is something that will never change.
I have accepted that in the past four months since losing Harry I have experienced all the stages of grief, at many levels, but I have now accepted that my Harry has gone. And that what I need to do now, and try to make my life better and the lives of my family, and also for Harry to not have died in vain, and to have a great deal of good come out of his very short life.
As most of you know, Harry's Trust has been my lifeline. Working on the many events we have held or have coming up, has kept my mind busy and focussed and all the while raising lots of money to help other families in our situation. I have now set up a group, that I am liaising with the hospital about, to support local mothers who lose their babies. I found it very hard to discover that 5 - 10 babies die each year in Exeter's neonatal ward, and found myself asking how on earth I came to be part of that very small number. Anyway, I want to be there to help other mother's on the ward at this crucial time, but after the Saying Goodbye service, I also want to support those suffering stillbirths and miscarriages, as, when all is said and done, we have all lost a child, that was so wanted and so loved. No matter what stage in our journey, we have all felt that sadness. I have enrolled myself on a counselling course so that I might be able to support others encountering a sad stage in their life, and also a reiki course to allow me to "heal" those people who need healing.
So, yes, my life has changed dramatically. I have changed. I think I am more confident, more able to talk about things I wouldn't have usually wanted to discuss openly, I am stronger and I feel more focussed. All that being said, I have to remember that not everyone else is at the same stage in their journey in their loss of Harry. For example, my Mum was shocked when I told her I thought I had now accepted what had happened, she felt a long way off. She always tells me how I have changed since losing Harry and that she believes I can now achieve anything I set my mind to. I hope that she can now see that she too can do whatever she choses, and can feel that Harry has given her that inner strength and that she should believe in herself a bit more. Harry's Dad also said he doesn't feel close to accepting what has happened, as he feels there are still a lot of unanwered questions. Whilst I agree, a lot remains "open", while we await the report from the hospital investigation, I don't think that should prevent your own personal journey. I will feel a variety of emotions when I read that report, however the report is not going to ever change what happened to our little boy, and probably isn't going to change much for our lives - but hopefully will change a lot for the lives of other people dealing with that hospital, as they will take a lot of learning points from our case.
I still feel the sadness though, and as today marks four months on from the day that Harry was bought into the world for his short stay with us, it has been another hard day. It has been a day of reflecting on the past four months, and reliving that fateful day. But now I can accept what happened - I am unable to change what happened to us, or to Harry, and while that saddens me, it is the reality and of course I miss him terribly, but now we have to look to the future, and try and improve experiences for parents going forward and focus on making our lives stronger and happier.