The other day I saw this image on the Facebook wall of a post-traumatic stress disorder support group and it got me thinking and realising that instinctively, I have created in time a coping bereavement box for us, as a bereaved family.
Things in our virtual box have changed as our grief continues to evolve and integrate into the fabric of our lives.
In the first year after Georgie died, we had a memory box downstairs with memorabilia people had so kindly given us in his memory: little glass dragonflies, sympathy cards, wee trinkets from the hospital, some of his name tags from when he was born, flower seeds…
Emma was allowed to open it every time she needed to and add things into it so after a while, it did over spill with angel drawings and scribbles, notes she wanted to send to her wee brother in heaven.
We had also a memory wall which I had put together and which brought me (but not Alex) great comfort. One day, in a fit of rage, he pulled it all down as the reminders were all too visual and painful to him.
This Christmas, most of the memory wall art (which had been residing after the rage episode on top of our bedroom wardrobe) and almost all of the beautiful contents in Georgie’s drawer went into a box and were carefully and lovingly stored up in the attic.
This was in no shape or form an act of removing our departed son from our lives, far from it. It was more an act of compartmentalisation of memories and painful reminders.
But we have kept a number of items out and about, which continue to bring us comfort, in a soothing and calm manner.
I have written before about what Emma calls “Georgie bear”, a little teddy, the one in the picture above, which has a tiny picture of baby George on it.
I ordered it for her last autumn, when she went through a rough and angry patch in her grieving journey and needed tactile comforters.
In December, the lovely people from Snap Fish, from which I had initially ordered the teddy, offered me the chance to review their personalised sofa cushions. I decided to use the opportunity and make two huggable Georgie cushions which have been great to look at and hug tight when we had felt the need to.
I chose images of “happier” times, before Georgie’s diagnosis and they have helped reverse some of the trauma and pain of losing him so cruelly to a time when all was well with our world.
I have not used the idea of the personalised photo cushion to pretend things didn’t happen but I have tried (as some grief psychology books advise) to replace the traumatic images in our psyche with some of the happier ones we have of Georgie.
Loss and the emotions that follow are some of the most difficult feelings a human being will have to confront and learn to live with.
We have made room in our hearts and in our home for a little boy when we first found out I was expecting a second time.
The fact that he is no longer with us does not remove him from our hearts, nor deletes his physical presence from our home, conversations and lives.
We are learning to live with it and are using physical reminders, music and gentle essential oils to recreate his presence with us.
If you read this article as a bereaved parent, I hope the infographic at the start and all the tips I included will give you inspiration in how to integrate the presence of a departed loved one in your life and home.
“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” ― Kathryn Stockett,
You can survive this, my friend!