Inspirational, courageous and brave are just some of the words to describe our next Fabulous and Fearless Woman, Elle Wright. It was back in May 2016, that the happiest event in her life turned into the saddest. After just three days of giving birth to a beautiful baby boy, Teddy, he sadly passed away. Although his time on earth was short, Teddy’s impact has been immense. Since her tragic loss, Elle has remarkably dedicated her time helping other women by fundraising and raising awareness of baby loss in the UK, as well as bravely sharing her own story of loss on her blog, Feathering The Empty Nest and debut book, Ask Me His Name.
Making the decision to share your story on your blog, ‘Feathering the Empty Nest’ is incredibly brave, what gave you the courage?
I realised that I needed to write something that would have spoken to me in my early days of grief after Teddy died. I had spent so many hours endlessly searching the internet for that hope, that voice of someone who would tell me I wouldn’t feel this way forever and that my feelings were normal and justifiable. Feathering The Empty Nest was born out of the desire to channel my creativity and share our home, and Teddy’s story, with the world.
How much has sharing your story helped you on your journey?
It has been so cathartic, and has really helped me walk through all of those feelings and thoughts again, which I really believe has helped my healing. It has also been great to connect with so many other parents who have lost children; it’s so important that we connect with others who can understand what we are going through.
Image Credit: Lagom publishing
Your book, ‘Ask Me His Name’ launched back in September, tell us a little about the book and what inspired you to write it?
The book is the ultimate manifestation of what I have been trying to achieve with my blog. Giving everyone the opportunity to talk about pregnancy and child loss, and giving them permission to ask questions. I think it’s empowering for people who have not experienced loss to know that the conversation doesn’t ever have to stop at “I’m so sorry to hear that.” The book is Teddy’s story, and how we have learned to live (and laugh) in our new reality as bereaved parents since that day we left the hospital without him.
What were some of the biggest hurdles when writing the book and how did you overcome them?
For me it was definitely telling the story of the moment Teddy was born to the moment he died. I had to mentally walk through some of the most painful and darkest moments of my life. Those chapters were the hardest, and when I read them back it was hard to believe I had even written them. I really hope that walking through that pain again goes a little way to helping others understand the enormity of those emotions.
The sub-heading of the book reads- ‘Learning to live and laugh again after the loss of my baby’. How long did it take for you to feel like you could live and laugh again and what helped you through?
It was definitely some time afterwards that I felt I genuinely laughed again, and that I wasn’t in the shadow of a huge cloud of grief. Perhaps a year or so even? I can remember my first happy day from start to finish, and it was the beginning of October 2017 when we were in Cornwall, some 17 months after Teddy died. I think it’s important to share those moments with others and say to the world “I had a great day, and it was amazing!” I suppose losing Teddy has taught me to feel every emotion at its fullest, and now, when I feel happy I really cherish those moments and appreciate them. It has definitely been the love and support of our friends and families that have helped us to both live and laugh again.
Back in March 2018 you won the Tommy’s Baby Charity- Mums Voice Award. Tell us more about this and how did it feel to win?
Winning the Mum’s Voice award was just incredible. I never really thought too much about what I had started the blog for until that moment. Then it became abundantly clear to me that my writing had been able to do exactly what I had wished for in those early days of grief; it was speaking to other parents and supporting them. That meant so much to me, and is the reason I continue to write so openly about my feelings.
What do you think makes a woman fabulous and fearless?
If I am honest, I wouldn’t necessarily say I was either (but it is wonderful to be featured in this article!). I think all mums are fabulous, whatever narrative of motherhood they are living in, and that is something to be celebrated. Lots of people have referred to me as “brave” or “fearless” since Teddy died; but the way I see it is that when there isn’t a choice, when you simply have to wake up and face each day with the hand of cards the world has dealt you, that isn’t either of those things. I just hope that by speaking out about this subject that it has gone a little way to changing the conversation for everyone.
Child loss is still a highly taboo subject. How important do you feel it is for women to talk about losing a child?
I think it’s important for everyone to talk about miscarriage, still birth and neonatal death. Men, women and children; we all need to be able to speak about it. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss of some kind. 15 babies in the UK alone die every single day (Are still born, or die during or after birth). Those figures tell me that it is something we should all be aware of and should all be able to speak about. You never know when it might happen to your friend, your work colleague, that other Mum at the school gates who you chat to sometimes, or your neighbour. I think that if society is equipped a little better to tackle these conversations and alleviate the awkwardness for those people who have been affected by loss, then that will be a wonderful thing indeed.
You also set-up the amazing Teddy’s Legacy, tell us more about that and how can people donate?
Yes, we raise money for the Neonatal Unit at St. Peters Hospital (where Teddy was cared for). So far, we have raised over £116,000. It’s something I never expected to happen and it has exceeded any expectation of what we would be able to achieve in Teddy’s name. People can donate via my website – Feathering The Empty Nest.
What’s the biggest piece of advice would you give to those who have lost a child?
I am always so reluctant to give advice, as we are all so different and grieve so differently. Sadly, there isn’t a textbook of emotions or things you should/ shouldn’t do or feel. I just tell people to hold on to hope; the hope that the darkness will lift and the happiness will start to creep back into their lives. That one day they will wake up and sadness won’t be the only feeling. You’re going to be OK.
Thank you so much Elle for sharing your incredibly brave and inspirational story with us. It’s fabulous what you’re doing, and I’m sure our readers will agree!
Image Credits: Elle Wright
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