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Public Weddings and Private Grief

I write this on the eve of the Royal Wedding of Kate and William. The whole country seems to have gone Royal Wedding mad. Bunting hangs from lampposts, every shop seems to have identified how the big day might improve sales and there is a street party on my very road. However, I will find it difficult to celebrate. This is not because I am a republican (although to be honest I am at best ambivalent about the Royals), or because I despise the lavish spectacle in a time of such austerity. It is because tomorrow is the anniversary of my son’s death.

The 29th of April will always be a sad day for me. It is not that I don’t feel the grief of Rohan’s loss every day, because I do. It is because the anniversary prompts me to stop amid the mayhem of everyday life and take time out to reflect on what we have been through, what we have lost and what we have learnt.

The loss of a child is always hard to bear. Rohan’s died in our arms, we held him close as life slipped away from him. It was a moment of tenderness and peace and exactly as we would have wanted it. At that point my entire world shattered. Stepping outside the hospital after Rohan had died was an odd experience. We had been cocooned in our own intense bubble of grief and despair for the whole day and it was mid afternoon before we emerged onto the streets of Bloomsbury. I remember feeling a little surprised that news of the tragic events in the hospital had not leaked out. Everyone else in the outside world was going about their business as normal: people hurried past us and the traffic was as busy as ever. Logically I understood that the world would keep turning and that the clocks would keep ticking but emotionally the normality of it all seemed wrong and somewhat surreal. How could everyone else not share what we were feeling? How could they not know and understand what had just happened?

But, life did go on. Just as it will go on tomorrow when William and Kate get married. Whilst a good proportion of the country will be celebrating their nuptials, Clare and I will be getting on with our own day but with a small part of ourselves remembering Rohan and his short life.

Rohan is lost to me but what he taught me is not. My love for Arun and Meri and my relationship with them has been framed by Rohan. The events three years ago have influenced my view on life and fatherhood as profoundly as Arun and Meri have. It is because Rohan is gone that I realise just how precious Arun and Meri are. I know that I must cherish them because I know just how tragically fragile and precious their lives are.

Most fathers know that raising children can be difficult and stressful. Sometimes it takes Rohan to remind me what an honour and privilege it is too.

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