Simon is angry with society, who do not pay enough attention to stillbirth. He rants about the amount of money spent in Northern Ireland on the pointless sectarian conflict when it could be invested in research and health care for pregnant women. He’s angry with the medical profession who do not have enough awareness or knowledge of the warning signs. Simon is angry with the welfare system which has forced him to return to work before he feels ready, as the statutory sick pay is woefully inadequate. He is angry with the very idea of religion, and with the people who speak of his daughter being in a better place than with her loving parents. He is angry with his mother who does not mention our loss and instead sends us pictures and videos of things like dogs swimming to cheer us up. He is angry with friends who have not visited. He is angry with Arsenal who let him down by losing the first game of the season. In addition to all these targets of his rage, at times, Simon is angry with me.
This evening, after his first full day back at work, Simon came home tired, upset and in need of some TLC. Unfortunately I had plans with friends that had been made a couple of weeks ago. I hadn’t been out of the house all day and with Simon at work, was really looking forward to seeing my friends. Maybe I should have cancelled my plans and stayed at home with him but at the time it felt that what I needed to do for my own wellbeing was to go. I was also conscious that my friends would worry about me if I cancelled at such short notice, not to mention that one friend was already on her way to pick me up. Off I went, with Simon in what can only be described as a ‘huff’ and refusing to kiss me goodbye!
Fast forward a few hours and now I’m home, having not really enjoyed the evening anyway with part of my mind at home with my cross husband. I found Simon in Isobel’s room, curled up with the blankets that wrapped our baby during her brief time with us. He told me he doesn’t want to speak to me and asked me to leave the room. I know that he is hurting and he needs me right now and I know that underneath he wants me too, but his anger makes him push me away. It is the most ironic and unhelpful of coping responses.
Nothing makes me feel so alone like Simon being annoyed with me. I have reached for my phone to ring my mum or a friend but I can’t (won’t?) talk to anyone because I don’t want them to think badly of him for how he is dealing with his grief. I sit alone and think of the relationships that disintegrate following the loss of a child and I worry that Isobel’s loss will shatter us rather than strengthen us. This feels too much to cope with for a couple in our first year of marriage. Another ‘should’ to add to the list, we should be enjoying our honeymoon period not drowning in our grief – dragging each other further down rather than supporting each other to float. I’m aware that I’m catastrophising; one arguement does not a divorce make. (What do you call an arguement when no voices have been raised or harsh words spoken?!). However for the first time since we met, I can imagine how this could develop, I can imagine a future when we are not together, and that scares me more than anything has scared me since this whole nightmare began. The thought of losing Simon after losing Isobel, well, I can’t even finish that sentence.
I know that while Simon directs anger all around, at everyone and everything, really he is only angry at one fact: Isobel died. He is angry because he wanted her, because he loved her and because she is not here. So I will try not to take it personally, I will try not to retaliate and I will resist being pushed away when the anger comes for me. I will remember how amazing Simon was from the moment we heard that Isobel’s heart had stopped, how he helped me through labour, how he held our little girl and looked at her with such love, how proud I was when he spoke so beautifully at her funeral, how he has held me so tightly every time I’ve cried.
I will remember that I love him and remind him that he loves me and I will hope that that will be enough.