Our dear friend and neighbour asked me the other day if they could use last year’s #judedays post card this year since they didn’t travel last year.
(The #judedays postcard is just one of the many ways that we have found to help mend our hearts in our healing journey after loosing our son Jude. If you search the hashtag #judedays, you’ll find countless pics of travel destinations that our little boy has been remembered at through the support of family and friends.)
“Of course” I answered. He looked at me, smiled uncomfortably and said ” I wasn’t sure what the protocol was”.
“There’s no protocol” I answered.
I later pondered on the question and realized that what most people around you don’t realize is that much like a new parent who doesn’t receive a manual with their newborn; bereaved parents also don’t receive a manual on how to mend their hearts and their lives back together. There’s no protocol on how to heal your heart after you loose your child. As a bereaved parent (like most parents with living children I suppose); we just make it up as we go along.
Along the journey, we find ways to tend to the holes and tears in our hearts. We find healing ways to bring comfort to and make our hearts happy again. In our journey, we’ve been fortunate to have the unconditional love and support of family, friends and neighbours that allow us the space to indulge in the ways that enable our healing journey. I specifically use the word indulge, because I have come to learn that in this community of bereaved parents, we are a few of the lucky ones that have a strong network of support.
By having the space to indulge in what heals our hearts, we are able to puzzle back together the pieces of our old selves and discover how the pieces of our new selves all fit together.
The protocol is this – do what makes your heart happy.
If speaking your child(ren)’s name(s) freely and frequently with anyone who will listen makes your heart happy – do.
If visiting the resting place of your child(ren) everyday or not at all makes your heart happy – do.
If honouring your child(ren) through the permanent marking of a tattoo on your body so that you can physically see your child(ren) everyday makes your heart happy – do.
If dressing, cuddling or carrying a bear brings comfort to your empty arms and keeps you sane while making your heart happy – do.
If pouring your heart out through writing on paper privately or digitally shared makes your heart happy -do.
If tending to your child(ren)’s garden or hand cutting the grass at their resting place makes your heart happy – do.
Do it all.
In this healing journey there are no rules, there are no guidelines, there are no rights or wrongs. There is no protocol. There is only you, your child(ren) and the void in your heart. So go for it! Tend to the void in any and which way makes sense to you. Trust me – there’s nothing worse than what you’ve already endured that can happen.