What are the Early Stages of Grief?

After Hanzalah had passed and had been laid to rest, it was time to face the daunting reality and the tough path that lay ahead.

I named my last blog Through the Early Stages of Child Loss, after I posted my blog I reflected on my writing and thought, “what do I actually mean by the Early Stages?”. The fact of the matter is I had no idea of what the ‘early stages’ were previously and I still don’t.

When I thought of it logically, I thought Hanzalah lived for 63 days, well, then it would probably take me 126 days to ‘get over it’, to ‘heal’, to seek ‘closure’; time heals all wounds, does it not? After days, weeks and months had passed, I wasn’t healing, getting over it or finding closure (what on God’s Earth is closure? I sure as anything was not finding ‘closure’). I very soon learned that the journey of a bereaved mother hasn’t much to do with thinking logically, or rationalising events. I don’t think, I have still quite found the words to describe the process (I’m probably still in the ‘early stages’, so to speak).

As soon as Hanzalah had passed, what I felt, really helped me through the most difficult of days was acceptance and thankfulness. I reassured myself by telling myself “It was God’s will”, “God does what is best for his people” and I still stand by this, life would have been extremely difficult and painful for Hanzalah (I will definitely post about Hanzalah’s diagnosis and his journey in PICU soon).

From a very young age my parents taught me to be positive and grateful for everything. And, I was. I was truly grateful and blessed to have mothered Hanzalah, to have loved him (more than anything), to have cradled and kissed him, to have tickled his (very long beautiful feet), to have held his hands (big and beautiful, of course), to have sung and read to him and more than anything to have been worthy of him loving me. Sadly, the reality of the situation remained: My son had passed away. My heart was full of sadness. I was lonely and weak, two emotions which I had rarely felt before. When I left the hospital that night I was a very different person to the one who had entered a mere hours before.

I haven’t written of the night Hanzalah passed away in much detail, I’m not quite ready to talk about that. There are some bereaved Mothers who don’t have much of a recollection of the occurrences or events that led to their child’s passing, I remember every bit of it and very vividly. I have very mixed emotions about things that happened that night and that is why I am somewhat avoiding it. But, just as I am tackling and addressing all my demons one step at a time, I will tackle this demon very soon. This is, sadly, the demon that has me in an absolute rut. This is the demon that haunts me in my dreams.

About a week or so after we laid Hanzalah to rest my husband and I decided to go away for a couple of weeks. At this point the idea of staying at home when we would usually spend the majority of our time at hospital seemed unbearable. This was a reality that we were not ready to face. It would have been far too painful. I am so, so glad that we made the decision to go away. I cannot imagine how I would have managed myself if I had stayed at home. I do believe going away really helped me manage my grief.

We spent a couple of nights in Istanbul, Turkey; Istanbul is a city I have dreamed of visiting since childhood. We then went on to visit the holy lands of Makkah and Madinah (two of the most revered places on Earth for Muslims). Madinah is known as ‘heaven on Earth’. I almost felt that this journey was a gift from beyond. My son was in heaven and he (in a sense) sent his parents to heaven on Earth. I describe us as ‘going away’ for this was no holiday, it was a trip/journey that was experienced through the lenses of newly bereaved parents.

Life as we knew it had changed. Forever.

Love and hugs,


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