#BLAW2019 – Sick but well, work to be done

There’s going to be lots of this. Just yesterday, I wrote about the incredibly mixed and ambiguous feelings around #BabyLossAwarenessWeek. I took part in a #BabyLossHour discussion on the same topic and spoke with other bereaved parents wrestling with the same dilemma.

This has been my rallying cry but with all that’s happening I’m starting to question the unintended implications. If it’s a duty to make it less shitty and I choose not to do something am I failing others when they are in need?

This of course an invitation to the part of the map marked ‘gully of guilt’ and it’s not helpful thinking for me or anyone. As a reminder:

It took a beautiful, insightful comment from my friend’s mum to arrest my unhelpful feeling before I start to spiral.

“There are times when we all need to take ‘time out’ and give ourselves space for the grief, and anger, and the aches…

I note that BLA week is focussing this year on problems of ongoing provision of adequate mental health support among the bereaved.

Fatigue is real and needs to be recognised and addressed. It is not wrong, and not selfish, for you to say “Right now, I can do this, and no more” – it is an honest acknowledgement of your humanity.

And ‘putting on a brave face’ and keeping on regardless is no help to you, to those you love OR to others in a similar position .

You are absolutely right to step back. In November the sky will be bright with fireworks, in December, Christmas Magic and Sparkle everywhere. But right now, do just what feels right, and allow the quiet moments of reflection and remembering.

This, at first, broke me a little but then has had the effect of energising me, reminding me why it’s important. I’ve been speaking with friends and comrades in the depths of their despair and misery and they have been asking for help, desperately so and they have not been getting it. They’re falling between the cracks and are torn between the fear of being left there or resigned to their fate.

All of this raises difficult questions that one awareness week or World Mental Health Day can’t solve alone. How can we improve access to care for those teetering on the brink and those already falling? What role can peer support play and what are its limits? How effective is it at support and and what point can it become unintentionally harmful? These are wider issues than the scope of pregnancy and baby loss but there are elements of this loss that make it difficult to access help leading to disenfranchised grief.

I don’t know what the answers are but I know part of it involves greater collaboration between our services and suicide prevention charities. Awareness weeks can open up difficult conversations but we need to keep them going until they no longer are difficult.

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