A Day That Holds its Breath

There’s a particular date in November that I dread every year and if you’ve ever suffered a significant loss or gone through a traumatic experience, you’ll understand why.  It’s a date that you don’t want to recognise, an anniversary that you certainly won’t celebrate and a marker in time that doesn’t deserve the description of special or meaningful because you would rather that the event it marks had never happened at all.  For me it was the loss of my son.

But it’s a date that can’t be skipped over so each year I’m left wondering how to get through it.  Should I try to ignore it and go to work as if it was any other day?  Should I stay at home and hide under the duvet?  Should I find a way to commemorate my son’s life and if so, should it be subtle or something on a grander scale?  There is no correct answer other than doing whatever suits me and my daughter best and that can change from year to year.  I’ve deliberately avoided starting a tradition that risks being broken one year and I try not to worry about what other people might think, I’m pretty sure the only person judging me is myself.  Why add to the pressure of what is already an tough day?

It’s strange to think that this one particular date once meant nothing to me.  I could have flicked through a calendar and not even paused on that day of that month but now I don’t even need to check the diary to know that date is approaching.  My mood changes and I can almost feel myself tensing up.

I try to rationalise my feelings by telling myself it won’t be as bad as I think.  I’ve survived enough of these anniversaries to know that more often than not the build-up is far worse than the day itself and yet it still fills me with dread.  The problem is that I can remember so clearly that pain I felt all of those years ago; I live with echoes of it every day; and I’m scared it might suddenly resurface.  And it’s true to say that occasionally my grief does catch me out, just not necessarily on that day or with any kind of warning at all.  But even though my grief doesn’t observe dates on a calendar, I’m afraid I do.  And that’s why one day every year when I wake up I can sense the day holding its breath until the sun goes down with a sigh of relief.

9 thoughts on “A Day That Holds its Breath

  1. Dear Amanda,
    This is such a moving post. When you lose someone you love so much it not only takes your breath away it pierces your heart. Something inside you shuts down as you near the date even if you’re so busy the days are a blur. I think its instinctive because the sorrow runs so deep inside. Grief will catch you whatever the hour. Survive the day in your own way and as best you can. Be kind to yourself. Thinking of you and your daughter. May all your days be full of love, laughter and compassion from those that know you and of you. Much love and hugs, Carla x

  2. So very true. I related to everything you wrote. I remember writing in my journal after our son died that I would forever hate March 3rd. You’re right – it used to be just an ordinary day on the calendar that held no greater significance than any other ordinary day. Now, I feel the dread building as the day approaches. It’s not conscious; rather, it’s like my am subconsciously hyper-aware of the approaching day. I’ve learned to recognize the tension and restlessness, and try to find ways to diffuse those feelings. Thank you for sharing your life and thoughts in such an eloquent way.

  3. ahhh Mandy, that moved me so much as I have a couple of dates like that now. I know its not the same as losing a child but that feeling is there for me and as much as I try to get into Christmas, its always there in the back of my mind xx love to you and your Jessica xx

  4. When my foster daughter left to return to her biological parents (after 2 1/2 years), the loss was unbearable for so very long. There could be no contact, as mandated by the judge. It was like a death for me. But yours was real, and permanent. I cannot begin to imagine the pain and heartache you still feel. So hard to keep going on, but you must. Your daughter needs you.
    Jean Callahan Scarcella

    • Hi Jean

      Your experience came with its own kind of heartaches and it takes a brave person to foster, so well done you. Thank you for your kind thoughts.

      Amanda x

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