Mourning involuntary childlessness can be a devastating experience. The grief touched my life so deep and so wide, that it had an almost crippling effect. When I finally reached out for help, I was able to start processing the grief in a phased approach, which helped me to break down the enormity of the grief into smaller, more manageable chunks.
One of the steps I took in that phased approach was writing a letter to my unborn children. It was an exercise I wasn’t quite prepared for at when it happened. My husband and I were on holiday in Portugal at the time, I was in holiday mode and my thoughts were elsewhere.
So when I had to write the letter, I was a bit thrown and frantically searched the hotel room for a piece of paper to write on (the instruction sheet of the safety box was all I could find). Once I had calmed down a bit and started writing, the words just poured out of me. Writing to Oscar and Katie-Thomas (the names we had chosen for our children years before I fell ill) felt almost normal and yet so alien.
When I had finished writing, I took the letter with me to dinner and shared the content with my husband. We both got very emotional and took a walk along the beach in our beloved sea side village in the South of Portugal. The place has always felt like our safe haven, our escape from reality when we were going through the shittiest times. I healed there from my cancer and we’ve had many in-depth conversations about life here over the years. This time it all felt different and writing the letter here, actually fitted just right.
On the beach I took out the piece of paper and together we burnt the letter. We let the ashes blow out over the sand and the sea and just held each other tight as we both cried tears of letting go. The sky was clear, the moon shone down on us and as the wind took the ashes, two stars twinkled above us. It was as if Oscar and Katie-Thomas were shining down on us from the sky. It was a wonderful sense of how things can come full circle.
The next day we were back on that beach soaking up the sun and when I heard the waves rolling in, everything just felt right. My heart felt lighter and I was closer to my husband than ever before. There was love and life in my heart.
Out of the blue my husband posted this on his social media page the next day;“As part of Karin’s on going process of dealing with the events of the past few years, especially the childlessness, she was requested to write a goodbye letter to the children we never had…. We had chosen names for them many years before the shit hit the fan and so over dinner she presented me with a epitaph to our two lost angels; Oscar and Katie-Thomas. Initially I was reluctant to participate, but after reading her love filled goodbye to the souls I would never meet, suddenly they were real… For the first time I could see them and most importantly I could hear them laugh and it was at that moment I knew too that I had to say goodbye. We burnt the letter here in the moonlight on the shores of our much loved Portugal watching the waves take the ashes into the night…
It was, and always will be, a magical moment in our lives that will never be forgotten. Today my heart feels lighter and full of love and for that I am grateful. I am not a religious man but peace be with all of you”
This ritual took place a few years ago and of course I still often think about our unborn children. I still have moments where the grief strikes me hard and days that are tough. But then when I think about that night on the beach in Portugal, I look up at the sky and smile. The ritual has helped me letting go and yet it allows me to remember with a heart full of love…