A Therapist’s Experience of Losing a Daughter
As a social work therapist, I have spent the past decade supporting people through trauma, tragedy and all forms of challenge and change. But in 2014, I experienced first hand what it takes to survive the unthinkable.
My daughter Nora suddenly and unexpectedly passed away when she was one day old.
She simply stopped breathing in my arms.
At first, my pregnancy had been normal and healthy. There were no forewarnings or indications that anything was wrong. After all, I had every piece of her nursery and our home ready and waiting for our new life together. But just like getting struck by lightning, I suddenly found myself amongst a small percentage of rare and unusual stories. Everything I felt that was solid and certain in my life smashed into a million pieces in a single moment.
No Therapist Training Could Have Prepared Me
Later I remember someone saying to me in the early days of my grief “You might have an easier time getting through this because this is the work that you do.” I remember being aware of the good intentions behind their words at the time. Yet I also thought it was absolutely ludicrous to assume my position as a therapist somehow trained me to deal with the death of my daughter. In no way did I feel equipped to deal with this.
However, in hindsight I realized there were in fact some truth in what this person had said. My work taught me several important things over the years. I am very grateful, because I believe it helped me work my way out of the darkness of loss.
One of those things was this: I knew for a fact that this experience will change me. I saw enough as a therapist to know. There’s no way to come out the other side of something like this unaltered.
So I was very acutely aware that I was now standing at a crossroads. Either I could become bitter, hardened and spend the rest of my life feeling like a victim, or I could grow. I could expand. Find a way to come out the other side of this as a stronger, better version of myself.
I chose the later. Firmly, I believe this will always be a work in progress. There is no final point of arrival.
I also knew I needed to fully commit myself to the goal of surviving. That there’s a very real risk that I could be swept away completely by the ocean of despair that I been dropped into.
And I knew I needed to fight my way through for one very specific reason. Moreover, if I crumbled and self-destructed- that would be the story told about my little girl. Later, in hushed tones within my circle of friends and family, she would be referred to as the reason why her mother was now a mess. So I refused to let that to become her legacy.
The Love and Loss Project
After her death, I began various projects. I started fundraising for maternity organizations. Then I delivered care packs to bereaved moms in hospitals. Compelled, I needed to share her love and light in some way. But I also knew I needed to offer something more concrete. To fill the gaps in the services and support systems which I participated in. So I created the Love & Loss Project, an online comfort and inspiration station. Here, as a therapist, I share tools, strategies and support for bereaved families.
I will always be Nora’s mother. To honor her, I am dedicated to living my life as brightly as possible, my little bright-eyed girl.
That is what I believe she would want for me.
That is what I wanted for her.
So I aim to live my life with as much purpose, passion, joy and adventure as I possible. In doing so, I help others to do the same. This is how I am refusing to let my daughter’s life end as a tragedy. Instead, I am turning her brief and beautiful life story into a love story.
Thank you for being a part of that with me, here.
April Boyd, MSM http://www.lovelossproject.com
For More information on April’s Love and Loss Project, please check out her youtube video.
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