Thursday, 21 January 2016

Why I'm A Parent Supporter with Sands by Peter

I’ve never been a big talker. More often than not, I’ve not had the need to open up and spill the beans. I’ve got a pretty solid family network, and a great bunch of amazing friends.

After our baby died, I still wasn’t a big talker. I still haven’t really needed to open up and tell all and sundry about our loss. My family are still great and my friends are still awesome.

It took me many months, maybe even a year to kind of process what had happened. From that initial shock, to going into survival mode and trying to work and keep up the general challenge of living, it took me some time to acknowledge and start to understand that my boy had died. I knew it in my head, but the rest of me didn’t want to think about it.

My wife went to a few Sands meetings here in Brisbane, and I angrily went along to one. It wasn’t that I didn’t think or feel I needed support, it’s just I didn’t know how it would benefit me.

Similarly, my wife went to two ‘Walks to Remember’, and again, anxiously, I went to the third one with her.

What I found when I went to the Sands support meeting, and the Walk to Remember (I went to a few) is that I felt comforted. Comforted, that I wasn’t the only one who had this ‘silent pain’. To have a wound, with no visible scar. I was taken that these people spoke the same language as me. Mums, and dads. Aunties. Uncles. Grandparents. Siblings. This language was spoken with words, with actions, with a comforting hug that simply said ‘I understand’ and with silent speech where I understood every word.

I’m a parent supporter with Sands, because after ten years, I still value so much that there was a group that spoke the same language as my wife and I. That there is a group of ordinary, everyday people, brought together by tragedy, held together by kindness and supported with respect, listening and understanding.

I’m a parent supporter with Sands, because sadly, I know there will be more, many more families that will experience the tragic loss of miscarriage or infant death. I want them to know that their feelings of loss are real, their tears are validated and their words and silence, will be listened to.

I’m a parent supporter with Sands, because I know there are a stack of dads out there who have gone through a pregnancy with their partner, who have lost their baby, and who sometimes feel that they have lost themselves, and their partner too. I’m a parent supporter with Sands because I’ve walked that walk, of trying to balance the everyday, themselves, their partners, their family and the gaping hole in their life. I’m a parent supporter, because I know sometimes dads just need to shoot the breeze, ask a couple of questions and bounce ideas off each other. I’m a parent supporter, because dads need to know their experience, thoughts and feelings are real, they are important, and they have a very important story to tell, too.

I’m a parent supporter with Sands, because I know with time, support, lots of ups and lots of downs, you heal.

I know that the acute pain of loss does not last forever. I know that there’s light at the end of this very deep, very dark tunnel. I know that those who have gone through this have a new normal. A new normal where a pregnancy announcement of a friend brings up intense feelings. A new normal where the sound of a babies cry can feel like a punch to the throat. I also know that, with time, support and understanding that pain does fade. The wounds do heal. Those intense feelings fade, resurface, fade, recede and sometimes just bubble up a little.

I’m not a parent supporter because there’s anything glamorous or exciting about listening to a grieving parent talk about miscarriage or infant death. I’m a parent supporter, because I truly know that understanding, kindness, support and listening can be a key in pulling together, when everything has been torn apart. I’m a parent supporter, because I truly valued knowing there were others out there that spoke the same language as me, and they listened as I spoke it to them.

I’m a parent supporter, because I want families who have experienced miscarriage or infant death to know that they are not alone, that there will be a light at the end of this tunnel.  

I work 9 - 5 in the city. In my spare time I do a stack of freelance writing, try to spend as much time with my family and enjoy spending time in the garden. I have been a Parent Supporter with Sands since August 2015. Dad to Daniel, my first born who passed away, and Zoe (7) and Eli (5).
Click here to see Peter talk to Emma Alberici and Paul Kennedy about Sands and the Men's Helpline on ABC Breakfast TV.

If you require support after reading this blog please contact

Sands on 13 000 72637

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