The picture is a photo of the heart we were given at Alder Hey hospital. You wouldn't know what it was for unless you'd been in a similar position to us. They give one to all parents whose children have had their ribs cracked open, which they did with Lauren when she underwent ECMO. I found it quite curious and slightly abstract at the time, but now I understand. Alder Hey know that parents want to feel part of the process, to felt heard and appreciated.
When I first came back from Alder Hey, without Lauren, I needed everyone to know exactly what had happened. I recounted in detail the events leading up to her hospitalisation, what treatment she had, even where we stayed as a family. It was important to me that my friends understood, I needed that empathic support.
I reality you don't need to know every aspect of someone's pain to be able to support them. I don't know what it is like to lose your child in a bomb blast, or to suicide, or, god helps us, because of mould in their home. That does not mean that I cannot feel their pain and understand their torment.
Like most things in life, once you have personal experience of it you notice it everywhere. As we approach the three year anniversary of Laurens death I am aware of so many other personal tragedies that have befallen friends, family, neighbour's, strangers that I began to feel that I had nothing left to say. When Lauren died it felt like I was the only person in the world who could feel this way, who had to deal with this pain, that is patently untrue. To realise that my story is not unique made me feel almost fraudulent, who am I to speak out when others go through much worse. But recently I have realised that is the point. There are so many people out their struggling with the pain that maybe by reading something from someone who lives the same life as them, they will be able to just feel a little hopeful for the future. I know when Lauren died I searched everywhere for stories of other families, what helped them, and found very little of comfort.
I definitely do not have all the answers, or even all the questions. Some days are good, some days are less so. However, I do know that we all need to feel we belong somewhere. That's what Alder Hey knew when they gave out the little wooden scarred hearts. It may not be where we want to be, but it's where we are, and sometimes belonging somewhere, even if it can be a little dark, is better than feeling like you belong nowhere at all.
“Numb the dark and you numb the light.” Brene Brown