Finding your smile again

You have taught me the beauty in the sunshine

Shown me the delicate secrets of the midnight hour

You have revealed the wonders of a bird’s song

And the majesty of a wiggling worm
You have made it clear that life is a precious gift not to squander
Among the dismal heap of tears laughter echoes
Lydia Berry, written Christmas Eve 2014

There’s a beautifully illustrated children’s book Poppy and I stumbled across in the library called Augustus and His Smile  by Catherine Rayner. It follows the simple story of a tiger trying to find his smile again and is well worth a read with your little ones. He finds his joy in the little things and the free things . The patter of the rain; the birdsong in the trees; a heavenward gaze to the stars. All these things are timeless, peace-giving and cosmically bigger than us.

Learning to smile again
Learning to smile again

I too, through the experience of losing my first child in such a traumatic and dramatic way, have taken solace over the last five years in nature, in the quiet, in the beautiful landscape of my local Cotswolds. It calms me to focus on the detail of the clouds being blown by the wind across the brown and green fields or to witness the majesty of sunlight shafts filtering down through the haze to the ground. I see Evelyn in the gentle flutter of a butterfly or tiny bird which I tell myself is her reassuring me she’s ok; I find peace in the memorising pattern of a flower’s petals and delight in watching the meandering trickle of a stream.

Feeling connected to the earth somehow makes me feel connected to that perennial motherhood that I now belong to. I feel I wear the guise of mummy awkwardly after such a horrific graduation and it’s ill-fitting mantle troubles me that I could not assume my new role with the ease I was expecting. I was brutally forced into a motherhood of pain and loss right at the moment of triumph when my baby should have entered the world being joy and tears of happiness. I have not gotten peace yet with how I first become a mother.

A smooth and bright cape of Super-Mum was hanging ready for me to lift down and don proudly – I am Evelyn’s mother, fierce for my child. For me, I felt this was trampled on, destroyed and in its place a lumpy, ugly garbage bag was tied around my neck as I gazed upon her lifeless body for the first time. The first time I ever properly saw her, she took no breath, made no cry and did not open her eyes to look at her mummy. I had to live with the exposure to baby loss and the raw grief consumed me like the grim reaper’s cloak.

I have fought very hard to regain any sense of peace in my mind and to regain a sense of a new normal, for the former status quo can never be recovered. I am still trying to pick over my first experience of birth to find any joy, any goodness or wonder; anything I can cling onto to say proudly that I brought Evelyn into this world. To separate her from the manner of her death is a constant struggle. Both her shoulders became severally suck when she was crowning and she was unable to be born for 7 long minutes. My body, in the act of giving her life, prevented it. It is a sick irony that has no meaning I can fathom and yet I feel it hangs over me, a black mark against my motherhood credentials. It goes directly against nature so I try to forge the link back to make myself feel less of a killer and take my rightful place as a proud mummy to two daughters. I’ll get there…

How and where do you find joy? It’s important to find out for your own well-being, despite the struggles and our experiences, our guilt and our loss, parents like us deserve peace and happiness as much as anyone else. I found this interesting article you might like to to consider when thinking about what does make you happy. We can feel out of practice when we have been sad for so long.

Check out: Psychology Today: what’s your joy

Until next time, do what you can to find your smile again. (And now you know where I got my inspiration from for this sign-off!)

Lydia x


Evie’s garden

First anniversary

Evie’s garden

A sanctuary instead of a bleak graveside –

changing over time to our needs.

A silent witness to our grief.

Watered with a million tears, it repays our sorrow with spring buds and bursts of colour.

Pink heather in bloom 2015

Reminding us everything lays dormant for a time,

where growing and rejuvenation occurs out of sight.

Purple star

Easily mistaken for a wasteland.

In the blink of an eye – a life time for some – life sprouts forth,

injecting the air with purples, yellows, pinks and blues like sprightly statues of youth and vigour.

Stoutly refusing to give in to the rain and wind that occasionally pounds the English countryside where my baby lies.


Poppy at Evie's garden eating the strawberries that grow there
Poppy at Evie’s garden eating the strawberries that grow there




I am not myself, I am reduced.


I am the mother of Evelyn, Evie

But no mother at all.

So full and pregnant my existence is no more

I am non-, un-, dis-

Quick happiness is slow to come in the hollow of my heart

What do I have now?

I exist for others

Be positive, have hope

These things are hard to come by

These things are begrudgingly given,

Energy is eeked out of me meagrely

A play-thing of fate, or destiny or God’s will

Call it what you like – control is an illusion

No way to counteract, to influence

Our screams, pleas, “take me instead” fall on deaf ears.

I am a husk, a shell,




I feel raw and small


My soul feels bashed, my body brutalised

I need to cocoon away, somewhere safe

Protect myself from the pain

I want to be soothed, hushed, shushed asleep

I must be taken care of – I have nothing left

I have been strong, I have given everything for you my Evie

I don’t mind, I am happy, glad to give all of me to you, for you


Bittersweet, more bitter than sweet my effort

For you are not here

I cannot soothe, hush, shush you asleep

I have exerted beyond my limit but have no prize – you my dear

But you are worth it, you existed and I am glad.


Bittersweet, more bitter than sweet that you are not in my arms

I want to retreat – no more pain

I need to convalesce, restore, heal

I am broken,



Take me by the hand and look after me

Please, please


Love Letter to my Girl

I wrote this poem about a week after after Evelyn died to be read out at her funeral. In the order of service it was under the banner of ‘gifts from Evie’s parents’. I sat on my bed and poured my heart out. I wrote it in one sitting and made very few changes or corrections. It felt like automatic writing that bypassed my conscious mind and came striaght form my soul. This really is the essence of me, all I had left to give my daughter…

Love Letter to My Girl

My darling darling girl

You are perfect, so perfect

You are me and you are your Dad

Together we were going to conquer the world.

My precious precious baby

You are beautiful, so beautiful

I yearn for you, to hold you close

To stroke your face and smile at you.

My dear dear little One

We were going to teach you everything

Impart to you the best of us

So you would be the best of us.

My lovely lovely sweetie

I am your Mummy, I will always be here for you

I am your safe place, your cocoon, your sanctuary

I promise I am yours forever.

My darling darling Evelyn, Evie

I love you with all of my being

I had you for such a short time

But I will treasure every second, I will never forget you.

My cherished cherished baby

I cannot believe you have been taken from us

I believe you are in heaven, safe and happy

Smile for us lovie, my Evie, my precious Evelyn smile.


Days are each unique

Yet days can merge

Days can be full or empty, long and short

Days can be branded in your mind forever

Days can be anticipated, counted down, looked forward to, expected

Days can be portioned – week, month, hour, minute, morning, evening

Days can fly by, marking the swift passage of time between then and now

Days, hours, minutes – someone’s life

Days march on relentless, 1 day, 2 months, 3 years

Days can overflow with passions and desire

Days can seem endless, hanging with pregnant pauses, languid, fatigued with weary protests at the injustice of a life robbed.