Joy and Grief: It doesn’t need to be one or the other.

Sometimes pain and grief feels so big that you can’t even fathom feeling joy again, but if you are in an earlier phase of your loss journey or even if you’re not (there’s no time limit on grief), I promise you that you can, and sometimes that joy may also come with other complicated feelings.
This coming Thursday 29th September marks 7 years since our son Jenson was born and died. If that is not an analogy for duality, I don’t know what is.
I have been pondering a lot about loss and grief these last few weeks. If you already follow me on social media you may have sensed a change in the energy of my posts.
However, I feel, I am sharing the message I have all along, that there is no joy without sadness and no sadness without joy. We must make space for it all. We wouldn’t know one without the other.
I haven’t talked about this topic much on here, but I feel it is time because I hear of so many parents who have endured loss and particularly mums suffering from feelings of guilt and shame around feeling happiness and joy after the death of their babies. 
I suspect it is because of the lack of experiences and lived moments with our babies that we try to hold on that much tighter and the guilt of moving forward can feel painful. At least this is very much how I felt in the early parts of my journey and sometimes I still feel this pang of guilt.
However, like all loss, it is okay to feel sad and for us to sit with the grief because I believe it is an expression of the vast love we have for our babies or loved ones.
I also urge you to be kind and gentle with yourself if you are experiencing similar feelings, whether having experienced a stillbirth, miscarriage, neonatal death, child loss or the death of a loved one and I want to remind you that you finding some semblance of joy DOES not mean that you are forgetting them or that you no longer have immense amounts of love for them.
Every year, we celebrate on Jenson’s birthday to make up for the experiences he didn’t get to live and sometimes that also comes with feelings of disappointment around the pressure to create the perfect day, but either way I know that I am choosing to create moments with my family as though he were still here with us. It’s never perfect, but we make the most of each moment as best we can.
Last year we took a drive to the Barossa Valley for the day and we couldn’t find anywhere to stop for lunch because nowhere felt ‘right’. I instantly felt sad and disheartened because I had put so much pressure on the day being perfect, but then I realised none of it really mattered.
All that matters is our love that is ever continuing and vast!
I don’t expect everyone to feel this way, especially if your grief and loss is fresh and raw and that is okay.
Your grief won’t just magically disappear, but it changes with time and you make space for it alongside the joyful moments.
Our beautiful baby Jenson
Elijah and Mum