I’m not sure why we were discussing funerals. I was a teenager standing on the stairs in our family home and my nan was fixing me with a stubborn glare that the women in our family have inherited and the men in our family know all too well.
“I don’t want anyone turning up at my funeral wearing black,” my nan told me, “It’s too depressing. I don’t want any of you lot being depressed when it’s my turn.”
“Shall I come in fluorescents?”
“If you want,” she smiled, “Just no black. And no crying either. I don’t want anyone mourning me. I’ve had a good life.”
“You’re so demanding!” I laughed before telling her that if I passed away before she did, then I must insist she turn up at my funeral in fancy dress . . . .
All of these years later and she got her wish. On the 3rd October, I attended my nan’s funeral not wearing fluorescent as I’d threatened, but instead wearing a green dress – her favourite colour. My mum, whose mental strength never fails to amaze me, delivered the service and it was beautiful. My nan never liked a fuss, but she would have loved every moment.
I wasn’t sure how I would feel being back in the same crematorium where we held Evalyn’s funeral less than a year ago. Sometimes it’s easier not to go back in your mind too much to your darkest days, but to actually find myself walking back down a memory lane I’ve been trying to avoid was something I didn’t feel mentally prepared for.
I sat feeling guilty that throughout my nan’s service, my mind kept wandering to Evalyn. I looked out of the window to the same view I’d focused so hard on during Evalyn’s service in a bid to stop my tears. The little table where her wicker casket had so delicately been placed now had a bouquet of flowers and a little teddy bear waiting to be put on top of my nan’s coffin. I’m sure my nan would’ve completely understood my wandering train of thought, but on a day that was meant to be completely hers, my mind made her share it with her Great Grand-daughter. . .
Because everything comes back to Evalyn.
I think it’s fair to say that Autumn is slowly breaking me down. I knew it was coming. It’s hard to be slowly approaching Evalyn’s first birthday whilst constantly being reminded of what should have been. I often wonder how I’ve actually made it through this year at all. Stillbirth strips you bare in a way I never thought possible. You can’t hide a stillbirth. The world was expecting you to bring a baby home and when you don’t, your pain is completely exposed for everyone to see whether you want it to be or not.
I used my pain to talk about Evalyn and how the loss of a baby can affect a parent’s life. And nearly a year on, I am still being affected by the loss of Evalyn as if it were yesterday. A year on I am still missing her. I still long for her. I still cry for her and I still don’t understand why she’s not here.
I’m sure that some people must be thinking ‘But it’s nearly been a year now. Time to move on.’. But you don’t move on. You find new ways to live and try out different techniques to keep you breathing. But you realise you can still laugh even though it may sound a bit foreign to you. And you realise that the end of your child’s life doesn’t have to be the end of yours.
But right now, it’s hard. The past weeks have been a bit of a tidal wave of loss, Evalyn reminders and knowing November is on the horizon along with the birthday that she should have had but never will.
I was reminded at my nan’s funeral of her life mantra. No matter what happened, no matter what struggles we faced as a family or she had faced by herself throughout her life, she always said the same thing.
“That’s life,” she would say with a shrug, “You just have to get on with it.”
And even though it hurts, she’s right. . . .