Grieving in isolation: “I write my daughter’s name in the steam from my shower each morning”

Caroline’s daughter, Hope, was stillborn at the end of February 2020. In this blog, Caroline reflects on her grieving journey during a time of social isolation.

This blog dedicated to my beautiful daughter Hope and all the other mothers out there with empty arms and aching hearts. 

Feeling isolated and alone

When our daughter Hope was stillborn, our world fell apart. People gave us their condolences and sent flowers and cards. Nevertheless, we couldn’t shake the overwhelming sense that we were totally alone in the world. As the first weeks passed us by, the brief moments of connection with close family were our lifelines. The little hug from my mum. The knowing smirk from my sister-in-law when my husband didn’t finish his cup of tea – a long running private joke of ours.

Now those moments have been stolen from us. We’re alone in a house with an empty crib and unused pram. A house that feels too big for just the two of us now. The lockdown is like a physical manifestation of what we were already feeling, and it has somewhat halted our healing journey.

We’re keeping in touch with our close family through video calls. Of course, it’s not the same, but it’s all we’ve got for now. I’ve also started an online bereavement therapy course – I’m trying to make connections and find support networks.

Dealing with references to pregnancy on social media

At the moment, social media is both my lifeline and nemesis. I’ve joined some private groups for bereaved parents and I’m finding it very therapeutic to share my feelings with people who understand.

However, I keep coming across flippant comments about pregnancy that make my stomach drop. People are sarcastically referring to a COVID-19 baby boom in 9 months or joking about how much easier this lockdown is for childless people. I know these comments are not aimed at me, but they really hurt. I’m trying limit my exposure to such posts for now, but it is difficult.

I also found that Facebook was targeting me with baby ads. Fortunately, my husband found some guidance from Tommy’s on how to switch these off.

Fears about attending medical appointments

Our ongoing appointments with a bereavement midwife have been changed from face-to-face sessions to phone consultations. While I miss the human interaction, I appreciate this arrangement as I feel very nervous about going to the hospital. 

We’re still awaiting the results from Hope’s post-mortem. I’m feeling very anxious about the consultant appointment we’ll need to discuss the findings. My fear of catching the virus seems to be exacerbating my anxieties further. We’re hoping this can happen over the phone too to help ease this worry.

Postponing our stillborn baby's funeral ceremony 

One of the most difficult things about the current situation is that we haven’t been able to hold a funeral for our precious little girl. I want to hold a beautiful ceremony for all our friends and family to celebrate Hope’s short life inside me. It’s absolutely heart-breaking that these plans have had to be cancelled.

My husband keeps reminding me that we’re not cancelling Hope’s funeral, we’re just postponing it. In the evenings, we sit together and talk about our ideas and plans. It gives me great comfort to know that, at some point in the future, the ceremony will go ahead.

We’re finding our own little ways to celebrate Hope each day. Inspired by other mums who have lost their babies, I write Hope’s name in the steam from my shower each morning. I find great comfort from small acts of remembrance such as this,.

We're here to support you

Although we've had to temporarily close our support line as our midwives have moved to homeworking, our Tommy's midwives are still here to support you. You can  now contact our team of midwives via email ([email protected]) if you need support during these difficult times.   

Here at Tommy's, we are working hard to provide the best support and information we can during a time of extra anxiety.