It’s been a little quieter over here since Norah’s birthday. Within our family, most of our key occasions fall in the period of June-July, and whilst the date of this post is insignificant, it feels like a good time to start to get back into the normal rhythms of life. Our time since Norah’s birthday and the anniversary of her death has felt like a new no mans land of grief, life, love and loss. Those in the grief community will know that we talk a lot about the first year of grief, a gradual shifting of loss and restoration, gently and forcefully confronting us with the reality of life without our person. A year which, for us, culminated in celebration and reflection, ritual and lamentation, and as ever, love and grief.
In contemplation of our last thirteen months, a huge cycle of life with and without our daughter, we have nurtured a vision of growth. And whilst that growth has been hesitantly welcomed, it is an undeniable truth that the people, parents, and souls we embody today have been shrouded and crafted in turmoil, and the essence of who we are stands firmly, falteringly, in the shadow of loss. The attribution of our selves, of course, can’t be neatly drawn to one singular experience, and although the manifestation of our longing for Norah is the utmost weighted, an amalgamation of secondary losses have served to fortify our grief.
In grief, as in normality, a chain of subsequent actions follow and emerge consequentially. Alongside rebuilding life without Norah, we have endured secondary losses of employment, relationships, identities, futures, communities, finances and health. I raise this not to bide in misery or highlight tragedy, but to take notice of the enduring nature of death and grief. In noticing such experiences, we can begin to aide the evolution of support, care, and community to hold alongside and in hand with those in grief and confronting death.
Norah’s death and ongoing absence has given us a depth of human emotion far beyond anything we ever experienced in comfort. I can never be grateful for my daughter’s death, and yet I am eternally grateful for her life and all she has forced in to focus. Through this fusion of our family, and the steps we take onward together, we are able to continue to walk hand in hand with Norah. Grief conflicting with gratitude is a difficult duty to carry though, and the influences networks of support and community have had on our family have felt limitless.
From the perceived depth of relationships now faded, to the embrace of families anew; both possessing the power to deplete and renew. Each action and reaction since Norah’s death has stunned us, lurching us between dazes of appreciation and agony. Those we held closest, who shared our last moments with Norah, have divided firmly into unwavering support and disappointment. In fury and in grief, I no longer possess the ability to give away pieces of my soul, to invest in loving and abiding by those that could not hold steady with us in devastation. This defeated and worn attire I carry now is not born out of contempt or bitterness, but out of protection. This protection is cradled with vulnerability, manifesting in decisions we should have never have had to make.
Our family endures though, not through bravery or inspiration, but out of a profound and rooted ache for Norah, a love that extends now to our individual; an embodiment of everything we and Norah are.