Trauma of cot deaths resurfaced for new grandmother
As a young mother in the 1980’s, Anne suffered a double tragedy when she lost two babies to cot death, an extremely rare occurrence. She went on to have two more children, and some-how managed to cope with the terrible loss.
However, many years later, the trauma she’d experienced was brought to the fore when her first grandchild was born. Anne found that she was very anxious about the baby’s welfare. “I had a strong sense of her fragility and wondered if she could survive,” she says. “I kept checking on her and saying: ‘do you think she is alright?’: I didn’t want her to go to sleep. It was a powerful feeling which took me right back in time.”
Anne realised that she was contributing to her daughter’s own anxieties as a new mother and decided to seek professional help from an experienced EMDR therapist friend.
“I was dealing with primal fears that talking therapy probably couldn’t reach,” says Anne. “It seems EMDR goes into the non-conscious workings of the brain and is able to confront trauma swiftly and effectively. The therapist needs to be very skilled and intuitive. Helping the person establish and return to a ‘safe place’ in their mind and making sure they are ready to re-imagine and process their trauma safely requires a huge degree of creativity.”
It took just four sessions for Anne to experience a change in her feelings: “In the final one I didn’t need to go back over my fears, they were no longer disturbing to me. Instead, we focussed on positive thoughts and plans for the future.”
Not long afterwards she became a grandmother for a second time when her older daughter had a baby. With the first grandchild Anne waited to be asked to visit, but with the second she felt able to go straight over and be supportive from the very beginning. Her whole attitude to what she can offer as a grandparent has been transformed. “It feels completely different, just wonderful, and I want to be the best granny there could be,” she says.
As well as being able to relax and enjoy being a hands-on grandmother, Anne’s experience in relation to other parents has also changed. “Before I didn’t want to be too open with people who had babies,” she says. “I had had a conscious feeling I had better not go there as it might be bad for them or upsetting. Now I’m able to accept what happened is just how it was. I can send new-born presents, whereas I used only to do so for the first birthday when perhaps subconsciously I felt the baby was out of danger. In some way it felt like a hidden horror but having EMDR has helped
transform that to being able to welcome new lives and celebrate them as they should be.”