In spite of the fact that I was more organised than usual when it came to taking our family photos for April, I’m late again with my Me and Mine post. I’ll blame my tardiness on the fact that April is always a rollercoaster of a month and having school strikes and extra bank holidays at the start of May.
I think our family photos sum up April, and life as a bereaved family in general, quite well. The constant balance of living with grief while moving forward and making new memories while holding Jessica in our hearts. We’ve passed the five-year milestone, which felt like a particularly hard one. I’m not sure there are any ‘easy’ anniversaries but five years felt very heavy grief-wise. Five years of moments where Jessica is missing. Five years without that beautiful smile which lit up our world. Five years of being incomplete. Because no matter how much we talk about her, remember her, keep her light shining as brightly as it can, the fact remains that she is not physically present in our lives, that her siblings aren’t making memories with her, that there is always that huge Jessica-shaped hole that nothing else could ever fill.
But we keep moving forward, doing our best to make sure Sophie and Thomas have the happy childhood they both deserve without it being too overshadowed by grief. Keeping the balance of allowing grief to have space, and then going out and enjoying family fun together, making beautiful memories with Sophie and Thomas and making the most of the life we have. Letting joy come in and be welcomed without guilt, because joy and grief can co-exist in our lives, and embracing joy does not mean grief is excluded. There is a place for both, and it’s okay to allow ourselves to fully feel both when we want to and need to. Like everything else in life, it’s a balance.
This is us. I often think of family life with grief as being a kintsugi family life. Having been broken and put back together again. There are cracks and there is a piece missing, but family life can still be a thing of beauty because love is the glue that holds our pieces together and fills the space where Jessica would be.