A Day in the Life of a Grandma

I tried to bring myself to call your number, but I couldn’t. I re-read my story and got very emotional. I don’t think I can talk about it… still. Yet I would like others to read it, if you think it would help. If this in any way can be helpful to other bereaved grandparents, I want to share it.

blue baby booties in shadow

I recently pondered a few days about accepting the ‘A Day in the Life of a Grandma challenge’ on Facebook. To post a picture of my grandchildren every day for 10 days ‘without explanation’.

Today, there is an explanation. A day in the life of a Grandma? These 2 days I wish I never had, I wish we all never had.

Not the actual days in the photos, I cherish these, but the 2 days and the many days and weeks that came after, 7 and 9 years ago.

These are my grandsons. Born 2 years apart. Both cherished. Both beautiful, healthy babies. Both born to the same parents.

Both lost to SIDS. Both missed so much.

This is a Grandma challenge. So I’m compelled to share my own loss, as a Nanna. As a parent and grandparent this is a loss like no other.

There is no name for the parent of a deceased child. Nor that to describe a bereaved grandparent. There are widows, widowers, orphans, but none to identify us…...as if we are not supposed to recognise our loss… because it’s not to be spoken of.

The loss is sudden, shocking, devastating, unexplained. A brutal, intangible, angry agony. It grips and crushes your whole being in a vice of despair. Witnessing your son and partner break into pieces, their hearts ground into a pale bloodless pulp, whilst your own heart is torn to shreds.

Total helplessness and grief. Trying to support and comfort them and your other loved ones, whilst you struggle to even breathe yourself. Fearful of their ability to breathe themselves, to continue living beyond this hell.

For our family, not once, but twice.

To feel a kind of unwanted admiration as you see your son claw his way out of his own dark abyss, standing stooped, drained, vacant, almost, but finding deep within his own emptiness the love and strength to reach over the precipice and pull his remaining family out of that abyss to be with him. It’s a gladness I cannot begin to describe.

SIDS remains a terrifying potential threat in our modern society. Much has been, and continues to be done to raise awareness, to educate, to research. And vast leaps have and are being made.

But it still happens. And we still do not speak about it.

Often I remember. Often I want to comfort. To share. To speak of our loss. To be comforted. For my own loss to be recognised.

But mostly I do not. Afraid to remember, to remind. But the truth is we all do remember…and it’s such painful torment.

They did exist. They were loved, so so much.

I have had 3 grandchildren. I still have them. I have a beautiful granddaughter. Seeing her, holding her, laughing with her…..every single time the boys are there with her, in my thoughts, in my heart sharing her place there.

Whenever I see them - my son, his partner and my granddaughter - every single time, there is a vision of them all together… as they should be.

Would they like fishing, footie, grappling with their Poppy? Giving their Uncle’s cheek? Complain about Nanan’s whiskery chin when I smothered them in kisses? Oh how I wish.

Today I nominate all Grandparents to love and cherish your grandchildren. Take lots and lots of pictures. Bore your friends with them…..and post (with due caution) as many beautiful pictures as you want, with explanation!

Red Nose Grief and Loss services are here for anyone affected by the death of a baby or child. Call our 24/7 Support Line on 1300 308 307 or visit our Support Resource Library at rednosegriefandloss.org.au