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Seven years ago was the worst week of my life.

It started off promisingly enough, on the 31st of May, 2009. I was in labour with my second child. I’d had a rough pregnancy, and I was looking forward to it being over.

But when our son Ian was born at 8:40 that evening, nothing was as we anticipated.

He wasn’t breathing. He wasn’t moving. His heart was beating, but that was the only sign of life he showed.

By the time we finally got to sleep at 3 am the next morning, we’d heard the worst. He was brain dead, and had been for weeks. I’d been the only thing keeping him alive.

The weeks and months that followed were like a blur. Slowly I got back into some kind of a routine, but I wasn’t the same person I was before. I would never be that person again.

I had a lot of support through that trying time, for which I’m eternally grateful. But with some things, support only goes so far. You have to learn how to be a new version of yourself all on your own. And that’s hard.

I’m not saying all this so that you feel sorry for me. I don’t want pity. That’s not the point of this post.

These tragedies in our lives help to shape us. We can either become a better person because of them, or become bitter and angry.

And believe me, I’ve had my bitter and angry moments. But though the experience was horrible, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, it’s helped to make me who I am today. I’ve made friends I might never have made, because Ian was part of my life, be it for such a short time.

Some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way, I wouldn’t have learned if it hadn’t been for Ian.

But I’ve noticed something when I talk about Ian. Something happens to people. They get uncomfortable. They change the subject. They say ‘oh, I’m sorry,’ as if they think they shouldn’t have brought it up. As if talking about it might be hurting me.

But if you’re one of those people who gets like this when someone talks about their trauma, I want you to think about this instead.

That trauma your friend is talking about has made them who they are. And to avoid that, because you’re uncomfortable, is to disregard all the changes that have happened in their life because of it.

So I would like to challenge you. Next time your friend is talking about a traumatic event in their life, step out of your comfort zone for a moment and let them talk. It’ll help them to get it out, and it’ll help you to know them a bit better.

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